Paul Greenberg

Just don't ask too many pesky questions like, "How many of these folks already had insurance before, but had their policies canceled and will have to pay higher premiums now?" "How many exceptions, delays, waivers, 'protected classes' and escape hatches in general have been necessary to paper over the holes in this tub, and how many are yet to come?" And, perhaps most relevant and troubling of all, "How many of the young and healthy are signing up for this wondrous program in order to offset the older and sicker being covered, and so keep this whole Rube Goldberg contraption afloat?" Answer: There isn't one. Nobody knows, or at least dares not guess. Better to just dance and prance around the wonderful wizard who's brought all this to pass.

Surely someone as intelligent as our president can see through all the hooey he feels obliged to peddle, but being a master politician, i.e., a Wonderful Wizard, entails certain sacrifices, beginning with one's own dignity. After all, the president's slightly exaggerated version of events, to quote a character in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, is "merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."

And yet some of us can't help but remember, indelibly, other highlights of Kathleen Sebelius' unfortunate tenure at HHS, like the time last October when she was in the midst of telling a congressional hearing that Obamacare's website hadn't crashed at all, appearances very much to the contrary. "It is functional," she explained, "but at a very slow speed and very low reliability, and has continued to function." Even as giant screens all around the hearing room trained on that very website continued to show its unwavering announcement: "The system is down at the moment. We are experiencing technical difficulties and hope to have them resolved soon." Soon turned out to be weeks, if not months.

It only seems like an eternity that the country has been waiting for this not so Affordable Care Act to click in and work. But remember this: The system never crashed. It couldn't be allowed to, not in the merry, merry land of Obamacare, aka Denial.

In the Rose Garden last week, everything was coming up roses, of course. And like roses, Obamacare requires lots of fertilizer to produce those pretty blooms, however illusory.

It's quite a show. It's just not much of a health-insurance program. Somebody get a hook and repeal-and-replace this farce, cutting out the army of patronage used mainly to expand the Medicaid rolls in the guise of a new government program. And save those of its features that always did have bipartisan support, like letting 20-somethings stay on their folks' insurance till they're almost 30-somethings, and making sure prior health problems don't keep an American from getting some kind of health insurance.

But would those simple fixes be too down-to-earth for this master illusionist, even as his latest and greatest illusion fades?


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.