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Obama tries for reset with Sebelius gone

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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OBAMA TRIES FOR RESET WITH SEBELIUS GONE
Just 10 days after declaring she would “absolutely” be on the job in November, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is stepping down. The official Democratic spin is that having safely landed what the NYT calls the “disastrous” launch of key components of ObamaCare, Sebelius deserves the thanks of a grateful nation. She may have mangled the start, they say, but the former Kansas governor got it together in time and saved the day. Whew! In fact, some influential figures on the left complained that Sebelius’ departure came too soon, interrupting what many Democrats believe to be positive developments for the troubled law. MSNBC’s top political personality, Rachel Maddow, said it was like a sports team that “stops halfway through their victory lap to fire the coach.” It would seem, then, that the administration has been too successful at selling its version of events.

[“The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don’t work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place.” – Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaking to reporters in October.]

Who knew? - Sebelius, being a seasoned pro, no doubt tendered her resignation months ago when the comically bad launch of ObamaCare’s online home outraged liberals who then, as now, believed that the law was about to turn a corner with popular opinion. Her agency and the contractors it hired were terrible at the Internet, which was especially embarrassing for a party and an administration that take pride in tech savvy. President Obama reportedly considered pulling the plug on the site in the weeks after the initial crash. If he would have done so, he almost certainly would have been obliged to send Sebelius packing then, and many Democrats would have applauded his move as a decisive turn toward accountability. But they went a different way. The president and his team instead opted to stumble forward, pad enrollment numbers, delay unpopular or particularly damaging provisions and slog on to April when the White House could declare the mission accomplished. Obama broadly hinted that he was not happy with her work, and did not have her present when he declared the launch successful because the government claimed it had met a goal it set for itself (but subsequently denied having set). But how did Sebelius think that she had Rumsfeldian levels of job security last week but this week find herself having a cabinet secretary’s version of a conscious uncoupling ceremony with Valerie Jarret at a tony West End restaurant?       

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Chris Stirewalt

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