Is this news? On the one hand, of course they shouldn’t have launched it on October 1. That the site wasn’t ready to handle traffic isn’t a matter of political debate, it’s a fact. The only people who disagree are the lowest of low-information voters and the hackiest of partisan Democratic hacks. Behold:
They would’ve been hit with a wave of bad press if the launch was delayed, especially in the middle of a shutdown, but it couldn’t possibly have been worse than the press they’ve gotten for parading their galactic incompetence for the past seven weeks.
On the other hand, this raises questions. If she thinks it shouldn’t have gone live on October 1, when does she think it should have? Whose call was it to launch the site that day? If they had delayed instead, would it have been easier for the tech team to find and repair the site’s problems? Would delaying have inspired the GOP, sensing O-Care’s weakness, to hold out longer during the shutdown? Would it have increased the odds that Obama might agree to delay the mandate or the entire law until the website was finally ready to go?
I bet there are a few red-state Democrats who’d be interested in the answers.
When asked why officials pushed ahead with the Oct. 1 launch date despite warnings the site hadn’t been properly tested, Sebelius said they were hoping to give consumers as much time as possible to enroll before coverage begins in January.
“We were hoping to maximize that,” she said. “Clearly that was a bad call.”
She also said that November 30, the widely accepted last-clear-chance for Healthcare.gov to improve to the point where it can handle a massive number of daily enrollments before the December 15th deadline, is “not a magic go, no go date.” Which, I guess, is her way of signaling to panicky Democrats not to get their hopes up about a big turnaround next month. This part is fun too:
David Kennedy, head of the Ohio-based TrustedSec, a company that offers to hack into private systems to determine vulnerabilities, told the House Science Committee that a cursory look at the website revealed multiple “exposures” that put it at “critical risk.”
Asked about those concerns, Sebelius said: “I feel like it’s safe. Absolutely,” adding, “when there have been issues identified or flagged, it’s immediately fixed.”
A tech expert who built a business on his know-how says Healthcare.gov is a security disaster waiting to happen, and the person in charge of the most notorious website debacle of the Internet age says nuh uh. Imagine being a Democratic incumbent in Congress and reading those two paragraphs. Knowing that the political ice is already thin and getting thinner, how excited are you by the prospect of hundreds of thousands of users swarming onto the site next month after it’s “fixed” and some sort of mass hacking scheme compromising their personal information? Obama mumbled something yesterday about needing to “rebrand” the website. Good luck with that if/when the weeks-long 404 disaster is suddenly overtaken by a giant security breach.
Speaking of which, turns out there’s a reason Carney was cagey with reporters yesterday about what Obama knew and when. He later admitted that O was indeed briefed on the alarming McKinsey study back in March that identified major problems with the website’s development:
[H]e said the president’s familiarity with the report and recommendations did not contradict previous statements from the White House that described Obama as surprised by the scope of flaws in HealthCare.gov.
Obama was told that the problems identified by McKinsey were being addressed, Carney said. And Obama had never claimed to be unaware of “red flags” about the site, only of their seriousness.
But since the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, the question has persisted whether the president has been “less than competent or less than candid,” said John Pitney, professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. “This tips the scales in favor of less than candid.”
Exactly my point in yesterday’s post. No one much cares whether O knew how bad things were because, whatever the answer, it’s a grave indictment of his leadership. Either he knew and rolled it out anyway — a “bad call” even by Sebelius’s admission — or he was so insulated from the truth about his biggest policy gamble that he was genuinely caught off guard when it blew up on the launchpad. Liar or enormous chump? You make the call.