Obamacare website 'a recovering patient'
- 1 December 2013
- From the section US & Canada
It was more of a "phew!" moment than "mission accomplished".
The Obamacare website was "night and day" from where it had been but there would be "no magic moment", White House officials claimed.
As many have already pointed out, President Obama had to avoid that moment of hubris when George W Bush declared the Iraq war won, before it went horribly wrong.
So instead of standing on an aircraft carrier, there was a briefing down a phone line on Sunday morning from an official with lots of geeky detail and references to graphs.
The upshot was that a lot of bugs had been fixed but the delicate website was to be treated like a sick but recovering patient, not to be exposed to too many stresses and strains.
The focus would be on getting existing customers through the system, not taking on new ones.
The real test will be over the next few days as politicians and journalists gleefully attempt to get the system to crash.
The glitchy website has become a metaphor as well as a problem in its own right.
If it doesn't function properly and get enough people on board, if not enough healthy people sign up, then Obamacare will fail on a very practical level.
But beyond that it has become the ugly poster-child for the Republican contention that big government can't work and should have left healthcare alone.
It raises concerns about the very complexity of the reforms. I've heard many ordinary Democrats wish that Obama had gone for the hugely more controversial but easy to understand big fix of a single payer system like the British NHS.
Many others think he should have gone much smaller bore and fixed the system one problem at a time. The way this unfolded says something about Obama's political and managerial style.
The legacy of a president hangs on the next few days and months of Obamacare and its unwell website.