Pharos-Tribune

Columns

October 28, 2013

PARKER: The White House Comedy Club

While our atten-tion has been riveted on the Keystone Congress, the executive branch was busy developing its own comedy routine. Picture the cast (you know the characters) shrugging their shoulders in unison: “Who, me?”

This would be the response to the glitch-rich health care rollout, for which no one seems responsible. “Beats me. I thought it was working!” This would also be the response to the eavesdropping scandal, which soon could become an international showdown. “Who knew?” Hint: He used to work at the NSA and now lives in Russia.

Not least, the shrug also would be the response to a White House rumor that a certain Republican House leader said to President Obama during a government shutdown meeting, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

Except no one said it. Shrug.

The rumor kicked off uncharacteristically glitch-free when Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., heard it from what he apparently considered a reliable source and posted it on his Facebook page. Early rumor embellishments suggested that House Speaker John Boehner was the demon source, which later was clarified to impugn Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who denied it.

In fact, no one said it, according to a White House official, who attributed the untruth to a “miscommunication” during a report by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Of course, Reid told the entire Senate Democratic caucus, identifying Sessions as the evil-doer. Durbin did not name Sessions in his post.

Voila! A rumor is born. Roll cameras. The White House regrets the “misunderstanding.” Cut.

Meanwhile, the “rollout,” a term forever tarnished by the ineptitude displayed since Oct. 1 when Americans were finally going to be able to sign up for “affordable” (translation: I buy, you pay) health insurance, has been an embarrassment. Even if one is inclined to grant benefit of the doubt (because technology can be a beast), evidence suggests that the “glitches” were the result of poor judgment and bad decisions.

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