Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2013/ 29 Mar-Cheshvan, 5774
Obamacare: The latest from Glitches R Us
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Only now does Obamacare's namesake call the press to the Rose Garden, which is much better tended than his signature program, to acknowledge what everybody already knows: There are, well, a few problems with his signature program. Problems are now known as glitches in the specialized language used to minimize politicians' mistakes, however colossal. As if they were but technical problems. Just press 4....
Don't be concerned. Our president assures all and sundry that his administration may delay the deadlines in the law, just as he has ignored other laws that he found it inconvenient to enforce. With this president, law can be a sometime thing.
Putting off the start of Obamacare's insurance exchanges for individuals, just as he already has delayed it for businesses, was one of the proposals the president rejected when Republicans made it during their pointless fight over raising the debt ceiling. If the president had accepted it then, he might have avoided two crises -- not just the one now affecting Obamacare but the shutdown that shuttered much of the federal government for weeks.
Back then, the president denounced any suggestion that Obamacare be delayed as a Republican plot, throwing around the word "blackmail" with abandon. Now that he's considering that suggestion, the usual apologists for this administration will explain that Obamacare just needs a simple little fix that'll straighten out whatever's wrong with it in no time. Uh-huh.
On the same day the president finally acknowledged that his (not so) Affordable Health Care was in (more than) a bit of trouble, his administration also announced that it was going to have postpone its Spanish-language sign-ups for Obamacare. No habla espanol aqui.
Why? The usual "technical" problems. Technical is another one of those words that is now used to minimize presidential-sized misjudgments. And assign the responsibility for them so broadly that no one is held responsible for them. It's the updated version of
The president says he's going to get the "best and brightest" to fix this latest screw-up in his prized program, which sounds suspiciously like a reference to the same kind of experts who bollixed it in the first place.
The first time some of us old-timers can remember hearing that phrase about the "best and brightest" was when they were designing American military strategy in
Here is Dr. Greenberg's Rx: No excuses, a simple apology, and lots of run-throughs and tests before this world-class junker is allowed on the road again. Maybe a complete redesign. Before it breaks down not just in part but completely, like the wondrous one-hoss shay that came apart all at once.
This just in from the HHS -- a message direct from the Honorable herself. It was waiting for us (as if in ambush) when we opened our emails last Tuesday: "Today, we are announcing key steps the Department is taking as part of a tech surge to continue to improve the consumer experience on healthcare.gov...."
How assuring. Almost as assuring as all the emails she's issued since senators, congressmen and just innocent bystanders began using the word "trainwreck" to describe what was about to happen to Obamacare. She dismissed all their worries and warnings. Just as she's now trying to minimize this crack-up while standing in the midst of the smoldering wreckage.
What does the engineer-in-chief have to say about this rolling wreck entitled the Affordable Care Act? "Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should," the president assured the country Monday, "which means it's going to get fixed."
The president's assurance may prove as solid as his grammar, but at least he's acknowledged the mess Obamacare is in. Till now, he's done his best to minimize his own responsibility for that mess. And his best has been pretty good. It ought to be, considering how much experience he's had at this kind of verbal prestidigitation. But has he learned anything from all this except how to offer more and better excuses?
At the moment, as he tries to explain away Obamacare's more-than-technical failures, our president is showing an almost Republican instinct for both political obstinacy and political self-destruction.
The fault here may lie not with one party or the other, or even both, but with our species, which is given to pride -- the kind that goeth before a fall. A little compromise and humility, as unthinkable as either would have been before the Great Shutdown of 2013, would have saved a lot of embarrassment. It's still not too late to try some.
Could we please just back up and start all over again, Mr. President? Or would you consider such a suggestion unspeakably practical?
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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