Hear me out. Imagine if what transpired in the first few weeks of Healthcare.gov's life continued until the end of March. It's not about the politics of the Affordable Care Act, either - the entire IT industry would be devoting considerable time, energy and money defending itself against a citizenry that would have lost a lot of faith in technology's ability to actually do things. "Why use the website," they'd say, "when it's faster and easier to call?"
The fact that Healthcare.gov rescued itself from utter embarrassment and (re)constructed a website able to register millions of Americans for health insurance is no small feat. Sure, it would've been nice if Healthcare.gov worked properly the first time, but sometimes you need to make a monumental error the first time to know what you truly need.
Loser: Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Unfortunately, the stains of that monumental error won't wash out easily. When you're repeatedly mocked in the opening skit on Saturday Night Live, you have a PR problem that isn't easy to solve.
Ultimately, problems as large and as public as Healthcare.gov's failed launch go straight to the top. We will thus largely remember Sebelius as a failed IT project manager and not as a two-term Kansas governor once on the short list of women likely to be the first female U.S. President.
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