Jonah Goldberg

Watching President Obama's press conference Thursday, I almost started humming the old ditty the "Farmer in the Dell" because all I could think was: "The cheese stands alone."

The president did his level best to explain that he was as in the dark as anybody about the problems with his signature legislation.

He explained that he was not "informed directly" that the Healthcare.gov website was about as ready to run as a three-legged horse at the Preakness Stakes. Apparently, the old saw that the "buck stops" with the president never took into account the possibility that the buck could get lost in interoffice mail.

While all of the attention has been focused on the executive branch's spectacular failure, it's worth taking a moment to note that Obama was not the sole author of this disaster.

You can absolve Congress -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- of blame for the website's dysfunction. The record is pretty clear that the White House froze them out of that process. That was why Democratic Senator Max Baucus, an architect of the law, finally went public with his prediction of a "train wreck" -- because he was sick of being kept out of the loop on the site's progress.

In our system, Congress allocates money for stuff it wants and then lets the executive branch implement the law. If the president messes up, Congress gets to come in afterward to criticize and offer ways to clean up the mess.

But you can't let Congress off the hook for the underlying driver of this calamity: the lie that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period." This is now beyond dispute, though there's still some squabbling about the "L" word itself. It wasn't a lie, Obama and his defenders insist; it was simply an "incorrect promise" in the words of The New York Times. I somehow doubt that locution would provide much cover for an adulterer who tells his wife, "Honey, I didn't break my wedding vows. That was just an incorrect promise."

But whatever label you want to put on that untruth, Obama wasn't alone in offering it. Moreover, even though the legislation may go by the moniker "Obamacare," the fact is the president didn't write the law. Congress did, specifically congressional Democrats, with virtually no Republican input.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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