I'm not a Jon Stewart fan. And, after last night, neither is Kathleen Sebelius.
The liberal comedian eschewed his nightly routine of making funny faces after awkward Fox News clips and instead interviewed the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Stewart was armed with a couple of common-sense questions that left the star-struck Sebelius bewildered.
Stewart opened the interview with a hit on the technical glitches. “We’re going to do a challenge,” he said. “I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, you are going to try to sign up for Obamacare. We’ll see which happens first.”
When Sebelius responded with a bloodless recitation of talking points, Stewart asked her how many people had signed up to date. “Fully enrolled?” she said, “I can’t tell you because I don’t know.”
Then, shockingly, Stewart seemed to hit Obamacare from the right:
If I’m if an individual I’m wondering — well, an individual who doesn’t want this because there are individuals clearly that want this — but if I’m an individual that doesn’t want it, it would be hard for me to look at big business getting a waiver and not having to do it and me having to… I would feel like you are favoring big business because they lobbied you to delay it because they didn’t want to do this year, but you are not allowing individuals that same courtesy.
Oddly, Sebelius implied that individuals could access that same big-business waiver if they just “pay a fine.” After a clumsy back-and-forth, Stewart summarized Obamacare in a way that every tea partier would agree with: “what you're saying to the American people is, some of you will face a penalty for the greater good.”
Lest you think Jon Stewart is morphing into Glenn Beck, he revealed his real concern (highlightedhere by Ricochet member Western Chauvinist):
It's frustrating to have to defend something that’s less than ideal or is functioning at a level of incompetence that is larger than it should be… I don’t understand the idea of staying with a market-based solution for a problem where people can’t be smart consumers.
In other words, “why can’t we skip this annoying intermediate step and move straight to single-payer healthcare?”
Considering The Daily Show’s young, left-leaning audience — the precise cohort Obamacare needs to sign up in droves — Sebelius’ interview is a surprising gaffe. Stewart recognized that as he closed the broadcast: "I still don't understand why individuals have to sign up and businesses don't… I think to myself, well, maybe she's just lying to me.”
She is, Jon. She is.