Over the weekend, the Department of Health and Human Services put out a news release, eagerly reported by CNN and other media cheerleaders, that claims that nearly a half million Americans have completed applications for Obamacare coverage. That’s a mean feat considering that a week ago, a team of nonpartisan bean counters fixed the official number of enrollees at 36,000 and that over the weekend the site was down for repairs (again).
An equally curious coincidence is that the 500,000 figure was the predicted enrollment number specified in a leaked HHS memo.
But far more puzzling is why Obama staged a press avail in the Rose Garden today to announce concerted action he will be taking to — in the words of Politico — “handle what’s quickly become an embarrassing start for the health care law that will shape his legacy.” If the administration has surpassed its first-month sign-up quota, why do damage control?
And if you’re going to concede that the rollout has been deeply flawed, why cart out a bunch of warm bodies who successfully signed up for the health care law and can attest to its greatness? That’s what Obama did today, USA Today reports:
Obama’s guests … included ‘individuals who have already applied for and enrolled in quality, affordable coverage through the marketplaces and those who are planning to after exploring and comparing their new health care options,’ the White House said.
This is not the first time Obama has sent out mixed signals or resorted to political theater to smooth over a messy situation. But it is interesting that he still believes he has the American public bamboozled and that the mainstream media will provide cover.
Which to a large extent they will. Consider this half-hearted attempt at truthfulness by National Journal’s Ron Fournier. The title of his article — “Why Obama Should Be Freaked Out Over Obamacare” — is ominous. So is the opening paragraph:
President Obama is ‘frustrated’ by the disastrous launch of an online computer marketplace for Obamacare, the White House says. Here are five reasons why frustration isn’t enough. He should be frightened.
But in the end, Fournier just can’t bring himself to make good on reason number 5: “It could hurt Americans.” The ways in which this law has already hurt Americans have been heavily documented. They include killing jobs and forcing consumers to relinquish affordable policies in exchange for unaffordable ones.
Instead of acknowledging that, Fournier bails, writing:
For decades, politicians in both parties pledged to ease one of the leading causes of anxiety in the post-industrial age, the lack of affordable health care. Nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured, or about 15.4 percent of the population. Millions more are underinsured. Obamacare, enacted three years ago over the objections of Republicans, may or may not be the answer. But, as the White House likes to remind Republicans, it’s the law and it deserves a shot.
How sadly ironic it would be if Obamacare is denied a fair shake because of its namesake’s mismanagement.
Even more ironic would be making health care less obtainable to some Americans and more costly to many others because of an egotistical president who is too prideful to admit he has laid an egg.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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