The Conversation

Did Obama know the ObamaCare launch disaster was coming?

As tales of the ObamaCare launch disaster mount, and web experts pick apart to find squirming nest of sloppy code and bloatware that would have crashed under the traffic load of the average condominium association's "Welcome to the Neighborhood!" website, some are wondering if President Obama knew it would be this bad.  There is no way to reconcile this epic clusterfark with a single word he said during the weeks, months, and years leading up to Launch Day.  He didn't give us even the most cursory warning that there might be serious problems, let alone a wholesale meltdown.

There's plenty of documentation to show the Administration was warned about this,  The Washington Post writes of "Administration allies" raising concerns, and insurance companies "pulling out their hair" during conference calls with the clueless Department of Health and Human Services.  The Canadian government sacked the prime contractor for ObamaCare after they "missed three years of deadlines and failed to deliver the province's flagship online medical registry" in 2012, according to the Washington Examiner.  Oh, well, good enough for the most expensive website launch in history, according to Barack Obama and his team!

Some wonder if Obama himself is so heavily cocooned by bootlickers and yes-men that he honestly didn't know it would be this bad, much as there have been theories Saddam Hussein was so cosseted by underlings that he thought he really did have a significant nuclear weapons program.  That's possible - remember, Obama is famous for skipping out on briefings, except for the brief period after the Benghazi attack when he suddenly started attending them, until he could get through those crucial post-outrage news cycles.  Obama's philosophy is about amassing power, not attending to duties.  What matters is making the government larger, and punishing opponents - something he's been doing throughout Shutdown Theater with relish.  The actual performance of a new mega-program is not terribly important in his worldview, provided it's permanent.

Also, the Obama Administration has perfected the Incompetence Defense, in which scandals can be deflected by high officials claiming they don't know what their departments are up to.  This includes the President, who survived the early days of several scandals by claiming, with a straight face, that he doesn't know what any part of his mega-government is doing until he sees it reported by TV news.  The media has repeatedly proven willing to indulge the Incompetence Defense.  IRS officials are using it right now, in fact.  Plausible deniability is the key, so one can imagine the President casually informing aides that the less he knows about anything, the better, and for God's sake don't put anything in writing.

But there are so many reports of known failures and design flaws pouring in from so many quarters that we must suspend disbelief to think some of the news didn't reach Obama as he was teeing off on the ninth hole.  It wouldn't have changed his behavior any.  For one thing, he's adept at living from one news cycle to the next, and as mentioned, the media is happy to oblige him.  His promises of a generally smooth and effective ObamaCare launch will not be remembered or held against him, any more than his promise that people could keep the health-care plans they liked, period.

Also, remember that the ObamaCare defunding movement was getting ramped up in the weeks before launch.  Obama could hard afford to give someone like Senator Ted Cruz political ammunition by honestly admitting that the exchange system was a debacle, and really needed to go back in the shop for months or years before it was ready for prime time.  A few people are getting through - a whole five of them reported in Iowa!  There will be enough of them to cobble together a photo op in a few more days.  That will put Obama in a far better position than warning us about impending catastrophe at T-minus two weeks.

Warnings of trouble from the Administration would also have come back to haunt them during the inevitable oversight hearings, when Congress starts asking tough questions about where those hundreds of millions of dollars went, and why the resulting system wouldn't meet the performance expectations of computer users in 1989.  You really don't want to face Rep. Darrell Issa when he's waving a New York Times story from mid-September headlined "Administration Officials Warn of Catastrophic Flaws, Plan to Launch System On-Time Anyway."

And finally, it simply would not occur to Barack Obama, or anyone in his inner circle, that wasting the valuable time of American consumers with a glitchtastic website that leaves them pounding their keyboards after hours of frustration is offensive.  Your time doesn't matter to them - the state of the American tax system should be enduring proof of that - and a good number of Obama's favored constituents have plenty of time on their hands to waste.


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