Friday, November 23, 2012

Obama's Personal Physician

Every person who comes into contact with a famous person becomes a source of historical data - classmates or teachers from school, neighbors and family members, coworkers, even barbers. Thus historian Edward Klein interviewed David Scheiner, and reports that

Scheiner was Obama's personal physician for twenty-two years - from the mid-1980's, when Obama was a community organizer, until he was elected president of the United States.

In addition to caring for Barack Obama's physical health, Dr. Scheiner had some informal contact with Obama on policy matters. Scheiner belongs to an

organization that lobbies for single-payer national health insurance - or, in Dr. Scheiner's own words, "socialized medicine." He had great hopes for Obama in the White House, because when Obama was his patient he made no secret of the fact that he favored the kind of socialized medicine that is practiced in Canada and Western Europe.

Like many who supported Obama, David Scheiner had high hopes for Obama as president. But by 2012, Scheiner had a different view. Given Scheiner's political views, Klein

expected him to be a champion of his former patient. To my surprise, however, he turned out to be one of Obama's most severe and unforgiving critics.
One of Obama's challenges has been trying to keep his base happy and fulfill the agenda of his handlers. His base - the left wing of the Democrat Party and others who voted for him - hoped that his first four years in office would constitute a quicker move toward socialism than he has in fact produced. His handlers - the people who discovered him at a young age, recognized his telegenic potential, obtained degrees and credentials for him, and moved him through a career path designed to make him nationally-viable candidate - hoped that he would be able to inflict even greater damage on America's economy and global diplomat stature than he has in fact been able to wreak. Thus a longtime supporter like his personal physician is vocal:

"I look at his healthcare program and I can't see how it can work," Scheiner said. "He has no cost control. There would be no effective cost control in his program. The [Congressional Budget Office] said it's going to be incredibly expensive ... and the thing that I really am worried about is, if it is the failure that I think it would be, then health reform will be set back a long, long time.

In some mysterious political harmony, disaffected elements within Obama's base agree, at least on this one point, with elements of his opposition: his healthcare plans focus of who's paying for healthcare, but fail to address ways in which the price of healthcare might be reduced.

"When Barack Obama planned this health program, he didn't include on his healthcare team anyone who actually practiced medicine in the trenches the way I do," Dr. Scheiner continued. "I'm an old-fashioned doctor. I still make house calls. I still use the first black bag that I got out of medical school. My patients have my home phone number. It's true that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of Rahm Emanuel, was on the healthcare team, but Ezekiel is a medical oncologist, not a general physician."

The mention of Rahm Emanuel - an expert at political corruption, bribery, extortion, and organized crime, to name only a few of his skills - highlights another question about Obama: was Obama's health program the sadly mistaken and incompetent product of a genuine goodwill - a naive progressivism yielding the failed social experiments usually produced by such progressivism? Or was Obama's healthcare program the result of a cynical calculation to direct power and funding to those who manage him, and to fulfill their desire to weaken the United States? There are substantive arguments on both side of this question.

"My main objection to Barack Obama is that he is a great speaker and a lousy communicator," Dr. Scheiner said. "He isn't getting his message across to people. He isn't showing that he really cares. To this day he hasn't communicated with members of Congress."

Obama can give stirring vocal performances. But lacking a rehearsed script to present, he lacks substance. His lack of press conferences - he gives fewer than the average modern president - and his granting of interviews only to those reporters who toss "softball" questions to him - indicate that the real thought is taking place behind the scenes, and Obama is functioning as the mouthpiece for the group which has financed and managed him for many years now.

"He's got academic University of Chicago-type people around him who don't care. Where is our Surgeon General, the obese Dr. Regina Benjamin? Why hasn't she said anything during this healthcare debate? Ronald Reagan had C. Everett Koop as his surgeon general. Believe me, Regina Benjamin is no Everett Koop. In fact, Obama's whole cabinet has been a disappointment. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is a joke."

