Nov
01
2013

So, @barackobama threw away his #shutdown advantage over #obamacare. Why?

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.

12 Comments

  • Darin_H says:

    Shorter: Ego

  • jbird says:

    It’s possible that a delay would have allowed every healthy 20-30 something to not get insured at ridiculous rates thus skewing the pool even more for next year. And, when the insurance companies announced their new rates for 2015 3 weeks before the mid-term election based on a customer pool filled with sick people. . . DOOM!
    -
    Right now, best case scenario, it’s just a couple bad news cycles a loooong time before an election with a compliant press and an electorate with the attention span of a goldfish. Better to go through the pain now, especially if you are a true believer who fully expects the promised “$2500 savings per family” to materialize any minute now (aka in the 2015 renewal rates that come out right before the election)…
    -
    Now I don’t expect 2015 rates to go anywhere but up. . . but if you are drinking the koolaid and think everyone not drinking koolaid is obviously a racist, then it makes sense.

    • Jeff Weimer says:

      That DOOM is going to happen anyway, an order of magnitude larger, because the *employer mandate* was delayed until this time next year.

  • Jeff Weimer says:

    I would add another reason why, and it’s compatible with both Jonah and yours; he considers his true enemies to be Republicans (forces of evil) and cannot allow them to even *appear* to “win” anything, even at the cost of a strategic victory down the road.

    • jbird says:

      Ironically, He probably could have blamed the Republican demanded delay for the through the roof, skewed 2015 renewals and the press would have run with it. Perhaps a delay would have been win-win for the president.

  • Luke says:

    This *is* the same administration that thought it was a capital idea to encourage arms transfers to Mexican narco-traffs.
    .
    And thought that replacing a friendly despot with the Muslim Brotherhood would somehow serve our interests.
    .
    Feel free to supply your own favorite examples. There are bushels.
    .
    I’m past the point of believing anything he does has any point of contact with objective reality.

  • jackson6644 says:

    First of all, it’s entirely possible (indeed, likely) that the problems in the site weren’t widely known at the top (even to Sebelius). The idea that Obama would have been able to push aside months (years, even) of friendly presentations with mockups of how the site is going to work wonderfully just because someone is prattling on about how all of the items on the Open Risk list are all in red only a week before go-live seems unlikely to me.

    Also, I think we need to work to keep our references a bit more cohesive. You start off channeling the emperor from Warhammer 40k and then at the last minute veer off into full-on Cyberpunk (or possibly Shadowrun). Tighten it up, Moe.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      I have absolutely no intention whatsoever to let President Obama wriggle out of this. If he had had me over for cakes and tea, I would have told him not to act like a danged God-King with multiple drop-down screens; but Barack Obama wasn’t smart enough to seek me out, and he needs to live with the consequences. :)

      As to your second point… fair enough. I plead insufficient caffination.

    • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

      That Obama apparently didn’t realize that the problem was partly a technical one, that he apparently didn’t realize the shortcomings of himself and his appointees when it comes to technical matters, that he picked politically reliable cronies instead of those qualified to attempt the technical side is his own doing..
      .
      Yes, one could say something about the media, or the American people. Or even the Senate for confirming the appointments. Yes, this is very consistent with his management practices in other areas, and a reasonable man might have expected this to result.
      .
      It is his signature on the relevant documents appointing various officials.
      .
      As for the rest, there are a lot of that model in fiction, and non-fiction. Riffing off all of them seems sound to me. Cybernetics, including the transhumanist stuff, is entirely appropriate as certain moderns find machine spirits* entirely plausible substitutes for some varieties of ancient mid-eastern king.
      .
      Being virtuous, sitting in a char facing south is not good management practice, nor is it a good fit for the job requirements of the President of the United States of America. I’d also quibble over Obama’s level of virtue. Some of his policy strikes me as akin to cutting people open to try and find good and evil inside of them.
      .
      *I say spirits, because their description has more in common with those, then with, say, machines as described by Kipling’s Secret of the Machine (I always forget the proper plurals in the name) poem.

      • Brian Swisher says:

        Re: your first paragraph — Obama is the anthropomorphic personification of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

  • Brian Swisher says:

    I have never seen the word “apotropaic” in a blog post before. Kinda like hearing “anarcho-syndicalist commune” in a comedy.
    .
    Now I have a cool new word to play with. Thanks, Moe!

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