Pro-con: Did Sebelius do well at House hearing?

Like the Scarecrow, whoever came up with House Republicans’ plan to deal with Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday didn’t have a brain. The Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee went after Sebelius like so many flying monkeys. But – spoiler alert! – the “Wizard of Oz” film doesn’t turn out well for Dorothy’s persecutors, and the hearing, likewise, didn’t turn out to be the humiliation for Sebelius that Republicans had in mind. Dorothy melted the Wicked Witch with a bucket of water; Sebelius doused her questioners with an unexpected and extended confession of responsibility. This was a sneaky and dastardly thing for her to do: sneaky, because it wasn’t in the advance testimony she gave the committee, and dastardly, because in today’s Washington, D.C., any acceptance of responsibility is so rare that the Republicans – who were counting on her evading and deflecting – were bound to be caught off guard. – Dana Milbank, Washington Post

In the semi-disastrous testimony of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – with such doozies on as, “The website never crashed. It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability,” with a split scene of the site down – there was more than a new batch of gotcha moments for the Republicans to gloat about. There is a fundamental assumption critical to not only Obamacare, but also to the liberal welfare state more generally, namely that it requires a sophisticated and competent bureaucracy. In its collapse and in the testimony of Sebelius, we saw that this assumption may simply be wrong. Forget ideology for a moment. If the liberal welfare state can’t run its own creations, it is not sustainable. This was the sort of hearing that Republicans would not have had the nerve to imagine. In a few short hours, Sebelius, now the face of Obamacare just as much as the president, portrayed just about every quality people hate about big government – incompetent, coldhearted, blame-casting, uninformed and unrealistic. It’s hard to imagine she won’t be the star of many 2014 GOP ads. – Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post