Yeah, Liberals Should Be Pretty Pissed Off at Obama Over the Obamacare Website FUBAR

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3484010807/">Pete Souza</a>/White House


I just had an email conversation with one of our editors about the principles of headline writing, and it brought up an unrelated subject that deserves a brief blog post of its own. The question is: Just how pissed off should liberals be at President Obama for the massive FUBAR of the Obamacare website rollout?

I’d say the answer is pretty pissed off. Sure, there were issues he couldn’t control. Federal procurement rules are what they are. Republican resistance made the job bigger than anyone had predicted. Funding had to be scrounged up because Congress wouldn’t allocate the money.

But look: Anyone who’s worked in or around government for more than a few years knows that big IT projects are black holes. They’re always late. They never work. And surprisingly often, they’re epic catastrophes, projects so screwed up they literally have to be completely abandoned after years of work. That’s just baked into the cake.

Like it or not, this means that everyone should have known that the website was a huge potential point of failure. In fact, not just a potential point of failure, but a highly likely point of failure. You don’t need to have a background in IT to know that, just a background in watching projects like these over the years. And since the website was obviously so central to the overall success of Obamacare, that means it should have gotten lots of presidential mindshare. But as near as I can tell, it didn’t. It just got a routine amount of White House oversight.

That would have been fine for most IT projects. The president can’t oversee them all, and some proportion are going to be disasters. But this wasn’t “most” projects. This project was a key component of what’s obviously going to be the biggest legacy of his presidency. Routine oversight wasn’t enough.

So yeah, this is a huge black mark on Obama. He should have known what was at stake in having a competently managed rollout, but apparently he didn’t. He blew it.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate