From the New York Post (nypost.com
)White House's botched 'op'
By CHARLES HURT, Post Correspondent
Posted: 3:05 AM, October 6, 2009
WASHINGTON -- President Obama yesterday rolled out the red carpet -- and handed out doctors' white coats as well, just so nobody missed his hard-sell health-care message.
In a heavy-handed attempt at reviving support for health-care reform, the White House orchestrated a massive photo op to buttress its claim that front-line physicians support Obama.
PHOTOS: OBAMA'S BOTCHED PHOTO OP
OBAMA LIFTS HEALTH CARE ADDRESS -- FROM HIMSELF
A sea of 150 white-coated doctors, all enthusiastically supportive of the president and representing all 50 states, looked as if they were at a costume party as they posed in the Rose Garden before hearing Obama's pitch for the Democratic overhaul bills moving through Congress.
The physicians, all invited guests, were told to bring their white lab coats to make sure that TV cameras captured the image.
But some docs apparently forgot, failing to meet the White House dress code by showing up in business suits or dresses.
So the White House rustled up white coats for them and handed them to the suited physicians who had taken seats in the sun-splashed lawn area.
All this to provide a visual counter to complaints from other doctors that pending legislation is bad news for the medical profession.
"Nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do," Obama told his guests.
The president was flanked by four white-coated doctors at a podium as he delivered his pep talk.
"When you cut through all the noise and all the distractions that are out there, I think what's most telling is that some of the people who are most supportive of reform are the very medical professionals who know the health-care system best," the president said.
"I want to thank every single doctor who is here," Obama said. "And I especially want to thank you for agreeing to fan out across the country and make the case about why this reform effort is so desperately needed."
Underlying the strictly photo-op nature of the event, The Associated Press noted that Obama broke no new ground in his remarks.
The president told the doctors that if they back him, "I'm confident we are going to get health reform passed this year."
The Republican National Committee shot back with a response from Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who was an orthopedic surgeon before being elected to Congress.
"Today, the president wants you to believe that the medical community supports his government takeover of health care. Don't be fooled," Price said.
He said he had spoken to "thousands of my colleagues" who oppose the Democrats' legislation.
House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said large numbers of doctors fear it would cripple their ability to care for patients.
"Members of the medical community -- who deal with red tape day in and day out -- rightly recognize that the Democrats' government takeover would weaken the doctor-patient relationship that is so critical to making the right health-care decisions," he said.
Obama made no mention of the "public option" -- a controversial government-run insurance plan favored by liberal Democrats -- in his Rose Garden spiel.
A key version of the legislation, which doesn't include the public option, is expected to reach the Senate floor for debate later this month.