Lots of people are blaming President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for not anticipating and heading off the computer problems that have troubled the opening days of the Affordable Care Act rollout.
Well, let me tell you something. This wouldn't have happened under Jimmy Carter. Carter would have been right down there in the weeds, writing code in his spare moments in the Oval Office. The Saturday Night Live skit where he fixed a jammed mail sorting machine over the phone wasn't that far off.
So, we should be blaming Jimmy Carter for not being president anymore. Damn him.
Also, let's blame the Canadians. It was a Canadian company that led the creation of the website in question. Why do we ever trust anything related to our national well-being to these people? I mean if it involved snow or hockey, sure. But health care? What do the Canadians know about health care? They've got that goofy government-run single-payer system up there that is so wildly popular that the conservative Harper government wouldn't dream of touching it. I guessed they're so goofed on maple syrup that they don’t even understand how bad their system is. Geez.
Or we could just not blame anybody. We could point out that this was an almost unprecedented roll out where millions of people were going to get online at the same moment. Private companies do this all the time -- in closed, controlled systems that can be tested and tweaked over time before they go totally live.
We could even point out that only about 3% of Americans will even need to access the insurance exchanges that the website is designed to help them navigate. We could say that nobody needs to actually be signed up for an exchange until mid-February.
Finally, we could remind ourselves that thanks to the new health care law, maybe 30 million Americans who didn’t previously have health insurance now will, or that millions of Americans will save lots of money under the new system, or that nobody can be denied anymore due to existing conditions. In other words we could put a creaky computer rollout that's one part of a bigger plan into some context.
But let's not be rational here. Let's blame Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama or Kathleen Sebelius. Or Canada.