- - Wednesday, October 23, 2013


The utter disaster of the Obamacare rollout is now a matter of fact. Even President Obama’s Monday morning attempt at damage control in the Rose Garden was a disaster. Behind him stood a score or more of supporters all drawn from points around the country, all apparently in need of Obamacare. Some were in need of a doctor’s immediate attention.

One was Karmel Allison. Yes, her name was Karmel. She was a young lady standing to the right of our president. Suddenly she appeared glassy-eyed. She seemed about to faint. She must have made a gentle gasp because the president suddenly turned around and momentarily forgot about Obamacare. He said weakly, “I got you. You’re OK?” At that point she was helped, do we say, off-stage? At any rate, she was taken away to seek proper medical care. Presumably, it is still available at the White House.

On the president went, explaining away his current disaster. There were millions of people sitting before their computers seeking health care information and enrollment in Obamacare. Well, possibly there were only hundreds of thousands. The White House has not been very forthcoming about online inquiries or information. At one derisible point, the president explained that if those seeking to sign up for health care were tired of sitting alone before their computers getting “try later” messages, they could go directly to the “call centers.”

Apparently, these are centers that can be reached by the quaint expedient of a telephone call. The president offered that the call centers are all staffed “24 hours a day, in 153 different languages.” If I had been present there in the Rose Garden, I would have liked to ask him if among those 153, the language of Kookistan was offered, and how long I would have to wait for the Kookistani to take my call.

Really, this president and his brilliant signature health care law — universal health care in our time — are the stuff of endless comedy. They no longer bear serious analysis, but they are good for laughs. The Tea Partiers and their solons on Capitol Hill were right to ask for Obamacare’s defunding, or at least a delay. The program was not ready to become the policy of the country and may never be ready. Let Mr. Obama’s administration take another year to work out the kinks and leave Obamacare to the comedians for a good laugh. The president can head back to the Oval Office to pore over his maps and discover where Kookistan actually is. What language precisely do they speak? Remember when he informed a European audience that the people of Austria spoke Austrian? Do the people of Kookistan speak Kookian?

The president should have been well aware that his online health care program was not ready for the public’s use. Tested on Oct. 1 for how it would work when hundreds of thousands of people tried to use it later in the month, it locked up after about 2,000 tries. The president then had plenty of time to avoid this week’s embarrassment. His party could have cut a deal with the Tea Party and the other conservatives and delayed the rollout. The Democrats would have looked magnanimous, but they sought something else. Now they look ignominious.

Mr. Obama’s pratfall with health care put me in mind of a fundamental difference between conservatives and a man of the left. The conservative is wary about forcing his policy upon a divided nation. The man of the left plunges forward. President Ronald Reagan was dead-set against abortion, but he recognized that the country was pretty much divided on abortion. It would be better if he settled with limiting abortion where he could and speaking out against it so as to persuade rather than to bully. Mr. Obama had a fleeting majority in both houses of Congress on an issue that about equally divided the nation. He forced it into law. Since then, the majority of the American people have increased their opposition to Obamacare. Their numbers are growing. Mr. Obama’s response is to charge ahead, even when Obamacare encounters grave and grave difficulties.

I say the Prophet Obama should take his health care policies to Kookistan. Maybe the Kooks will like it.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator and the author of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

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