The Obamacare Inept Launch Exposed Incompetence and Hubris The Obama technocrats believed that rolling out this gigantic pogram would be easy. Therefore nobody checked. And President Obama did not check because he believed he did not have to

By Paolo von Schirach

November 15, 2013

WASHINGTON – Notwithstanding the non stop coverage about the website disaster, the health policy cancellations and the likelihood that many young people will not sign up into the system, one can still argue –and many analysts do– that on balance there will be plenty more winners than losers once Obamacare is finally in place and running.

More Americans covered

Yes, millions of Americans who had no coverage will be covered. Plenty more will be carried by Medicaid, medical welfare for the poor. Free health care surely beats any health insurance. People with pre-existing conditions will get insurance. But if it is indeed so, if in the end there will be many more winners than losers, why does President Obama look so gloomy? If in the end his reform will work out, why the long face?

A tale of arrogance

I have an explanation. The real story here is not the conservative argument that Government is bound to fail when it forces people to do certain things in the name of an improved social good. No, the real story is that the Government went about imposing its social engineering recipes with the arrogance of a know-it-all teenager all of a sudden CEO of a major corporation. Obamacare is about grandiose schemes of social transformations run by incompetent and superficial people who could not even manage the design and launch of a website –in America. Indeed, In America. In case you forgot, we have talented people in IT here. In fact, we are the world leaders. 

Intellectual hubris

The deep flaw of Obamacare is not about the desire to re-design health insurance in order to spread benefits to many who did not  have them. Obamacare is about proving to the stone age conservatives and other assorted naysayers from the right that smart people who control the levers of public policy can and will do magic. And they can do so because they are really, really intelligent. 

This is called hubris.

It is the same hubris that made Obama and his crew of economic advisors underestimate the depth of the Great Recession. Just a few months in office, they thought that they had all under control. Well, they did not. Granted, eventually we got out of the swamp. But this has been the worst economic recovery in terms of rates of growth and jobs creation in modern history. After years of “growth” we still have unemployment above 7%.

“We fixed the economy, now on to health care”

And it was largely because they believed that they had the economy under control that the Obama people engaged in this maddeningly complicated attempt to reform health insurance. And they did not care about the simple truth that in America complex public policy changes always require bipartisan support. Obama and the Democrats did not have any support from the Republicans, but they went ahead and did it anyway. 

This is hubris. “I know what is good for you, and I’ll make you get it”. Now the critics wonder how on earth the Health and Human Services (HHS) people manged to waste three years of preparations. (The law was passed in 2010). I am not so surprised. If you think you are a genius, then you do not need to do much studying for your test. You just breeze through it.

The amateur crew exposed

And this is why President Barack Obama looks like he has aged 15 years. He knows that this farce of a roll out showed the profound weakness of his administration. There is really no excuse for this level of incompetence. Now he know that he has been exposed. And this hurts badly, because he was supposed to be a genius.

George Bush was supposed to do stupid things

Going back a few years, all the pundits believed that George W. Bush was a dunce, an accidental president who got into the White House because of a Supreme Court biased ruling. Being stupid, we expected him to do stupid things. He was routinely described as a dangerous fool, at times delusional. Therefore the pundits expressed no surprise when Bush fumbled. “What can you expect? The man is stupid.” 

A new President combining appeal and superior intellect

But Obama was supposed to be a totally different breed. A magic blend of man of the people, natural grace and superior intellectual gifts. He was the smart, young President with a real touch of genius. Well now, after this health care roll out disaster, we know that he does not have much genius. Worse yet, now he knows that we know. As he lacks real humility, he feels dejected because his profound weaknesses have been exposed. 

All went wrong

There he is, the great actor on opening night and everything goes terribly wrong. The stage setting is for a different play, and it also falls into pieces. The supporting actors forgot their lines. The lighting is off. And he is there, on stage, looking like a fool. The much anticipated performance has been ruined. He has been publicly humiliated.

But, wait a minute, who was supposed to direct everything? Who was supposed to make sure that all was in place for this signature event? Well, he was. And why didn’t he check? Because he did not think he needed to. In his own perfect world, all is done well.

It may still work politically

As I said, in the end Obamacare may work out politically. Not so well from a fiscal stand point, because I cannot believe that it is possible to do all this nationwide health insurance re-engineering, (most likely without the critical participation of adequate numbers of  the young and healthy who are supposed to subsidize the rest), and save money. But remember that from a liberal politics stand point, the fact that in the end all this will cost much more money than anticipated is irrelevant. What will matter politically is that, thanks to this health care “reform”, more people will get coverage, many of them for free. In a democracy where you get elected mostly by promising a free lunch, delivering subsidized or free health care to millions is a political victory.

Obama exposed

And yet, whatever the long term political outcomes, Obama will never recover from this October 2013 debacle. The extravagantly inept execution of his signature legislation proves that he has been running a crew of amateurs. And it also demonstrates that he was and has remained an amateur –with an extremely high opinion of himself. Now the genius President looks ridiculous. He has been exposed. And he knows all this. My hunch is that he will never get over this very public debacle. And this is because getting over it would require humility. The problem is that hubris and humility do not go together.

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