Gibbs: Yeah, 2013 was Obama's worst yet

At this point, what use is there in denying it? Barack Obama’s polls amply demonstrate that 2013 was his annus horribilis — so far, a thought to which we’ll get return shortly.  It’s not just Obama who’s had a bad year, either, as Meet the Press host David Gregory notes in framing this question for Robert Gibbs. The progressive argument that government does it better had its worst year, too, which the former Obama press secretary can’t deny:

CBS’ Bob Schieffer extended that theme on Face the Nation, proposing that this was actually the worst year that Washington DC has had since Watergate:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let’s talk about the year in Washington. I must say I find– I can’t think of a worse year that Washington has gone through, with the possible exception of Watergate, of course, which is kind of off by itself. What is going to happen on Obamacare now, Nancy? Is– is this program going to finally happen? I mean is it– is it going to– are people going to be enrolled or there are still problems?

NANCY CORDES: Well, I think our first test will be January first when people have their new insurance programs that they go to the hospital, if they go to their doctor, are they going to be able to get reimbursed, are they going to be able to see the doctor that they want to see and it’s really still an open question. And this is really a challenge I think, in particular, it’s an understatement for Democrats who are really in a bind. I mean– they have supported this, they have taken the slings and arrows on Obamacare for four years now. So they can’t turn their backs on it, you know, it’s– their main accomplishment, and it’s the President’s main accomplishment. On the other hand they do need to show that they think the program needs to be fixed. And going into an election year, every single one of them at some point in the past few years has said, if you like your doctor, you can keep him. If you like your plan, you can keep it. And you have to know that every Republican has found them saying that they’ve got the tape and they’re going to be turning that into ads come this fall.

That’s why Glenn Reynolds thinks that 2013 will be viewed in hindsight as an “average” year — and that 2014 will make it look rosy in comparison:

Unless something turns around, Obama’s 2013 is likely to be similarly “average”: Worse than 2012, but better than 2014.

It’s true that Obamacare has been a debacle, wrapped in a catastrophe, shrouded in a disaster. But it’s also become clear that it was founded upon a lie: Obama’s “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it” statement was named by PolitiFact its lie of the year for 2013. Many Americans have already learned that their individual plans are being cancelledbecause they don’t live up to Obamacare, causing enough chaos that the Obama administration has had to give certain people a last-minute “waiver” of the mandate that they buy insurance. But many more problems have just been kicked down the road — into 2014 — by Obama’s unilateral decision. Ironically, the White House and Democrats were, just a couple of months ago, calling Republicans who wanted to delay the mandate anarchists and terrorists, and loudly proclaiming that Obamacare was “the law of the land.

Regardless, the mandate delay doesn’t solve problems, it just kicks the can down the road. And, as Bloomberg‘s Megan McArdle notes, the White House seems to be reacting to short-term political problems, rather than shoring up the system in ways that will make it work better:

However incoherent these fixes may seem, they send two messages, loud and clear. The first is that although liberal pundits may think that the law is a done deal, impossible to repeal, the administration does not believe that. … This is at best, damage control. Which suggests that the administration is expecting a fair amount of damage.

I think that’s right, and the damage will come in 2014. What we’ve seen so far, most likely, isn’t the worst of it.

The panic from red-state Democrats like Joe Manchin is a clear signal that they think 2014 is likely to be a lot worse, too.