Can you believe this health care chaos? What a tremendous story: A charismatic president puts all his currency behind remodeling America's health care system and, at this point, is getting his back pocket kicked.
A recent Rasmussen poll has 53 percent of Americans opposing President Obama's health care vision, and just 42 percent supporting it. Also, a whopping 44 percent of voters strongly oppose Obamacare, while only 26 percent strongly support the plan.
In response, the president traveled to Portsmouth, N.H., this week for a town hall meeting in front of a largely friendly crowd. He told the folks there that the AARP supports his reform plan. About 10 minutes later, the AARP issued a press release saying, uh, not so fast, Mr. President. We do not support any specific health care plan at this time.
Asked about this later, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president did not mean anything 'untoward.' With all due respect, I believe the issue is 'untrue' not 'untoward.'
Also in New Hampshire, 11-year-old Julia Hall asked this question: 'I saw a lot of signs outside saying mean things about reforming health care. How do kids know what is true, and why do people want a new system that can help more of us?'
The president responded smoothly about bad health care 'rumors' and why his plan is worthy. It all sounded great.
But then The Boston Globe reported that young Julia is the daughter of Kathleen Manning Hall, who ran the Massachusetts Women for Obama organization during the campaign. Uh-oh. Does the word 'plant' come to mind?
Considering that Obama has described some health care protesters as disingenuous ideologues, you would think the president's team would avoid having disingenuous questioners at town hall meetings. You would think.
All of this points to one thing: There is a serious breakdown in Obama's health care message. The White House is reeling under falling poll numbers and intense pubic displays of hostility. And the administration's response to that? This week Gibbs said this to Matt Lauer: 'I think we all have something to lose, Matt, if we let cable television come to town hall meetings and kill health care reform for another year, and put the special interests back in charge.'
To which 'cable television' is Gibbs referring? CNN and MSNBC are largely supportive of the president, and I don't think Spike TV is in play here. So he must be slamming Fox News. Is that smart?
Since the town hall protests began, FNC's ratings have soared because we cover the events fairly. We don't mock the protesters or label them subversive. We put both sides of the issue on display. I've invited Gibbs on my program, but he has always declined.
The end game here is that the Obama administration is sorely mishandling the health care debate. Attacking critics and planting favorable questions is not the remedy for fixing health care confusion. If there is a wise-up pill available, the administration needs it fast.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News.