When your presidency’s melting down over a giant boondoggle, naturally the people you want around you in your hour of suffering are the ones who helped convince you to do it in the first place. Wait, what?
Ever paid a “social visit” to someone trapped in a burning building?
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) November 15, 2013
— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) November 15, 2013
Ax, Plouffe, former head speechwriter Jon Favreau (who, fatefully, convinced O to stick an applause line about universal health care into a stump speech in 2007), and former White House national-security spokesman Tommy Vietor. The gang’s all here — with the notable exception of Robert Gibbs. Is Gibbsy late to the party (i.e. strategy session) or was he not invited after he displayed bad form in noting on MSNBC that Healthcare.gov is a galactic clusterfark?
Meanwhile, as O huddles with his spin team on the all-important task of covering Democrats’ asses, the “tech surge” crew struggles to put out the fire that Obama couldn’t be bothered to care about until it was too big to contain:
The team doing 24/7 repair work on HealthCare.gov has its priorities set.
About 50 of them.
Jeff Zients, the Obama administration’s point man in the repair mission, joined the daily update for reporters Friday and said there is a top priority punch list – with “50 priority fixes as we enter this week.”
And that doesn’t count the lower priority fixes in what Zients called an “iterative process.”
Darrell Issa’s committee released e-mails this morning written by CMS official Henry Chao in mid-July wondering whether Healthcare.gov’s tech contractors “are not going to crash the plane at take-off.” An even more dire e-mail sent by another CMS official (page 4 here) worried that a build for part of the site “appears to be way off track.” If you believe Obama, none of these alarm bells rang in the White House until after October 1, when the site had already launched; somehow, for nearly three long months, the warnings of looming catastrophe never escaped from CMS to their boss, who’d staked his presidential legacy on it. The fact that Zients and his team still have 50 “priority” fixes to make suggests that they’re not going to be ready by December 1, which means Obama has another humiliating press conference coming up in a few weeks to address the December 15th deadline to enroll if you want coverage to start on New Year’s Day. Maybe that’s what today’s huddle with the ol’ gang is all about. If you’re going to break the news that Healthcare.gov is cocked up too badly even for a month-long “tech surge” to rehabilitate it, how on earth do you that? How do you convince congressional Dems to trust you on anything going forward?
For your homework assignment, read Andrew Stiles on how a website with as many security holes and backed by as many fraudulent representations as Healthcare.gov would surely be targeted by the FTC if it wasn’t a government production.