I'm hesitant to draw many broad conclusions about the Affordable Coverage Act based on early glitches to the federal Web site. Much of the journalism has been shoddy, lazy or driven by politics.
Readers of this blog know I had my doubts. If universal coverage was not politically possible — not even a public option — then was it worth it for President Obama to stake his presidency on this.
This: A conservative, "market-based" plan that originated in the Heritage Foundation when it had more integrity and implemented at the state level by the GOP's most recent presidential nominee. This: A massive giveaway to the private insurance industry.
But it's done and I want it to succeed as far as is possible with the many compromises that were necessary to achieve a portion of what is considered a basic human right in other advanced countries.
At this point, here is what I know:
• The Republican Party no longer has any claim to acting in the national interest. Patriots? Spare me.
The GOP has spent the past three years doing everything in its power — which, controlling the House of Representatives is substantial — to repeal, defund, underfund and sabotage Obamacare.
Last month, Republicans were willing to bring the nation to the edge of default to achieve this nihilistic goal.
This party, which undid slavery, created land-grant colleges, produced a valuable progressive agenda at the turn of the 20th century, was an essential partner in passing civil rights legislation in the 1960s, whose presidents extended the New Deal and Great Society. This Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ike, has forfeited any legitimate claim to governance. It is shameful.
• The Republicans have no alternative. A $2,000 voucher? "Tort reform"? These are jokes. They only stand for the destruction of Obamacare — and Obama ("it will break him," the former South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint, who dislikes uppity blacks, said). And to destroy the public's faith in government. That's healthy for a democracy.
The party that created the National Parks, Pure Food and Drug Act, expansion of Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans With Disabilities Act and scores of other public goods now holds the public interest in contempt. And, no, "both sides" don't do it. It is a scandal. It is shameful.
• The public good is too dependent on fatcat federal contractors. This was shown in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and here is another outrageous example. These giant companies use their money and lobbying power to ensure that Congress, regulators and the easily confused media look the other way.
• More than 30 years of "gub'ment's the problem" has done much damage to government's capacity to act effectively. So have the constant budget battles, "austerity" and the sequester. So has the nonsense of "running government like a business." Government is not a business. When it becomes one, we get K Street, Halliburton, CGI Federal and all their siblings.
• Kathleen Sebelius is no Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes Sr. or other members of FDR's "brains trust," advisers who proved to be master administrators. She is not Herbert Hoover at his best: "The great engineer," "the great humanitarian," before the Depression wrecked his reputation. And yet this undertaking was so vast, complex and politically fraught that it needed just such a leader.
• The Republicans have done everything to ensure that Mr. Obama's second term is a failure. They did the same with Bill Clinton. George W. Bush's second term began with foundering and ended with catastrophe. How many more failed presidencies can this republic take?
That's what I know now. What do you think?