Obama's TV Pitch on Obamacare: Overwhelming questions, no answers

President Obama flunked as a TV pitchman and as President Monday. Everyone understood why that lady fainted. Photo: Special to the Washington Times

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2013 — President Obama flunked as a TV pitchman and as President Monday. Everyone understood why that lady fainted.

“Operators are standing by to take your Obamacare calls.” But they weren’t.


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Let’s face it. Carrier pigeons, the Pony Express and snail mail (with real snails) are all faster than the Obamacare website. No wonder President Obama urged everyone to bypass it.

President Obama should have been serious and contrite about a major problem. Instead, Obama joked that now the website will be fixed…because he’d told people that the problem made him mad.

His personal feelings are not our measuring stick. Only three weeks ago, he was boasting that Obamacare was ready to rock and condemning those who proposed delay.

Monday we heard a gimmicky speech and a sales pitch for a product that doesn’t work. Not just a website that doesn’t work and an 800 number that didn’t work either, but a product that doesn’t work. Millions of insurance cancellation letters and premium increase letters are testimony that the product itself doesn’t work.


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There is a reason why all the other TV pitchmen give demonstations. Ginsu knives. Sham-Wow. Snuggies. Vegomatic.

Poor Barack Obama didn’t dare show his product onscreen. Imagine Ron Popeil or Billy Mays telling their audience what Obama did, “That product is working. It’s really good. And it turns out there’s a massive demand for it.”

But no proof. No demonstration. No numbers. Nothing about 99% premium increases or doubled deductibles and high co-pays. Not even the number of customers.

McDonald’s once kept a running tally on their signs, starting at 5 billion served and updated until they surpassed 100 billion. Now it’s just “billions and billions served.”


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Obama will only tell us the traffic count, not the customer count: “So far, the national website, HealthCare.gov, has been visited nearly 20 million times.”

That’s probably a million people each trying twenty times to create an account. Iowa just proclaimed its first successful Obamacare customer. Edward Voss said it took him over 100 tries. In the Rose Garden, Obama was introduced by Janice Baker, Delaware’s first Obamacare enrollee. It took her seven hours and she had to bypass the website.

They should make a children’s book about people who somehow signed up for Obamacare. You could tell the kids, “See, there’s Waldo. But can you find the Obamacare enrollee?”

The White House keeps us confused about more than just numbers. What’s the difference between enroll, apply, sign up, register, and purchase when it comes to Obamacare? Is the process anything like signing up at Costco? Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius must think this is words with friends because they keep us guessing about each term. But they won’t answer questions.

For Obamacare, you have to create an account, be approved, submit financial data and find out whether you’ll get a taxpayer subsidy, all before you’re allowed to shop for a plan. Then you might put one in the cart to come back and buy later.

Keep it simple. Will they at least tell us the number of buyers? We might as well ask the launch codes for our nuclear arsenal.

The White House team play other tricks, too. For example:

  • Blending state numbers with federal numbers. That lets them pretend the Obamacare exchanges are anything other than a bust.

  • Pretending the only problems are computer glitches. Obamacare is inherently complex, costly and confusing. Just wait until we find out they’ve mis-allocated billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies. The website is not the real problem; it’s only a symptom. Obamacare itself is the problem.

  • Claiming low premiums are the same as affordability. Or that a subsidized premium is a low premium. Premiums are only part of out-of-pocket costs under both individual and group policies, and both types are hit by Obamacare. Higher deductibles and higher co-pays are causing sticker shock, too; it’s not just the premiums. And Obama cherry picks abnormally-low examples to cite.

From the Rose Garden, Obama told us he would not sugarcoat the problem, then he proceeded to do just that. But one of the insiders who saw Obamacare put together, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, told an interviewer it could take three years to fix the programming.

This cannot go on. When President Obama told us, “Nobody’s more frustrated than I am,” hands shot up in living rooms all across America. He has a lot of competition for that claim.

Obama has put himself in a corner by making Obamacare the driver of the federal budget, the symbol of government activism, and his sword against Republicans. Even on small things, he seems incapable of admitting his mistakes. But on something this enormous? So he continues to bluster in his usual way.

We are not talking about a $19.99 Vegomatic here; we’re talking about one-sixth of the American economy. But according to Obama, the problem has only progressed from a glitch to a kink. What’s next? A wrinkle?

The selective and slanted information being spooned out by the Administration is propaganda; but the information they’re concealing is now into the realm of coverup.


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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

Contact Ernest Istook

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