- - Sunday, April 13, 2014



With Team Obama, every day brings another story that falls into the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” category.

Like Friday, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stood in the White House Rose Garden with President Obama to deliver her farewell speech.

“Unfortunately, a page is missing,” she said to laughter from the friendly crowd. ” … So, I’m just grateful for having had this opportunity …” the secretary said, winging it.

That’s right, the Cabinet secretary lost the final page to her resignation speech and had to ad lib! What a perfect summation of her entire time in the administration. She was in over her head from the very beginning, and she’ll go down in history as the chief of perhaps the greatest policy debacle in U.S. history — the rollout of Obamacare. Ad libbing indeed.

Ms. Sebelius was a disaster from the start. A tax-and-spend liberal governor from Kansas, just days after her nomination it was revealed she was a tax scofflaw (like so many in the Obama administration, including the man on the money, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner).

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Health Care Reform

She admitted “unintentional errors” that led to her taking excessively large deductions for the sale of a home, charitable contributions and business expenses. She paid $8,000 in back taxes — but, of course, only because she got caught.

As HHS secretary, she was the loudest cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act, but behind the scenes she was pushing for wide powers within the 2,500-page law. There are more than 2,600 references to the HHS secretary, including hundreds in which the secretary “shall” or “may” do — whatever. Another 139 times, the law says “the secretary determines” — again, whatever.

The law gave the Obama administration nearly four years to prepare for the debut of Obamacare. But that wasn’t, apparently, enough time. The rollout was beyond comical. The $600 million website didn’t work. At all. Team Obama made excuse after excuse, but Ms. Sebelius was suddenly nowhere to be found.

In the end, the administration claimed victory, declaring that 7.5 million people had signed up for the new health insurance programs (while not saying exactly how many actually paid, or how many of those enrollees had lost their existing policies).

Somewhere along the way, Ms. Sebelius supposedly offered her resignation, effective the day after the enrollment period ended. More likely, top Obama officials demanded that she go far away, especially in the run-up to what nearly everyone predicts will be a horrible midterm election for Democrats.

Both she and the Obama squad declared victory. Ms. Sebelius was leaving because her job was done (ha!). Ms. Sebelius “has become a lightning rod,” Chris Lehane, a communications adviser in the Clinton administration, said. Now “it’s not as easy to use her as a foil in the fall because she’s hit her mark and she won’t be there.”

Or so they hope. The lamestream media declared victory. Ezra Klein, the vaunted former Washington Post reporter, actually sent out a tweet saying “Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won.” Hilarious.

Sen. Ted Cruz mocked the take. “Well, if that’s true, then I hope every Democrat will follow her path and resign as well,” the Texas Republican said.

Other Republicans say the debacle is far from over.

“Secretary Sebelius oversaw a disastrous rollout of Obamacare, but anyone can see that there are more problems on the way,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said. “The next HHS Secretary will inherit a mess — Americans facing rising costs, families losing their doctors, and an economy weighed down by intrusive regulations. No matter who is in charge of HHS, Obamacare will continue to be a disaster and will continue to hurt hardworking Americans.”

On Sunday, there was one more “You Can’t Make This Up” moment.

Ms. Sebelius, asked on a Sunday talk show if she had any regrets, replied, “I don’t.” So perfect.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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