Ed Driscoll

Obamacare Website: Potemkin Villages All the Way Down


“Potemkin Village, anyone?”*, Mark Finkelstein quips at Newsbusters. “Joe Scarborough has offered a scathing simile for the new-‘n-improved Obamacare website. On today’s Morning Joe, he likened the site to the set of a Hollywood Western — pushing back the facade reveals that there’s nothing behind it:”

Even former Obama spox Robert Gibbs — proudly sporting an Auburn jersey — acknowledged that big chunks of the system, including the payment mechanism for subsidies, haven’t even been built. So people can go to the site, receive the illusion that they have obtained coverage, only to find that there is no follow-through. View the video after the jump [at the Newsbusters Website].

Consider what kind of nightmarish scenario we have entered, in which President Obama engineered the government takeover of 1/6th of the our economy, only to inflict a dysfunctional Fantasy Land.

Actually, Scarborough is unintentionally taking a rather cheap shot at Hollywood movie sets, which were always intended to be make-believe, and therefore worked perfectly well for their builders’ intended use — though as Kathy Shaidle quips in the email she sent me with the above link, insert “Spahn Ranch” joke here.

But he’s certainly right that the Website is merely a facade and that Healthcare.gov isn’t working, as John Podhoretz writes today at Commentary:

If you believe the reporting of the New York Times, what the Obama administration said on Sunday was a lie.

The lead Times story today, co-authored by the health-care expert Robert Pear, says this: “The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed.”

The story expands on this point in great detail, but the fact is simple: There is no such thing as a functioning website if the “back end” isn’t working. The “back end” is the catchall phrase for everything you don’t see when you visit a website. It refers to the software that translates pictures and words into what you see here. It refers to the software that mediates the relationship between 1) users who enter information, 2) the servers that store the website’s information, and 3) third parties hired to take some (but not all) of the information and process it on their servers and computers. It refers to the security systems put in place so that the website cannot be disabled by an outside attack and so that the data entered cannot be stolen or otherwise compromised.

In other words, the back end is the website. What many people are seeing now at healthcare.gov is a visual demonstration of a sign-in. If the sign-in data are not transferred to a database, nothing has happened. It’s like taking a practice test; it’s not scored and it’s not registered and it means nothing.

Which is why Gibbs also suggested to Scarborough that “Hey, maybe the White House will start being honest about ObamaCare now,” as Ed Morrissey paraphrased at Hot Air. And if Robert Gibbs, who first floated the idea of Obamacare to his boss when he was getting his clocked cleaned by Hillary in the early 2007 Democrat presidential debates, is now telling the White House to be more honest, we’ve gone (even further) through the looking glass indeed. Though as one of the Hot Air commenters quipped, Gibbs’ timing in bailing out before the White House entered its quagmire phase was fortunate:

Gibbs just happened to be there for the ‘competent’ part of the Obama period — i.e. the part where not enough people were negatively affected by their programs for blow-back to arrive. Switch positions, and he’d be dolloping out the BS in the same large helping as Jay Carney, while Jay was sitting with Scarborough urging the White House to be more transparent about ObamaCare’s status.

As a result, the White House press corps is having fun today treating Jay Carney, Gibbs’ successor, like a chewtoy. ABC’s Jon Karl tries his best to get Carney to utter the words “Mission” and “Accomplished” in the same sentence; another reporter asks if the president himself has signed up yet for his namesake act:

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* All the way down, which is how we got here in the first place.

Update: All the way down:

(Artwork above inspired by a similar example in the 2008 book, Art & Design in Photoshop.)