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November 13, 2013

White House Officials Spin Politico Reporter, Pushing Two Contradictory Claims: The President Was Totally Engaged on Healthcare.gov and a Dilligent Manager, But Knew Absolutely Nothing About It At All

Note they need these two things to be true to get Obama off the hook. They can't just say "He didn't know nothin' at all." After all, he's the President, and this is his signature achievement (and I use that word advisedly).

So they push the idea that yes, He Didn't Know Nothin' At All, but then, insanely, also push the idea that he was Totally On Top Of Everything, Serious You Guys, He Was Always Asking Questions.

The article claims Obama was always asking the right questions-- the right, probing, insightful questions. The problem is, the article strongly implies, is that the President was lied to at every single turn.

And yet no one's been fired.

Before quoting the article, I wanted to cite the reporter's previous work in spinning on behalf of Obamacare. Here is Carrie Budoff Brown explaining away Obamacare's failings, including Obama Gigantic Lie, told 36 times on the campaign trail.

Enjoy a Thesaurus Tour through all the euphemisms for "lie:"

President Barack Obama’s soundbites are coming back to bite him.

As he attempted to sell a complex health care reform plan to skeptical voters during the 2008 campaign and his first year in office, Obama boiled down the benefits to a series of pithy promises:

If you like your existing insurance, you can keep it. Shopping for a plan would be as easy as buying a plane ticket on Expedia. Annual premiums would drop by $2,500 for the typical family.

The simplicity of those messages are now running up against the reality of implementing the most far-reaching health care overhaul in 50 years.

For every positive statistic about the law, there’s a horror story that calls into question the broad promises of Obamacare and gives Republicans something else to criticize. It’s forced the White House into yet another frustrating round of Whac-A-Mole, beating back one negative development only to find several more right behind it.

The latest controversy about the upheaval in the individual market shows that — long after problems with HealthCare.gov are fixed — there will still be an endless stream of bad-news anecdotes to compete with the administration’s charts, figures and feel-good tales about how the law is working for millions of Americans.

“The Obama administration has certainly tried to remind people of the long-term policy goals and to take the long view,” said Sabrina Corlette, project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University. “But in this environment and 24-7 news cycle, it is really hard not to get caught up in the anecdote of the day.

Five million anecdotes of the day have had their insurance cancelled by Obamacare, despite his "pithy promises."

Now comes Carrie Budoff Brown's Crowning Moment of Spin By Understatement:

Some of the highest-profile challenges are the White House’s own making. Obama made sweeping generalizations that can be contradicted by individual experiences.

Some verbal assurances may be contradicted by actual facts; i.e., "were lies."

Not everybody will see the deep savings that he promised during the 2008 campaign. A large percentage of people who buy their own insurance won’t be able to keep the exact same policy. The website hasn’t been nearly as breezy as predicted.

So that's Carrie Budoff Brown's previous yeoman work spinning for Obama. It's little wonder that when they had a new bucket of bullshit to smear on the American public's faces, they called her.

In an article most of the rest of the liberal media is flagging as a "Must Read," Budoff Brown expresses some skepticism about Administration claims, but not all that much, as she relays the claim that Obama was a diligent micromanager and yet knew barely anything at all about Healthcare.gov.

In the days after HealthCare.gov went live, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough quietly dispatched Jeff Zients, a favorite West Wing fixer, to assess the operation and report back.

When Zients did, President Barack Obama learned the project was in worse shape than suspected — riddled with coding problems, management issues and communication gaps, according to a senior administration official.

It was only then that Obama and his top aides realized the extent of what they didn’t know.

So far, so good-- Obama didn't know what he didn't know about Obamacare. (We have to build the website to see what's in it.)

But soon we'll be reassured that, despite being totally ignorant of anything, Obama was totes asking all the right questions, because he's An Genius.

The story of how a technology-obsessed White House failed to head off a technological disaster may be as simple as it is mind-boggling to the law’s supporters. Senior White House officials claim they just never anticipated the magnitude of the problems that would unfold — there was concern, yes, but not an impending sense of doom.

The notion that Obama wasn’t clued in seems to defy logic, given the warning signs from both within the administration and outside it, the importance of the law’s success to his presidency and his own understanding of the power of technology.

Fair enough -- she's suggesting skepticism.

But now she embraces the Administration spin:

But ever since the troubled launch, administration officials have tried to keep Obama as far as possible from the debacle, describing him as engaged in the implementation but unaware of the depth of the website issues.

...

Obama’s main line to the people working most directly on the project were his monthly meetings with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services director Marilyn Tavenner and other top officials, including White House chief technology officer Todd Park, who will testify Wednesday. They met more frequently in the weeks before the launch, and Obama pressed for unvarnished assessments, but the White House didn’t receive signals that a website fiasco was looming, aides said.

This is inserted to rebut the suggestion (mostly from liberal quarters) that Obama is in such a bubble, protected from bad news by Yes Men aides, that he never quite gets the truth.

So here are his courtiers to reassure the reliable Ms. Budoff Brown that Obama demanded the "unvarnished" truth.

But they didn't give it to him.

And yet he hasn't fired anyone.

Except for the one guy, Tony Trenkle, who actually did try to get the Unvarnished Truth out!

Go figure that the rest of the minions won't give him that Unvarnished Truth.



He tried to convey that his staff needed to bring problems to his attention before they spun out of control. Obama even told them that unless they got HealthCare.gov right, nothing else mattered. The response he got, aides said, was that it would work.

Obama heroically gave obvious orders and his employees ignored him.

So he's like a powerful president, right? Even his direct employees blow him off.

In the final weeks, White House aides often heard of flare-ups but they would quickly receive explanations for how the problem was resolved. They didn’t feel knowledgeable enough about IT issues to determine whether the solution was adequate, aides said.

Mm-hm. You know what they could have done? Asked a lot of people in the White House to try to sign up for Obamacare via the website and checked to see if the thing actually worked, by actually trying to see if the thing actually worked.

Now, as you can see, CMS is being thrown under the bus here; Obama is not only claiming they own this failure, but that they lied to his face about the coming failure, thus keeping Our Resident Genius from solving all the problems with his Wondrous Brain.

But CMS, apparently, has got the word that they're supposed to take their underbus-throwing and shut up:

A CMS spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.

Now remember, Obama is essentially claiming Sebelius and Tavenner hid the website's problems from him, despite his Fully Engaged Attempt to Probe at the Unvarnished Truth.

This makes the following paragraph difficult to understand:

Since the launch, Obama has increased the frequency of his meetings with Sebelius, Tavenner and other HHS officials, sometimes calling them to the White House twice a week for briefings. He gets a report every night that details the latest progress on the site overhaul.

Oh he's getting a report every night from the people he's (by implication) claiming lied to him all the way through this and refused him the "unvarnished" truth.

Wonderful. I'm sure these new reports are totes unvarnished.

By the way, the Administration has seriously moved the goalposts on the fixes for Healthcare.gov. Previously, they vowed it would be working by November 30th; now their "pithy promises" and "representations that may be contradicted by individual experiences" are more... nuanced.

“Our goal is to have that website functioning effectively for the vast majority of Americans by the end of this month,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

Ah. It will work for the "vast majority," now.


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posted by Ace at 12:02 PM

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