President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about his signature health care law, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama intends to permit continued sale of individual insurance plans that have been canceled because they failed to meet coverage standards under the health care law, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Updated: December 21, 2013 6:30AM
The reviews are in, and Obamacare is a disaster. No, it is worse than that. Obamacare is a debacle, a shambles, a wreck, a fiasco, a flop, a failure and a farce.
To the media, Obamacare is such a catastrophe that mere words cannot describe it. Only comparisons can.
So Obamacare is Hurricane Katrina (The New York Times), the Iraq War (“Meet the Press”), Watergate (Bill Kristol) and “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” (Ben Carson, a columnist and Fox News contributor).
Some people who never had any faith in government have now had their faith in government shaken.
Some people who believe that President Barack Obama never has told the truth about anything (including where he was born) are now wobbly with shock that he “lied” about Obamacare.
A lie, however, is an intentionally false statement. An unforgivable screw-up may be unforgivable and a screw-up, but it is different from a lie.
Presidents do lie. “I am not a crook” was a lie told by Richard Nixon.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” was a lie told by Bill Clinton.
“If you like your plan, you can keep it” was a lie only if Obama intended to deceive. (But how did he intend to get away with it?)
In a news conference last week, Obama said: “With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan, you can keep it, I think — you know, and I’ve said in interviews — that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise.”
Translation: I wasn’t accurate, but I didn’t lie.
Which is not the point, say some in the media, because Obama’s credibility has been destroyed forever and he now is damaged goods. Which is why, they believe, it is fair to compare his attempt to bring health care to the American people to Hurricane Katrina, the Watergate scandal, the shame of slavery and the war in Iraq.
The Iraq War comparison was floated by David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” on Sunday.
“And people have said this is like Katrina; I think it’s more like Iraq,” Gregory said. “That was about life and death; this is not. ... The comparison is everybody looked at [George W.] Bush through the prism of Iraq. Here, I think people are going to look at Obama through the implementation of Obamacare.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I still find it difficult to compare a dismally functioning website to a war that resulted in more than 100,000 violent deaths and cost nearly a trillion dollars.
Yes, I know, Gregory said to ignore the “life and death” part.
But to me, that’s like saying, “Except for the fact there was no iceberg, there was no ship, 1,517 people did not die and there was no movie based on it starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Obamacare has been like the Titanic.”
Or: “Except for the fact that he isn’t a dirigible, he is not filled with hydrogen, he did not burst into flames over Lakehurst, N.J., and nobody said, ‘Oh, the humanity,’ Obama can be compared to the Hindenburg.”
In fairness, Gregory was saying that Obamacare has been such a disaster it has become a “prism” and that “everybody looked at Bush through the prism of Iraq.”
But did they? We invaded Iraq in March 2003, and Bush was re-elected in November 2004. So how much of a prism was it?
And do we know today that a miserable website will be the prism through which Obama’s entire presidency will be judged?
There is no good excuse for how badly Obama has screwed up thus far. The nation that has given the world Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter should be able to produce a working website.
And Obama faces a bigger challenge: If he gets the website working, he then has to get Obamacare itself working.
But he has three years to do it. If he succeeds, I do not think people will view him and his legacy through the prism of a botched start or anything comparable to Iraq, Katrina, Watergate or slavery.
Though, comparisons will be made. And comparisons do sometimes help us understand things. Last Thursday night, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told an audience that he really just sort of fell into his job on the high court. The audience erupted in laughter.
Thomas corrected the audience: “No, it was, like, totally ‘Forrest Gump.’”
That’s the kind of comparison I think Obama would want to avoid.
Roger Simon’s new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes.