The failure of the Obamacare exchanges–two-thirds of which, according to CNN, are not working after launch–is more than just a fulfillment of conservative skepticism of government in general. It also highlights a key feature of Barack Obama’s personality: his absolute devotion to campaigning, and his complete disinterest in governing. Government energies are being directed to shore up his image, at the cost of their basic functions.
Recall, in the wake of Obama’s re-election in November 2012, the glowing profiles of Obama’s campaign and its technical prowess. No one had ever assembled such a large and talented pool of engineering talent; no one had ever used such sophisticated data mining and database technologies; no one had ever used social media so well. Mitt Romney’s own efforts, in contrast, were summed up by the Election Day crash of Project ORCA.
Obamacare has turned into Project ORCA, squared. For weeks, the president refused to negotiate or even to contemplate delaying his signature legislation, even though it was clear that none of the exchanges were ready and that a delay would provide much-needed time to fix the bugs in the system. Facing the reality of failure, the president lamely compared Obamacare to glitches in Apple’s new iPhone–which no one is forced to buy.
In a Wall Street Journal editorial on Tuesday, Scott Gottlieb and Michael Astrue note that the IT plans for Obamacare were mismanaged for a year by Donald Berwick–the radical head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, who President Obama installed via a recess appointment because Berwick’s enthusiasm for state-run health care as a means of wealth redistribution would not have survived confirmation even in a Democrat-run Senate.
It is typical of President Obama not just to favor, but to fight for, the appointment of an ideologue whose commitment to the radical cause far outweighs his technical skill and management competency. But Obama would never have taken that same risk with his campaigns. He insisted on hiring the best and brightest, and made sure they delivered. When it came to the public interest, and those millions of uninsured, he could not be bothered.