What the president heralds as his signature accomplishment is not only creating great domestic upheaval as a political and policy failure, it is also an immense American technological failure on display for the world to see.
The American brand has been dealt some sharp blows under this administration. We are suffering from a weak economy, reeling from the recent embarrassing debacle over Syria’s chemical weapons, and we still haven’t brought anyone to justice over what happened in Benghazi. The world watched as our enemies protected junior nobody Edward Snowden when he handed over our secrets, and now the world is witnessing unbecoming squabbling in Washington as our government remains shut down. We also have to contend with this unflattering picture of American technological capabilities. We may have invented the Internet, but our position as the leader in computer and software development has suffered a setback.
The White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claim they do not know how many Americans have successfully signed up for Obamacare. Unofficial reports say that perhaps as few as 51,000 people were able to complete applications during the first week. Is President Obama angry about this roll out? Does he not know what is happening? How long can his administration pretend it doesn’t know the extent of its problems?
While the Republicans have done a lot to create competing news that has momentarily pushed some of the focus on the failures of Obamacare to the back burner, the issue is not going to go away. It’s only a matter of time before this administration will have to face reality.
So far, President Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Press Secretary Jay Carney and the rest of Team Obama are just glossing over the troubles of the Obamacare Web site. If this administration holds true to form, it will eventually find someone else to blame — whether it’s President George W. Bush or Republicans generally.
In politics, bad gets worse. I fear that America’s enemies and competitors, who are always looking for signs of a distracted America, see a new weakness in the Obamacare fiasco. The White House does not seem to be dealing with any problems in a forthright way.
Well, Team Obama can stonewall for a while, but House Republicans have already sent a letter to Sebelius asking for precise information about how the Obamacare Web site design was so badly botched and what steps have been taken to fix the problems.
By the way, information technology specialists and chief technology officers seem to agree that there is no reason the Obamacare Web site should have been such a disaster. As one chief technology officer told The Post, “I think that any modern Web company would be well prepared for a launch of this scale. We’re not talking about hundreds of millions of people and we’re not talking about complex transactions.” As Forbes columnist Avik Roy points out, the HHS should have been able to “anticipate the need to build a system that can handle the average daily traffic of the Drudge Report.”
Shopping online is not new. There are a lot of templates already in place, from travel Web sites to online retailers. If the Obama administration had just admitted it needed a one-year delay in the individual mandate, perhaps it could have avoided this whole situation.
This fiasco is inexcusable, but you can expect this administration to exhaust every possible excuse before we finally get the truth.
Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC