There’s only one reason I am aware of the post-Civil War ballad “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen.”
In the Season 1 original Star Trek episode “The Naked Time,” an Enterprise crewman falls victim to some alien bug and takes control of the ship, warbling the tune repeatedly over the public address system, to the chagrin of the crew.
But this week, needing an appropriate radio theme song for the travails of embattled HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, I found a lovely version by Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan. It struck the appropriate melancholy mood:
“The roses all have left your cheek
I watch them fade away and die
Your voice is sad whene’er you speak
And the tears bedim thy lovely eyes.”
There is a running narrative that she cannot survive the debacle that is the Obamacare website rollout. It is worth evaluating whether this is proper in the short run, and whether it helps the goal of killing the Affordable Care Act down the road.
When she joined the Obama team, my only impression of her was as a fairly innocuous Democrat Governor of Kansas who had not shown up on my radar as a result of either stunning brilliance or noteworthy mischief. A woman of impressive achievement, she seemed a worthy fit in the new cabinet.
But there is danger for respectable mainstream Democrats in signing onto service on the twisted ship that is the Obama White House. Sebelius did not take much collateral fire at first as an Obamacare operative, but she was saddled with delivering the usual tortured explanations of how we were going to cover every living soul with every condition known to man, but it was somehow going to cost less.
While she did not suffer many slings and arrows as pro- and anti-Obamacare forces engaged in early battles, a different issue delivered a cannon shot to the HHS Secretary’s approval ratings. It took the case of a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who needed a lung transplant but ran afoul of an absurd rule that denied her a lung because she was under 12.
Sebelius refused to modify that rule, and was ultimately directed by a federal judge to do so in a finding that called the rule “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”
With the little girl home and recovering, Secretary Sebelius could look forward to a summer of reputational recovery.
Just when it looked like the IRS was going to be the whipping boy agency for Obamacare critics (and that day will come), along came the gift that keeps on giving-- the unmitigated catastrophe of the rollout of healthcare.gov.