Don't take what he says literally

Depending on your point of view, it might or might not be a good thing that President Obama's words should not be taken literally.

First (via Glenn Reynolds), I read that the White House has gone on record as saying that Obama Health Care Promises Should Not Be Taken Literally:

Less than 24 hours after Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner questioned the veracity of President Obama's persistent claim that, under his health care proposals, "if you like your insurance package you can keep it", the White House has begun to walk the President's claim back. Turns out he didn't really mean it.

According to the Associated Press, "White House officials suggest the president's rhetoric shouldn't be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn't about to barge in and force people to change insurance." How's that for change you can believe in?

As Jim Lindgren tries to explain, it's like, when he said, "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period."

What he actually meant to say was this:

If you like your doctor, many of you will NOT be able to keep your doctor. Period.

If you're having trouble, the best explanation I've seen put it this way:

The Obama giveth, the Obama taketh away.
This give or take approach is not limited to any particular issue. It has also become very clear that the president's statements about DOMA are also not supposed to be taken literally.

However, in California, a gay couple apparently hasn't taken the Don't Take Him Literally rule to heart, for they are actually taking the president's own words to court. The gay couple claims that Obama's words should mean something, so now they're in a legal battle to use the president words against the position of his own administration. Their attorney says he does not know who the U.S. attorneys are representing:

When Orange County newlyweds Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer face off against the Obama administration over a law that denies federal benefits and interstate recognition for their marriage, they will have some potent ammunition: President Obama's own words.

An Aug. 3 hearing in federal court in Orange County is scheduled for Smelt and Hammer's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that reserves for male-female married couples such spousal benefits as joint federal tax filing, Social Security survivors' payments, and sponsorship of an immigrant partner. The law also allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state or nation.

An attorney for the couple said he will argue that the administration is on the wrong side of the case, in light of Obama's latest comments.

"I'm not sure who the attorneys for the United States are representing," attorney Richard Gilbert said.

Pressed by gay-rights groups to live up to his campaign promise to be a "fierce advocate" of equality for gays and lesbians, Obama denounced the 1996 law Wednesday while announcing limited benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees.

Despite his administration's position, Obama's says he stands behind his committment:
"Unfortunately, my administration is not authorized by existing federal law to provide same-sex couples with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples," the president said. "That's why I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

"It's discriminatory, it interferes with states' rights, and it's time we overturned it," Obama said.

Obama also criticized the law as a presidential candidate. But as president, he was speaking with more authority - and his statement that the law was discriminatory appeared to contradict what his Justice Department argued only six days earlier in Smelt and Hammer's case.

Notwithstanding whatever authority the president may have, Obama's Justice Department contradicts the boss, as they claim DOMA is not discriminatory:
The Defense of Marriage Act "does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits," department lawyers said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. The 1996 law, "understood for what it actually does, infringes on no one's rights," they said.

By reserving federal benefits for "those who have entered into the traditional form of marriage," government lawyers said, the law adopted "a cautious policy of federal neutrality towards a new form of marriage" while respecting states' authority to define marital unions for themselves.

They're trying to make it perfectly clear that while the Justice Department is speaking for the Obama administration, President Obama is not speaking for the Obama adminstration:
In asking Judge David Carter to dismiss the suit and uphold the law, the Justice Department was speaking for the Obama administration.

Gilbert said he will bring Obama's remarks to Carter's attention and ask the judge to tell the government to clarify its position.

"It appears to me that the president of the United States is making it clear that the attorneys for the United States do not represent the views of the administration," Gilbert said.

"I think they have a duty to withdraw their motion. I think they have a duty to join my side of the case."

The Justice Department stuck to its position Monday that it will urge courts to uphold existing laws, including laws the president opposes.

"Until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged," the department said.


While I am having a great deal of trouble following the logic, I have to recognize how nervewracking it must be to be the president and yet not be able to speak for your own administration. My heart goes out to the president.

But is he at least allowed to at least take himself literally? The reason I'm asking is because he famously said he was against gay marriage, and his supporters apparently don't take him literally, nor do they want him to take himself literally.

If Obama isn't allowed to take himself literally, how will he ever know what he meant?

posted by Eric on 06.23.09 at 04:37 PM


Pretty cool post. I just came across your blog and wanted to say
that I've really enjoyed browsing your posts. Any way
I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

Katy   ·  June 23, 2009 7:31 PM

He has to learn not to open his mouth until Soros tells him what to say. Then he won't have to backtrack so often.

Choey   ·  June 23, 2009 10:44 PM

Loved your latest post, by the way.

How I Make $5000 a Month Posting Links on Google   ·  June 25, 2009 8:16 PM

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