Topic: Politics & Elections
So this is the thanks she gets! Barack Obama, relying on some dubious stats, just declared that his signature initiative was a huge success after all. And to nprove it he sacked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the good soldier who carried the can for Obamacare’s disastrous rollout.
I’ll say this for Sebelius: Though incompetent, she was loyal. Recall how she insisted that poor President Obama, isolated in the Oval Office, had no idea in the world that the Obamacare website was unready for prime time. You sort of have to respect a woman who can recite a lie that big with a straight face. But then as the weeks and months of torture by Obamacare wore on, Sebelius had plenty of opportunities to perfect her trademark stony expression, which will remain the face of Obamacare long after she has vanished into well-deserved obscurity behind the walls of some Kansas think tank.
In retrospect it appears that despite her high-and-mighty title Kathleen Sebelius actually had little to do with the design and rollout of Obamacare. Certainly she was not distinguished by any special expertise in the area of healthcare reform. And of course, she was the second choice for the post of Secretary of HHS, shoved into the job at the last moment after the original pick, former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle, crashed and burned due to tax problems. Sebelius has been roundly criticized for poor management—but how was she, a political appointee with no clue, supposed to mange the regulation-writing process that put flesh on the bones of Obamacare? The truth is that the DC bureaucracy has become unmanageable. The monster has taken on a life of its own. No one really understands what it’s doing or what the consequences of its actions may be. Feed the thing a new law and it will regurgitate a mountainous stack of administrative regulations, usually incomprehensible, often contradictory.
Where Sebelius really let down the side was on the PR front. Once the scope of the rollout fiasco became clear, the Obama Administration needed a competent, upbeat, hands-on crisis manager to take charge of the repair job—or at least, someone like that who appeared to be taking charge. But instead there was Sebelius, seemingly the very epitome of clueless incompetence. Among American public figures, she may now hold the record for cringe-inducing moments of public embarrassment. And the fact that she appeared unmoved by all that humiliation and mockery somehow made it worse.
The President can dance in the end zone all he wants, but Obamacare’s comically inept debut has reserved for his signature initiative an early grave. Public opinion already reviles Obamacare. The cynical strategy of postponing the law’s more damaging provisions until after the next elections will only make the pain worse when they do kick in. The next president, whoever that turns out to be, will have no choice but to euthanize Obamacare and replace it with something else. And though Kathleen Sebelius was not the architect of this Rube Goldberg masterpiece, she will always be remembered, and not fondly, as its poster girl.