WASHINGTON — While the nation's attention has been riveted on the Keystone Congress, the executive branch was busy developing its own comedy routine. Picture the cast (you know the characters) shrugging their shoulders in unison: “Who, me?”
This would be the response to the glitch-rich health care rollout, for which no one seems responsible. “Beats me. I thought it was working!” This would also be the response to the eavesdropping scandal, which soon could become an international showdown. “Who knew?” Hint: He used to work at the NSA and now lives in Russia.
Not least, the shrug also would be the response to a White House rumor that a certain Republican House leader said to President Obama during a government shutdown meeting, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”
Except no one said it. Shrug.
The rumor kicked off uncharacteristically glitch-free when Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., heard it from what he apparently considered a reliable source and posted it on his Facebook page.
In fact, no one said it, according to a White House official, who attributed the untruth to a “miscommunication” during a report by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Meanwhile, the “rollout,” a term forever tarnished by the ineptitude displayed since Oct. 1 when Americans were finally going to be able to sign up for “affordable” (translation: I buy, you pay) health insurance, has been an embarrassment. Even if one is inclined to grant benefit of the doubt (because technology can be a beast), evidence suggests that the “glitches” were the result of poor judgment and bad decisions.
Four contractors hired to set up the computer system testified during congressional hearings that system testing began just two weeks before the launch date — and the test failed. Part of the problem was a decision not to allow customers to browse anonymously, as most people doubtless would prefer. Privacy and all that (chortle, chortle). Instead, people had to fill out forms before they could take a peek at the merchandise — an unmanageable burden to a system inadequate to the immense demand.
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