In a Thanksgiving missive that reads more like a love letter to the man than a newspaper article, the Washington Post has announced that Denis McDonough, the White House Chief of Staff, is now in charge of the healthcare hairball.
“McDonough is now holding evening meetings every day with key players in the health care rollout,” says the Post, “offering support even as he holds agency leaders accountable.”
Support and accountability? Wow. Evening work too. Whoa.
In Obama’s White House?
If I were McDonough, I’d get my resume ready. Perhaps when he’s looking for work next time, he can just not mention the whole White House thing.
It’s almost as if Obama’s popularity is depending on the implementation of the healthcare law.
In any event, I’m wondering why McDonough wasn’t holding evening meetings, offering support and accountability for the law last January when he took over as Chief of Staff?
That’s what chiefs of staff do.
Of course, in this White House, they need more a caretaker or a minder than chief of staff, but that’s another topic for another day.
Herding cats doesn’t even begin to define the management problems of the administration, unless you allow for the cats to be drug-addled relics from the 1960s and 1970s.
In my own personal experience, I’ve had a few assignments in my life with a lot less public and personal importance than Obamacare. Yet I prepared like my life depended on them, because, um, you know… for those of us in the private sector, success counts for something.
Like our paycheck and job security.
There was that time for example, when an associate and I were trying to conduct a hostile takeover of a failing federally-insured bank to save it from shutting its doors. At the same time we were running a competitive primary to get him elected to Colorado State House.
The stakes weren’t that high.
Only my whole paycheck…from July to the rest of the year. And his paycheck, too.
Nights, weekends? Yes and yes.
Whatever it took, hard work-wise, to make the deal happen we did it.
In the end, we won; we saved the bank.
But the shareholders won, the depositors won and, best of all, the taxpayers who didn’t have to bailout a bad bank won too.
All of us have had experiences like this in life when we trying to do something hard…and we ended up successful.
We all know that the student that studies improves his odds a lot. All it takes is a bit of foresight and hard work in preparation.
So if you look at healthcare.gov as a sort of bad bank—it is after all federally insured against failure by the American taxpayers-- my question is: Why keep the management that got us to this point in the first place?
Is McDonough really the guy to save it? Or Obama?
“If you have something that significant,” says Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as reported by the WaPo,” that’s the kind of thing I would think I’d have somebody sleeping with it day and night. When they go to the bathroom, they’re on the cell phone talking about it. When they go to sleep, they dream about it.”
BEFORE it became a problem.
“We went straight into problem solving,” McDonough told the Post. “We knew that going into this, that no plan survives first contact. We knew that we would be confronted with challenges along the way.”
Because “first contact” is a term for war, not for well-crafted legislation.
Perhaps it was a Freudian slip. Perhaps the administration really does think legislation is like waging war on the populace.
It would explain a lot about how they do things.
My experience is that good laws survive “first contact” if you read and comprehend them before you vote for them.
Even bad laws can survive if implemented in smart ways.
But when you have the wrong guys implementing the wrong laws, you’re in for trouble.
No amount of catching up will fix the flaws in Obamacare.
No amount of patching will fix the flaws in Obama either.
Good luck to Mr. McDonough, but if hard work can fix this thing, he’s the wrong guy with the wrong boss and the wrong laws.
Let's try changing one those three first.