The Washington Post

The lowest low of the Obama presidency

Here's what President Obama really wanted to tell NBC's Chuck Todd about the implementation of the health-care law in an interview Thursday: "Look, Chuck. We're talking about 5 percent of the population who can't keep their plans. Five percent. And once the Web site starts working right, they will realize they can get better plans anyway."

After winning reelection in 2012, nobody thought President Obama would ever run a campaign again. But one year later, he's back on the trail. David Nakamura reports. (The Washington Post)

Of course, when you're president of the United States, you don't say that -- unless you don't want to be president much longer. Time and time again during the interview with Todd, Obama kept running into the political reality that the 5 percent of the country who can't keep their health-care plans isn't all that big a deal unless you are part of that 5 percent.

To wit:

* "Even though it only affects a small amount of the population, you know, it means a lot to them, obviously, when they get -- this letter canceled."

* "The majority of folks will end up being better off, of course, [but] because the Web site 's not working right ... they don't necessarily know it. But even though it's a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, you know, it means a lot to them."

* "I mean, we're talking about 5 percent of the population. But -- but that's -- a significant number of people. Even though a whole lot of them are gonna be better off."

Here's Obama's problem(s). The 5 percent feel misled. (Obama did apologize to them for the first time in the interview with Todd.) HealthCare.gov doesn't work right -- and won't until at least the end of the month. Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are getting nervous and already working to distance themselves from the law and him. His job approval and personal popularity numbers are at  -- or near -- their lowest ebb in years. He lacks any major second-term accomplishment and is watching while his biggest first-term accomplishment struggles to get off the ground.

Because he is a skilled politician -- you don't beat Hillary Clinton, get elected as the country's first black president and then win reelection convincingly by accident -- Obama knows that he has no option at the moment other than to submit himself to a sort of public apology tour as he waits for the Web site to begin working and the furor over the "if you like your plan, you can keep it" fiasco to die down. So, that's what he's doing.

But, he doesn't like it, and his frustration over the entire situation occasionally bubbles to the surface. "I've been burned already with -- a Web site -- well, more importantly, the American people have been burned by -- a Web site that has been dysfunctional," Obama told Todd. He has been burned. And it's clearly burning him up.

Fixbits:

Obama supports increasing the federal minimum wage to more than $10 per hour.

The president said he would have never agreed to replace Vice President Biden with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“An apology is certainly in order, but what Americans want to hear is that the president is going to keep his promise,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) unveiled a measure to delay the individual mandate penalty.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) briefed Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D) over lunch.

The Club For Growth backs Ben Sasse (R) in the Nebraska Senate race.

Must-reads: 

"What Two Bellwether Counties Tell Us About the Republican Party's Future" -- Josh Kraushaar, Peter Bell, Brian McGill and Stephanie Stamm, Hotline On Call

"For Business, Bigger Primary Challenges Follow Alabama Race" -- Emily Cahn, Roll Call

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