I just finished reading an article in the National Journal explaining why the president won’t fire the person most responsible for the the mismanagement of his signature healthcare achievement, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The mismanagement of the Obamacare website architecture and rollout will become textbook study in information systems classes. Meanwhile, misleading (or is it lying to?) the American people about the effects of the health care exchanges canceling insurance policies is dominating news coverage this week, which is just the latest revelation as middle-class shoppers and Generation Y young professionals are stunned by higher premiums.
It’s still early, but Obamacare is already projecting to be the most bungled federal implementation project in our nation’s history. Who really expects the American people to like what they are seeing anytime soon?
Obama has very few friends in Washington, but unfortunately for the American people she is one of them. Sebelius was an early supporter of Obama’s presidential run in 2000, the first female of any prominence to endorse him while she was Governor of Kansas. They share an interest in basketball and often have dinner together. One of Obama’s many faults is he allows loyalty to irrationally cloud his judgement, and thus the American people are stuck with a cabinet secretary whom any other president would have already fired. She is staying no matter how bad things get for Obama, unless, that is, Republicans force the issue.
Sometimes good policy and good politics walk hand in hand, so the opportunity for Republicans in Congress is before them. A whisper movement to impeach Kathleen Sebelius has already begun outside the beltway, and this prospect should worry the President very much. The American people hold no loyalties to her as they do Obama. They like blaming people for FUBAR’s, and she is the obvious and perhaps deserved target of their wrath. It would be an action that many would cheer and nobody would boo. It would dominate the news coverage for weeks, allowing conservatives to keep the spotlight shining bright on Obamacare so that the American people don’t switch their focus to the latest big news event.
Impeachments of cabinet secretaries are rare, in fact, to my knowledge it has only been done once in our nation’s history when President Grant was stubbornly loyal to his Secretary of War. William Belknap did the honorable thing by resigning before his case went to trial in the U.S. Senate, but the lawmakers were so upset that they went ahead and impeached him anyway.
Would such an effort to impeach Kathleen Sebelius be ultimately successful? In a literal sense that is highly doubtfully as a Senate trial requires a two-thirds majority in a body that is majority Democrat. But the process would take weeks going through the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee and eventually to a floor vote where it takes just a simple majority of House members to force a trial in the Senate. Far more likely the President would have found his wits by then, or she would just do the right thing on her own by resigning. Why would the president want to see the person most instrumental in implementing the law tied up for weeks and months by lawyers?
And that makes the impeachment route a good tactic for conservatives who want to tear down Obamacare. And it would be good politics too. The majority of the American people would support removing her (the rest wouldn’t care) from an obstinate president, and conservatives would win a major battle in the effort to delay and defund the law.
Whether she quits or is fired during the process, or whether she is eventually impeached is of no concern to conservatives. In any case, they would decapitate the head of the snake and the implementation of Obamacare would to some unknowable degree flounder, rudderless in a sea of incompetence without a captain. After all, who says that the Senate needs to confirm a replacement for her anytime soon?
Curious as to reader thoughts.