If Obama were a chess master — or even a fairly adept checkers novice — he would have known that when you’re not ready to do something incredibly important, it’s best to buy time. He could have traded a delay (three months? six months?) for some major budget concessions, maybe even lifting the sequester. Perhaps his base wouldn’t have liked it, but he could have easily spun the compromise as a necessity given how irrational and “extreme” the GOP was being.

Publicly he’d say he was paying a ransom to “kidnappers” and “hostage takers.” He’d denounce Republicans for delaying precious insurance coverage for sick kids and frail oldsters just to score partisan and ideological points.

But privately, ah, privately, the master strategist would be stroking his proverbial white cat — or, in reality, his hypoallergenic black dog — while breathing a sigh of relief that he bought himself some time to fix his woefully mangled health-care reform.

Obviously he wouldn’t want to delay Obamacare. But that decision was out of his hands due to his administration’s incompetence. The only choice before him was whether he would get the blame for the delay or if the Republicans would.