Jonah Goldberg and I may have originally disagreed over who ‘won’ the shutdown – but Jonah is as startled as I am at how horribly Barack Obama handled the situation, given what Obama knew:
…consider Obama’s only clear-cut political victory since his reelection. Republican demands were a bit of a moving target, but basically the GOP wanted either an all-out repeal of Obamacare or, as a fallback, a one-year delay of the individual mandate. By the end, they would have taken even less.
But Obama wouldn’t consider it. Instead, he played hardball with everything from national-park closures to, temporarily at least, denying death benefits to military families. As the debt ceiling loomed, the GOP relented. Conventional wisdom says Obama won, and I basically agree with the conventional wisdom.
Or at least I did. There’s something those of us scoring that bout didn’t know: The president desperately, urgently, and indisputably needed to delay the rollout of Obamacare.
It’s actually kind of incomprehensible. As Jonah went on to note, Barack Obama was in a perfect place to turn a horrific problem for him (the site was non-functional) into a ‘concession’ that would have cost him nothing and us a good deal of momentum. Why he did not do that is a matter of some debate: Jonah concludes that Obama didn’t really understand the depths of the problem, while I take the position that the man is simply too committed to his unique technocratic vision* to admit that messy reality was mucking it all up. Of course, at this point having this discussion is like arguing over just why the rubble is bouncing in such a particular way…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Basically, Barack Obama seems to think the ideal form of government is one where everything is run by perfectly-trained and expert bureaucrats who handle 99.99999% of all problems before they ever make it up to the top, which is of course where the God-Emperor and his personal court lounge about. Every so often, said God-Emperor stirs on his throne and issues a general statement, which is then seized upon by the experts and turned into majestic policy by the power of technocracy. Rather more often, the God-Emperor conducts apotropaic rituals designed to keep the forces of evil (hi) safely imprisoned in the Outer Darkness. Rather more often than that, the God-Emperor plays golf. In short: think Chinese empire, plus cybernetic theory**.
Look, I’m not saying that that wouldn’t be a fun job to have: the above paragraph is pretty descriptive of the game play assumptions behind Civilization V or SimCity. But those are GAMES. This is REAL LIFE.
**No, not the kind of cybernetic theory that tells you how to install and hide a holdout pistol in your bionic arm. Which is kind of a shame, I know.