Obama's advisors are often pulled from academia, but are sadly not the professors and researchers who made breakthroughs there. Rather, they were administrators, political hacks who got adjunct faculty positions as payoffs for political favors, future candidates being groomed for campaign by spending a semester or two lecturing, or remnants from the hippy days of the 1960's and 1970's. In short, these advisors and appointees have lots of academic-sounding credentials on their resumes, but are not scholars.

So it is Michele Obama, not the Surgeon General, who scolds and nags the American public about eating properly. The nation's comedians would doubtless be delighted with the plethora of material which would result if Regina Benjamin would make public statements on the topic. But more substantively, why was she essentially out of the loop in the formation of the Obamacare program, and largely silent during the public debate about it? Apparently, she either had nothing to say on the matter - revealing that she was a purely political appointment lacking competence - or her comments were not welcomed by Obama's handlers, meaning that they prefer to keep the decision-making and power-wielding behind the scenes, and allow the official cabinet-level appointees exist merely as figureheads.

Obama can project a personality in a speech, but whether he in fact has one is a different matter. He would not be the first; there have been many people who made good candidates but incapable leaders. David Scheiner muses on Obama the man:

"I can really relate to people, but I never really related to him. I never had the closeness with him that I had with other patients. It was purely a professional relationship. He was always gracious and polite. But I never really connected with him. He was distant. When I think of why he's had problems in the White House, I think there is too much of the University of Chicago in him. By which I mean he's academic, lacks passion and feeling, and doesn't have the sense of humanity that I expected."

Having been parked in university by his handlers - ostensibly as adjunct faculty, but the record shows that he devoted minimal effort to teaching, and even less to research - Obama adopted the airs of academia. He learned to appear professorial without being an actual scholar. He learned to appropriate the tone of a lecturer without having devoted himself to textual research.

The chameleon-like ease with which Obama can wear a persona - modulating quickly from the lecture-hall docent to the street-corner community organizer - points to a deeper lack of self. Being in very real ways a damaged person - abandoned by his biological father, impacted by a string of short-term father-figures during his childhood, steered by his mother into an identity of her choosing - Obama perhaps never developed a sense of self incubated in the stable, secure environment of unconditional love and of a solid family culture. Abandoned by various adult men who might have been step-parents, and enrolled by his mother into a variety of educational institutions which carefully avoided the common public school, he became able to conform to various environments, but unable to reliably identify himself. Unable to clarify himself to himself, he was and is unable to clarify himself to others.

"Obama has an academic detachment," he continued. "I treat many patient from the University of Chicago faculty, and I've been able to crack through their academic detachment. Not Obama. We never got to the point where we'd discuss intimate things. For instance I never heard anything about his family life. Other patients invited me to dinner and their homes, but Obama never did. Obama invited his barber to his inauguration - his barber! But I wasn't invited. Believe me, that hurt."

Although revealing his own Obama-esque egocentrism, David Scheiner identifies a troubling pattern in Obama's symbolic gestures. Scheiner is not an African-American, and Obama failed to invite him to the inauguration. Obama's barber, an African-American, was invited. This is not an isolated incident; it's a consistent pattern. The Obama administration has orchestrated quite a few purely symbolic gestures around African-American citizens. In doing so, they have reduced many situations to over-simplified racial equations. They have also spent enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars (Obama's Chicago barber is flown to Washington regularly, where he stays in a hotel - all at taxpayer expense). To which extent Obama is part of these decisions - he probably requested the barber because of the personal relationship, but other gestures which were less personal were probably arranged for him by his handlers - is not clear, given that he seems to make only a few administrative decisions personally.

In sum, what Obama's former personal physician thinks about his healthcare policy isn't that significant. But in examining that opinion, we begin to see the deeper weaknesses in Obama and his administration. David Scheiner's personal sour grapes are merely that, but the troubling indicators that the damaged individual who is Barack Obama is being surreptitiously managed by shadowy figures gives us an insight into the Obama administration.