Yesterday, Rep "Buck" McKeon (R-WI) appeared on CNN and told Wolf Blitzer that no more than nine people had signed up for the Affordable Care Act.
"I heard that they've had over eight million hits," he began " -- people that have tried to sign up -- and so far they have people in the single digits that have signed up. Now, obviously there is something very wrong there and these are coming from -- these statements are coming from bipartisan people that are concerned about the implementation of a law."
Needless to say, Mr. Blitzer was a little bewildered and to his credit wanted to clarify that he not only heard right, but that the congressman didn't misspeak. "When you say single digits, I’m not exactly clear what you mean by that," he asked.
“Single digits would be less than ten,” McKeon makes exactly clear. In fact, he even sources his figures. "“I’m saying I read that in an article in Forbes today,"
You can watch it for yourself -- since this is something so outlandish that I can imagine people thinking I's just a-pulling your leg.
I have to admit, while most of the sane world was probably appalled and utterly aghast as such soul-crushing pandering, I actually had a very different reaction, very thrilled in fact. My first thought was, "Cool! Only nine people in the entire country have signed up for Obamacare, and I know two of them!! And I'm one of the two!!" I have to tell you, I thought I was in pretty elite company.
Alas, I jumped the gun a bit. Given that the charge was so over-the-top shameless, even by Death Panel, shutdown-the-government, don't raise the debit ceiling standards, that CNN did what a news organization is supposed to do -- they checked the facts. (Not that they really had to, but facts are actually A Good Thing.) And so, after a commercial break -- that's how long it took to get the actual truth... -- Wolf Blitzer came back on the air and told his views:
"Just want to update you on the information we’re getting, clarify how many people have so far signed up for Obamacare based off the interview I just did with the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, We’re not going to get any numbers from the federal governments at least so far, they say they will once a month release official numbers. Three states have so far released official numbers – Kentucky, Maryland and Washington State. In those three states they say 16,724 so far have enrolled for Obamacare -- that’s more than single digits obviously."
And just as obviously, after having had his lunacy challenged, a spokesman for Rep McKeon, Alissa McCurley, (since the congressman clearly couldn't be bothered to do the mea culpa himself) sent out an email that the congressman was merely "making a reference to the overwhelming reports on the glitches and problems with the rollout of the Obamacare exchange."
This is the kind of thing we've seen people on the far right do too often. Make some ludicrous charge, and when challenged, get forced to come back and say (or have their spokesperson say), "Oh, he didn't really mean that, he was just speaking in metaphors."
(Most famously this manifested itself when Sen. John Kyl [R-TX] slammed Planned Parenthood in the Senate, claiming that abortions accounted for "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" -- thoughthe actual, truthful number is 3 percent. When the actual facts were made known, alas after Sen. Kyl's statement was in the Congressional Record, one of his staff members -- not the senator himself, of course -- came back with the disingenuous defense: "His remark was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions."
Gee, sound familiar?
Of course, Buck McKeon was not "making a reference" to glitches. He very clearly was giving a very specific number -- and then repeating when asked -- and then sourcing the number when asked again. And he was doing so to trying and make it seem that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act had been dismal. If he was merely "making a reference" to glitches, he was given every opportunity to correct that erroneous impression. But he didn't, he hoped his words would stand as is and go unchallenged. Unfortunately for him, CNN did challenge his galling lie and made the truth known. Only then did the congressman hiding behind his spokesman back off with with attempt at flimflammery.
Hey, maybe Rep. McKeon didn't appear on camera to correct his shameless lie because his nose had grown really long. Or perhaps his pants were simply on fire.
I don't mean that literally. I'm just making a reference to the overwhelming reports of glitches in Buck McKeon use of numbers.
P.S. Buck McKeon is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Let me rephrase that so that it's more clear: Buck McKeon is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
At least it's comforting to know that the country is in good, honest, honorable hands...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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