Yeah, Liberals Should Be Pretty Pissed Off at Obama Over the Obamacare Website FUBAR

I just had an email conversation with one of our editors about the principles of headline writing, and it brought up an unrelated subject that deserves a brief blog post of its own. The question is: Just how pissed off should liberals be at President Obama for the massive FUBAR of the Obamacare website rollout?

I’d say the answer is pretty pissed off. Sure, there were issues he couldn’t control. Federal procurement rules are what they are. Republican resistance made the job bigger than anyone had predicted. Funding had to be scrounged up because Congress wouldn’t allocate the money.

But look: Anyone who’s worked in or around government for more than a few years knows that big IT projects are black holes. They’re always late. They never work. And surprisingly often, they’re epic catastrophes, projects so screwed up they literally have to be completely abandoned after years of work. That’s just baked into the cake.

Like it or not, this means that everyone should have known that the website was a huge potential point of failure. In fact, not just a potential point of failure, but a highly likely point of failure. You don’t need to have a background in IT to know that, just a background in watching projects like these over the years. And since the website was obviously so central to the overall success of Obamacare, that means it should have gotten lots of presidential mindshare. But as near as I can tell, it didn’t. It just got a routine amount of White House oversight.

That would have been fine for most IT projects. The president can’t oversee them all, and some proportion are going to be disasters. But this wasn’t “most” projects. This project was a key component of what’s obviously going to be the biggest legacy of his presidency. Routine oversight wasn’t enough.

So yeah, this is a huge black mark on Obama. He should have known what was at stake in having a competently managed rollout, but apparently he didn’t. He blew it.

 

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate