Last fall, when Healthcare.gov went live and crashed again and again, Sebelius’s response was not to take responsibility or explain why the job was botched so badly but to plead for slack from customers. “Hopefully [website users will] give us the same slack they give Apple…. If there’s not quite the operational excellence right away, we’ll continue to press for that,” she told the press. “Apple, you know, has a few more resources than we have to roll out technology, and a few more people who’ve been working on the system for a while, and no one is calling on Apple to not sell devices for a year or to, you know, get out of the business because the whole thing is a failure.”
That reaction helped to explain why HHS botched the job so badly to begin with. The government spent upwards of $677 million on the design and implementation of Healthcare.gov, so Sebelius’s claim wasn’t just misleading but strikingly out of touch with reality. The fact is that if Apple put out rotten products year after year without changing things, they would be out of business, as the rotting hulks of once-giant bankrupted companies can attest. That President Obama parroted the same line didn’t help matters.