Let’s Talk Stupidity (Jonathan Gruber style)

12.11.14 jonathan gruber.jpegYep, Jonathan Gruber’s an idiot, but then you knew that already.  But really, do you care?  Should you care?

To back up for those who don’t recognize the name (if you don’t follow the twists and turns of Obamacare, well, shucks, he’s likely not on your radar), Jonathan Gruber is the MIT guru that the government hired as a consultant to pass the Affordable Care Act through congress.

Recently Mr. Gruber blamed the “stupidity of the American voter” in part for the bill’s passage (along with blaming the legislature’s lack of transparency).  And the fallout was immediate.

Sadly, we the taxpayers, paid $6,000,000+ to be insulted by this high priced arrogant SOB – we want our money back!

Is he serious?!  We didn’t vote in anything; while we did elect officials to vote for us, it’s still a stretch to call the American voters stupid for this one bill’s passage, no matter how flawed the bill may be.  We don’t create bills, argue them, vote them into law – we just live with them.

Now J. Gruber, while not commenting, has duly apologized but an apology wasn’t enoughdamage done.  Too late, loser!

Not only is there a pushback from the coffers that have dried up on paying him for his (supposed) health systems expertise, but some lawmakers are calling for a refund of some or all of the monies.

And the pushback has extended to states, several of which also hired Mr. Gruber and are now cancelling those contracts, with Michigan’s state rep writing to the state Dept of Community Health that “He seems to have a proclivity for deception or fraud…Ouch.

The reason to profile this incident here is to point out how important communication is; public words must be chosen thoughtfully.  And in today’s digital world it is safe to assume that nothing is safe – anything written or pictured online could eventually make its way into the public domain.  Just ask any celeb.

Misplaced words can break or derail much of the work, perhaps good work, that came before the faux pas.  And after it happens, it takes 10 times as much work to repair the damage, if it can even be repaired.  The tribe has spoken: Gruber you’re off the island!

Is Jonathan Gruber a bad, deceitful, fraudulent individual?  While that answer is up for debate, the important thing is that this whole Pandora’s Box was opened due to one errant, misguided remark.  Bet he wishes he had thought that one through a little more.  Ahh, the price of arrogance.

In reality, Jonathan Gruber is just a political football in a political game of pass, as the Republicans try to discredit the Democrats anyway possible; what a golden opportunity to discredit Obama, who has expectedly distanced himself from Gruber (“some adviser who never worked on our staff”).

Yeah, but your staff paid him oodles of money, those expenditures now fair game for closer scrutiny.  The fallout continues.  Bottom line: Gruber, however unintentionally, put himself into play with that stupid remark.  Who can blame the Republicans for jumping all over a loose ball?

The news is rife with politicians saying the wrong thing, then trying to cover it up with the lament “My comments were taken out of context!”  Yeah, right.  Sorry you blew your promising career out of the water with that one.  The only question now is, can you recover, or was it a career death blow?

Not only politicians but anyone in the public arena (i.e. at work) needs to be careful of offensive comments while expressing themselves, sounding off, or just stating their strong views.

Not that you need to walk on eggshells all the time, but with certain audiences thinking before speaking is definitely recommended.  And when you’re high profile in your corner of the world, it comes with the territory.

Next time the topic is: Our Favorite People  – what traits do they have?  How can you use this knowledge to become one to those who you want/need to be on their favorite list?

Comments on fallout from errant remarks?  Career derailment through poor communication skills is not limited to J. Gruber


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