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Why Dems better hope Obama's lying

By S.E. Cupp
updated 5:03 PM EST, Sat November 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • S.E. Cupp: Repeated snafus in health exchange rollouts make it seem Obama's playing it by ear
  • Cupp: He's either lying about not knowing exchange website not ready, or he's incompetent
  • She says lying would be better it's politically survivable. Incompetence is more damaging
  • Cupp: Dems tout ability to make government solve problems. Botched rollout hurts their brand

Editor's note: S.E. Cupp is co-host of the new "Crossfire," which airs weekdays at 6:30 p.m. ET on CNN. She is also the author of "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity," co-author of "Why You're Wrong About the Right," a columnist at the New York Daily News and a political commentator for Glenn Beck's "The Blaze."

(CNN) -- As the fallout from the botched launch of Affordable Care Act's exchanges continues, it grows ever clearer that website glitches are only a small part of the problem with the cumbersome -- and increasingly unworkable -- law. One has to ask: Is President Barack Obama making this up as he goes?

It's hard to imagine that the President and the team charged with implementing Obamacare couldn't have foreseen the problems that have continually popped up. Yet, here we are, bringing in "tech surges" to examine the website problems, security experts to mitigate privacy concerns, insurance executives to "brainstorm" ways to actually insure people. And all the while the President has implied he was the last to know that storm clouds were on the immediate horizon.

There are two possible scenarios here:

S.E. Cupp
S.E. Cupp

One, the President is lying, and quite effectively. If he knew that the website wouldn't be up to snuff, or that millions of Americans would not, in fact, be able to keep their insurance plans if they liked them, then he simply made a calculation that many politicians make: Lies aren't necessarily fatal. Except when they are. Just ask Richard "I'm not a crook" Nixon, George "Read my lips" Bush, or George "WMD" Bush.

Or two, Obama is hopelessly out of the loop. Whether it was the IRS scandal, the NSA spying program or these ACA collapses, no one in his immediate circle appears to have felt it necessary to inform the President of looming problems that he might have to answer for, let alone solve.

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If I were a Democrat like Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, who recently told the New York Daily News, "Saying you're sorry doesn't help me worth a damn at the polls," I might be hoping it's the former. Politicians who lie are hardly exotic. Chicanery is often merely the price of successful political salesmanship.

Incompetence, on the other hand, is far more damaging to the Democratic brand. Whereas the left and much of the narrative in the popular culture have already written Republicans off as impolitic and inept, liberals, on the other hand, assert their intellectual superiority and tout their "willingness to govern" and get things done as party mantra.

Not only is the left smarter and more sophisticated, they insist, they're also supposed to prove that government can solve problems. More pointedly, that big, unwieldy bureaucracies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS can solve massive problems, like healthcare.

Whether he was uninformed of or simply incurious about the potential failures, Obama's lack of preparedness and competence in implementing his signature piece of legislation not only diminishes his credibility as a problem-solver, but it jeopardizes the faith in government that liberals rely on. When government looks hapless, private-sector innovators are empowered and emboldened. For liberals, that's bad for business. Better they hope he was merely being dishonest.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of S.E. Cupp.

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