March 4, 2010
President Obama was surrounded by doctors and nurses in white coats for the second time this week. Yesterday, he was on national television, pumping for his health care plan. But before that video performance, he was at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He went there for his first physical as President.
I sure have to hand it to him: Hes practicing what hes preaching. Bethesda is government health care. I should know: my life was saved there by a top-notch Navy doctor in 1985. I had been stricken with viral meningitis, an often fatal illness.
My heart went out to the President when the report on his physical exam came back. He is having a hard time quitting smoking. This is a hard addiction to shake. I quit in 1977. Cold turkey. Havent had a cigarette since. Or a cigar. Or a pipe. (I found through many attempts to quit that going to a cigar or pipe just whetted the appetite and sent me right back to cigarettes.)
John McCain also quit smoking. He was teased during the '08 campaign about needing a smoke. He replied he hadnt had a cigarette in 28 yearsand still wanted one. Same here.
So millions of us ex-smoking Americans can sympathize with the President on this one. Its kind of funny, in a way, that his smoking habit may have contributed to one of his best qualities.
President Obama has a famously strong, sonorous speaking voice. So did the dean of all radio commentators, Edward R. Murrow. The great CBS reporter held Americans spell-bound with his reports from London during the Blitz. Old documentaries of the Second World War would be incomplete without the fashionable Murrows booming baritone and his trademark titleHear it Now. He was almost never depicted without a cigarette in hand.
The same goes for our wartime President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelts fireside chats were a soothing, reassuring feature of wartime America. He was elected four times by the American people, the only President so favored. His voice was instantly identifiable in those pre-TV days. Millions of Americans heard that deep, masculine voice and felt safer with him in charge.
FDR was almost never seen without a lit cigarette. He would clasp his cigarette holder between his teeth and hold it at a jaunty angle. Throughout the war, FDR probably smoked two packs a day.
And it killed him. We now know that Roosevelt died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. But he also had congestive heart failure. His paper-thin heart was overstressed every day by the strain of having to carry around 10 pounds of heavy metal braces on his legs. His two-pack a day habit could only have exacerbated his condition.
President Obamas powerful speaking voice enables him to get away with sayingwith a straight facethings that are wildly untrue, laughably untrue.
I am an ardent believer in free markets, he told members of the Business Roundtable. The Emperor was surely streaking on this one. Could not one of those pet business leaders invited to that Presidential lunch stand up and say: Where?
Have you ever seen an ardent believer in free markets who is so determined to exercise government control over so many of what his top economic advisers call the commanding heights of the U.S. economy? Do they even know that phrase is from that other famous ardent believer, Karl Marx? The list includes banks, insurance giants, GM and Chrysler. On top of this, the Obama administration will nationalize all college loans.
His cap and trade legislation may be stalled, but his Environmental Protection Agency has recently issued an endangerment ruling. If allowed to stand, this ruling could effectively bring every industry, every business in America under federal control. (And they did this even after they persuaded their Communist green jobs czar to resign.)
Consider this: Our ardent believer in free markets wants you to be dependent on the federal government for home mortgages, autos and auto loans, and college student loans.
Now, add health care to this mix, and what is left of the free market to supply? The Presidents addiction to taxing and spending is the one that is threatening our economic health. So, my advice to Dr. Obama, this ardent believer in free markets, is the same as Jesus: Physician, heal thyself!