If Carney's comments are indeed rhetorical bread crumbs nudging us toward the eventual capitulation, this morning's astoundingly tone-deaf Obamacare celebration in the Rose Garden will quickly become a distant, laughable memory. Republicans have been pushing for a delay of this disastrous law for months. The White House has rebuffed each effort, routinely insisting that the program would be ready to roll on October 1. In fact, those who sought a needed delay in return for fully re-opening the government were assailed by the White House as suicide-bombing kidnapping arsonists. And now, three weeks in, the president's top spokesman reveals a hairline fracture in Obama's happy-talk facade:
White House press secretary Jay Carney hedged Monday on whether ObamaCare’s individual mandate could be delayed because of problems with the healthcare law’s enrollment web site. Carney did not directly say the individual mandate could be delayed, but he did say that if people could not get access to ObamaCare, they would not be penalized. Under the healthcare law, uninsured Americans are required to sign up for health insurance. If they don’t, they could be hit with a fine. Carney was asked Monday if people would have to pay a fine if they couldn’t enroll in ObamaCare because of a glitchy website that the administration has struggled to fix.
This is the first official indication that the president may be seriously considering a sweeping Obamacare delay. After today's ridiculous bit of kabuki theater, how exactly would a sudden about-face blanket postponement work politically? And is such a delay even logistically viable at this stage? Dan McLaughlin argues that the administration's own legal positions during the Obamacare Supreme Court case could end up haunting them when the next round of lawsuits begin to fly. (Question: Will Obama ask Congress for the delay, or just impose it unilaterally? If past is prologue, we already know the answer). Meanwhile, Carney couldn't help but cling to his "we were overwhelmed by web traffic!" excuse during today's briefing, which even Obamacare fanboy Ezra Klein concedes is a deeply misleading characterization of the problem. NBC's Chuck Todd pressed Carney on this point, asking why the president was still making ludicrous promises to the American people mere days before this train derailed -- as the administration knew it would:
A besieged Carney had no choice but to mutter about "finding solutions," and call on the next reporter. Nobody is buying the spin anymore. The New York Times notes that five million lines of code may need to be rewritten, a process that could take weeks or months to accomplish. The White House's now excitedly exclaims that they've enlisted expert to help orchestrate a "tech surge" that will repair the various issue (more than three years after the president signed this law, and more than three weeks since it fell apart on the launchpad). Who, pray tell, is participating in said "surge"? Carney whiffed on that question, too. A comprehensive clusterfark. Even the president's communications department face-planted badly today. As Allahpundit quips, Team O had three weeks to find a dozen or so real people who've managed to sign up for coverage under Obamacare. These people were needed, you see, to stand smiling behind the president during today's photo-op. Against all odds, Obama's theater of the absurd somehow becomes more absurd:
...After reading the White House-provided descriptions of each of those behind the president, it's clear the administration was stretching to present people who, beyond supporting Obamacare, have actually gained from it in any tangible way. For example, a Pennsylvania man named Malik Hassan was in the group, and this is the White House description of his situation, in full: "Malik Hassan works at a restaurant in Philadelphia. Hassan, who does not receive coverage through his employer, is looking forward to enrolling for health coverage this fall. He recently used Healthcare.gov. to process his application and is waiting for the options for potential plans in Philadelphia." So, Hassan is employed, not covered, and has not yet succeeded in finding coverage through Obamacare. That is, in the White House's estimation, an Obamacare success story. Then there is Nathaniel Hojnacki, who recently finished his schooling. Here is the White House description of his situation, again in full: "Nathaniel Hojnacki recently received his Master's degree at Johns Hopkins University SAIS and is in an employment situation without benefits. Hojnacki recognizes the importance of coverage and is planning to enroll after he explores his coverage options on the DC exchange." So, Hojnacki has a job, does not have coverage, and is planning to explore finding coverage through Obamacare. Another success story.
Indeed, it appears that just three of today's 13 human props are actually enrolled in Obamacare's exchanges. Perfect. Will anyone be held accountable for these mounting, crippling, mind-warping mistakes? Will Kathleen Sebelius even appear before Congress to explain herself? Maybe. At some point.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography