The Sunday Washington Post Outlook section offers one of those ultimately frivolous but irresistible features entitled “Worst Week in Washington,” usually written by Chris Cillizza. Past winners have included such obvious choices as Anthony Weiner, and so forth. This week’s winner is . . . the Blackberry? Really? Just because of a stupid outage, how does that qualify as the worst week for someone or something in Washington? Another good reminder of the Beltway-centric attitude of the media, akin to the famous British headline, “Fog in Channel—Continent Cut Off.”
Cillizza has a decent excuse for not getting the real answer for Washington’s worst week—clearly it was Obama—because the Outlook section goes to bed on Thursday night or Friday morning, and most of Obama’s really bad news this week didn’t hit until Friday afternoon, chiefly in order to avoid making Cillizza’s column. Friday afternoon brought the news of a record federal budget deficit, the cancellation of the CLASS health care program—one of the marquee sidecars of Obamacare—and news of the bizarre military intervention in Africa to combat a gang of thugs who sound like a rejected idea for bad guys in a Stallone movie. The last one is a good example of the fecklessness of Obama, as there is a reasonable amount of bipartisan support for this small excursion. A few folks are asking for some kind of doctrine—why here, and not in Libya or Syria? The common sense answer no one seems to want to say is: because we can. Libya and Syria would resemble Iraq and Afghanistan—big, hairy military engagements. These thugs in Africa really can be rolled up by the cast and stunt doubles of The Expendibles. But the fact that the Obama administration avoids even the smallest attempt at articulating a rationale is probably due to his overall dislike of U.S. military power and the use of American force abroad.
But the biggest setback is the CLASS program. Cancelling the CLASS program for long term care because not enough healthy people were signing up to make the numbers come out right ought to sound like a “firebell in the night” (to borrow that famous phrase of Jefferson’s), as it may well sound the death knell for Obamacare overall. If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, it will make the fiscal structure of Obamacare untenable. If there is a shred of consistency (okay, a generous assumption) in the policy making cadre in the Administration, they will know that Obamacare will become impossible to implement. Some of us know that already, but you have to remember that these folks are slow learners.