Obama’s Last Move: Deny the Problem and Try to Escape in the Fog

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Obama’s Last Move: Insist There’s No Real Problem and Try To Escape in the Fog

President Obama’s message to those being notified that they’re losing their insurance: “If you’re getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace. That what it’s for.”

It’s as if he was completely unaware that the site was down for a good chunk of Wednesday.

Then we have Sebelius’s testimony Wednesday morning: “I would suggest the website has never crashed. It is functional but at a very slow speed and low reliability.”

This is the spin of the desperate man: Despite all the evidence all around us that things are not fine, I will insist that everything is fine, and my hope is that I will create enough doubt in enough minds about whether or not things are fine to survive the day. That argument isn’t really enough to win — he’s not likely to persuade the public that the sites are working hunky-dory — but it might reassure the low-information voters inclined to like him that the current outrage is overhyped.

Over the next few weeks, you’re going to hear a lot of administration defenders insisting that things with the website aren’t so bad lately. They’re wrong; we’ll talk about that more in item three. You’re also seeing people assuming that it will be fixed at the end of November. As we’ve laid out, a fully or even largely functional web site by November 30 is probably a longshot, and perhaps even an impossibility.

No wonder they’re in a “bunker mentality,” as Chuck Todd says. Obama and his team have finally encountered a problem that they can’t successfully spin, cover up, distract from, or blame on the opposition. (This doesn’t mean they won’t try, of course.) Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the IRS targeting of conservatives impacted too few people. The Syria bombing about-face is easily forgotten. The NSA scandal and its fallout abroad doesn’t impact Americans on a day-to-day basis.

But this . . . this is just too big. You can’t just trot out another shiny object. (“Hey, the Obamas have a new puppy!”) You can’t ignore it. You can’t wait for the media to forget about it. We’re talking about perhaps as many as 15 million people losing their health insurance:

As many as 80 percent of people who don’t have a company-hosted plan or insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid government programs may have to find new health coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance-industry consultant in Arlington, Virginia. About 19 million people are included in this market.

Remember, the goal of Obamacare was enroll 7 million in the first year. (As you’ll see in the next item, they’re not going to hit that goal.)

Some undetermined percentage of those 15 million people won’t like what they’re offered on the exchanges, no matter how many times Jay Carney calls their old plans “substandard” and Obama calls their old providers “bad-apple insurers.” They are not going to forget this.

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.