On Thursday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius resigned her position. The New York Times reported the resignation as a punishment for failure:
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.
So Sebelius stuck around just long enough to reach the mythical 7 million enrollment number so Obama didn’t have a major public relations fiasco on his hands. Then she was forced out – although, in a final touch of somewhat charming bewilderment, she announced to the press that she had no clue just how many Americans who signed up for Obamacare were previously uninsured. Competent to the very last drop.
This, of course, provided a vicious coup de grace to Sebelius’ waning reputation. In order to prevent the fallout from wounding The One, Obama acolytes rushed to Sebelius’ defense, hoping to rehabilitate both her and Obamacare by proxy. Ezra Klein, Wonk To The World and former Sebelius critic (“Heads should roll,” he announced in October), quickly tweeted that Sebelius was leaving because she had come, she had seen, and she had conquered:
Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won http://t.co/GYi8z0ItLj
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) April 10, 2014
Others quickly parroted Klein’s Thoughtleadership, including Wonk Part Deux Matt Yglesias:
Why Sebelius can resign now: http://t.co/0sBoQekXAT
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 10, 2014
The Wonk Brigade may look ridiculous today – but then again, the Obama press has been ridiculous in its defense of Sebelius from the start. Here are just a few of the characters who spun wildly in defense of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and who touted her recent 7.1 million announcement as a massive triumph:
President Obama. During the failed rollout of Healthcare.gov, Obama repeatedly defended Sebelius – a position that made no sense, given that Obama had one documented one-on-one meeting with Sebelius in three years and claimed ignorance about its failures. In October, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that Sebelius had Obama’s trust. That same month, Valerie Jarrett stated, “”He is interested in solutions, not scapegoats.”
In November, Obama said Sebelius “doesn’t write code; yeah, she wasn’t our I.T. person.” In February, Obama told Bill O’Reilly, “We hold everybody up and down the line accountable but when we’re midstream, Bill, we want to make sure that our main focus is how do we make this thing work so people are able to sign up.” Just 11 days ago, Carney denied that Sebelius would be leaving. And at the same time, Obama championed Sebelius’ 7.1 million as the greatest news since sliced bread: “As messy as it’s been sometimes, as contentious as it’s been sometimes, it’s progress.”
It appears that Obama no longer considers Obamacare “midstream.” So Sebelius gets pushed out of the boat.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Pelosi defended Sebelius after Sebelius solicited donations from nonprofit healthcare groups regulated under Obamacare to push Obamacare.
“There were hundreds of millions of dollars spent during the debate misrepresenting, mischaracterizing – I don’t like to use this word, lying – about what was in or not in the Affordable Care Act. It was going to be death panels, it was going to be about abortion, it was going to be this, that and the other thing – none of which was true,” Pelosi explained. “So this is not an unusual thing that the private sector would weigh in. And it’s people who want to have people sign up. … And so, no, I don’t have any problem with her [Sebelius] doing that.”
Pelosi is still sticking with Sebelius, too:
Secretary Sebelius was a leader in the long effort to make history for our country with passage of the Affordable Care Act. She has been the key figure in the day-to-day work of implementing the law and securing new protections for patients. Her legacy will be found in the 7.5 million Americans signed up on the marketplaces so far, the 3.1 million people covered on their parents’ plans, and the millions more gaining coverage through the expansion of Medicaid.
So why is Sebelius leaving, just a few days after saying she would be staying through November 2014?
ABC News’ Matthew Dowd: After the 7.1 million figure emerged, ABC News’ Matthew Dowd told Republicans they should laud the Obama administration: “You have to give the President ground to have some celebration. A little bit of dancing in the end zone. I think Republicans would be really smart, let him have the touchdown, don’t ask for instant replay… Get off of repeal. And basically try to argue over cost. Get off of the whole idea – this is the law of the land. Admit reality. And move on and try to argue over costs surrounding it.”
If that 7.1 million figure was so wonderful, why did Obama tell Sebelius not to let the door hit her on the way out?
But that was the theme of the media just last week.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl: “The final sign-up figures will be over seven million when all the numbers are added up. More than seven million! That is an incredibly high number!”
CNN’s John King: “They have seven million!”
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “If Obamacare were a patient, this would be a pretty miraculous recovery, when you consider the fact that this program, this website, HealthCare.gov, was almost pulled offline by the President himself during that disastrous rollout in October and November. But of course they got things back on track–they got the website working. And now, according to a senior administration official, yes, they are on track to hit seven million signing up, as of this week. And that is… pretty big news over here at the White House. They’re reacting with a lot of glee and happiness, I can tell you.”
The Los Angeles Times: “Obamacare has led to health coverage for millions more people.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): Appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos in October, Manchin explained that Sebelius should stay, asking people to join “Team America” in her support:
I think she should stay, and I think she will get the job done. We’ve gotta move forward. If you want to kill the program, and you start making all these changes, that would kill the program. All we’re asking for is don’t have the fine go into place, get market-driven products, make sure you can entice, through incentives, young people that are healthy. We are a consumer nation, we are great entrepreneurs. We can make this happen, but we have to be on the same team, and that is Team America.
Manchin seems to have changed his tune. In February, Manchin flip-flopped on whether Obamacare should be repealed.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): As the problems with Obamacare unfolded in October, Durbin told the press that attempts to subpoena her for testimony were totally unfair: “I spoke to her personally and the Republicans called her and said would you came and testify and she said I have a conflict that day and they said we will do it the following week. Then they went to the press and announced that she refused to come.” Just last week, Durbin
All of his strenuous defense went for naught, apparently, given her new position under the Obama bus.
Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD): Just last month, the governor was asked about Sebelius’ performance. She’s doing a “good job,” O’Malley said.
Kathleen Sebelius. Just a few days ago, she explained that she would not be leaving her post. So there’s that.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.