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Jonathan Bernstein

What Ever Happened to Obama's Iraq?

Obamacare was supposed to be Obama's Iraq. Or Katrina. Or something.
This is not health care reform. Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
This is not health care reform. Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

So it turns out that health care is not President Barack Obama's Iraq. Or his Katrina. The new signup numbers -- 6 million and counting -- on the Affordable Care Act exchanges make it clear that the roll-out of the bungled federal website didn't destroy the law.

I should say right away that some find the very notion of comparing a broken website to a war offensive, and I understand that. Here, however, we're talking not so much about the effects of the policy disasters, but about the governing process. For that, comparisons can be useful -- if they are apt. For me, the problem with ACA/Iraq comparisons isn't that they were offensive, but that they were inaccurate. And there were plenty of them. As late as November 20 Ron Fournier devoted a column to an extensive argument that Obama's incompetence on healthcare.gov was pretty similar to Bush's bungling of Iraq. So did David Gregory. Not to mention plenty of Republican operatives and conservative pundits; John Podhoretz is a good example.