John Dickerson didn't mince words about the "bad launch" of ObamaCare in his Tuesday item for Slate.com. The CBS News political director invoked one of deceased tyrant Kim Jong il's most infamous saber-rattling tactics: "Healthcare.gov launched with the fanfare and success of a North Korean missile."
Dickerson also rephrased his recent contention that "the administration could get into, sort of, a credibility death spiral" on the issue of ObamaCare. He stated that "when the website doesn't work and the promises of 2009 and 2010 are revised, questions of credibility infect everything the administration says. This can lead to a death spiral as administration officials make bold assertions to distract from the current challenges."
The journalist led by zeroing in on the President's notorious talking point that "if you liked your doctor and your health care plan, you would be able to keep it", and noted that this was the "one piece of information it was impossible to avoid" during the first year-plus of the Democrat's first term, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He continued by bluntly dismissing any attempt to explain this promise away now:
...[I]t was a surprise to many people to get a letter like the one Independence Blue Cross sent its customers weeks ago. It said that as a result of the Affordable Care Act, "your current plan will be discontinued effective January 1, 2014, and you will need to select a new plan by the end of December to avoid any interruption in coverage."
That wasn't what the president promised. But wait, the president can explain. It's not what we think. People won't have the same insurance—they will have better insurance, administration officials assure. That's not the way some of the people receiving these letters see it. The president's original promise was so ironclad and repeated so often that any explanation now sounds like dissembling.
Dickerson then dropped his North Korean simile, and added that "what started as a website debacle is growing into a relitigation of the underlying operation. The Affordable Care Act passed with cracks and inconsistencies that are now re-emerging in the context of the website's bad launch....the failure of the site is weakening the administration's ability to engage in those old debates."
Later in the piece, the political director led up to his "death spiral" label by asserting that "the president's message about his signature law has always been: It gets better, I promise. That was always an uphill battle. The benefits of the law were strung out over time, making it harder for people to recognize a payoff. 'Trust me' claims clash with people's mistrust of politicians and government programs." He also took down a Tweet from Valerie Jarrett, where the Obama senior adviser tried to run to the President's defense over his now-refuted promise: "This is spinning—which is to be expected from a president's defender—but its legalistic dissembling seems particularly weak in light of the president's initial promises."
Dickerson concluded that the failures of ObamaCare "help obscure [congressional Republicans'] recent flirtation with utter collapse....This debate over his initial claim lends credibility to their longstanding opposition to the law."