Tilly: The brief return of Happy Obama

BY ZACH TILLY | APRIL 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Tuesday saw the return appearance of a creature unseen for quite some time: Happy Obama. That particular species was rumored to have been pushed to edge of extinction by an 18-month parade of post re-election calamities, but it re-emerged, swagger fully swaggering, before a Rose Garden crowd.

His morning affairs began with some unabashed cheesing as he welcomed the 2013 Red Sox to the White House and took the year’s third-best selfie with David Ortiz. His smile was no doubt inflated by that fact that, earlier that morning, he got the news that after Monday’s epic testament to American procrastination, Obamacare actually passed its enrollment goal of 7 million newly insured.

The prospect of that happening seemed, mere months ago as the rollout floundered, next to impossible. But, finally, something went right for Obama, and he made sure we all heard about it.
“No, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t fixed our long broken health-care system, but this law has made our health-care system a lot better,” he said in an address Tuesday afternoon. “Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health-care costs is down.”

To his critics, he slipped in a little jab to let everybody know they were dealing at least temporarily with Happy Obama again: “There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans.”

The victory celebration was well-earned for the guy who’s seen his poll numbers slide and slide, but his revelry was, perhaps, a little too optimistic considering the massive challenge of implementation that awaits. See, for example, Happy Obama dancing on the graves of his Republican opponents whose crusades to repeal the health reform failed.

“Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance?” he asked. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

Never mind that we’re still weeks away from learning the demographics of the 7 million people who signed up for Obamacare, a crucial fact that looms over any projections of the law’s long-term health. For the law to be a success, the new insurance pools need to have an abundance of young people, and those young people need to be properly distributed throughout the states to prop up markets at the state level.

While White House oficials believe that they have signed up enough young people to ensure that the marketplaces won’t collapse altogether, whether the marketplaces will be healthy enough to keep prices low and keep new enrollees flowing in remains to be seen.

Whatever the case, until we know the identities of our enrollees, the celebrators ought to keep their optimism cautious and their “I-told-you-so-ing” to a minimum.

For now, though, let’s take a moment to cherish the brief resurfacing of Happy Obama, Obama the Victor, whose charisma reminds us of all the things we liked about him in the first place. It is, after all, only a matter of time before the proverbial skies get cloudy again and something goes awry abroad. Already, Tuesday’s successes have been partially obscured by the news that John Kerry’s attempts at brokering a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine are on the verge of breaking down.

Farewell, Happy Obama, we hardly knew you.

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