Sorry, Obama, Spin Won't Help Health Site Debacle

President's sales pitch fails to reassure, and might make things worse, say pundits

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 22, 2013 1:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Barack Obama's speech yesterday defending and apologizing for the ObamaCare rollout has pundits talking—and more or less agreeing unanimously that it was a feeble attempt to save face. Here's what they're saying:

  • "Rhetoric and will isn't going to solve this problem," writes John Dickerson at Slate, and in fact, it might just make things worse. "Putting a good spin on things only sets expectations that can then be dashed by reality." And every setback is potentially devastating, because if young, healthy people get the idea that the program is a mess and don't sign up, "the death spiral scenario kicks in," with costs shooting up.
  • "The commander-in-chief hawked health care plans the way George Foreman sells grills and James Dyson sells vacuums," quips Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, mocking the president's infomercial-worthy assurances that it was a "great product" and a "good deal." Obama's played pitch-man before, but the stakes are higher now, because if ObamaCare fails, "so will this president and his party."
  • "Too bad this infomercial lacked tangible information," complains a Wall Street Journal editorial. "Mr. Obama might have explained what went wrong, and why, and where the buck stops." To the Journal, the debacle exposes that "ObamaCare's claim to technocratic expertise was always a political con" and that liberals are less interested in results than in centralizing "political control over health care."
  • Still, "amid his professions of irritation, vague promises and unsubstantiated optimism, the president did express one important truth: The HealthCare.gov implosion doesn’t say much about the soundness of Obamacare writ large," Bloomberg points out. But if Obama wants to restore confidence he needs to fix the site, fire the people responsible for the mess, and explain how and when the government might delay tax penalties for people who can't use the site.

President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden on Monday.
President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden on Monday.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
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