The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

October 29, 2013

A little praise for the dull and competent

(Continued)

Similarly, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010 with a provision allowing uninsured Americans to begin purchasing insurance online beginning now, October 2013. Yet, as this month draws to a close, would-be users of the website still find themselves stymied, frustrated and unable.

Now, as then, failure raises an obvious question: If the government was unable to handle a challenge it knew was coming and for which it had ample time to prepare, what faith can we have in its ability to handle the unexpected? Say, a terrorist attack? A chemical spill? A nuclear accident?

Let us now praise competence. While we’re at it, let us demand an explanation for incompetence — and some accountability to go along with it.

It is unconscionable and unbelievable that the nation where Amazon.com was born, the nation that pioneered online retailing, cannot cobble together a website to sell health-care insurance. Though the public so far seems willing to cut the White House some slack — Gallup polling shows that, despite the website failure and years of sustained GOP attack, health-care reform is actually inching up in popularity — it would behoove Team Obama to fix this yesterday. As its lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina undermined the Bush administration’s legacy, so might this debacle threaten President Obama’s.

More important, it is not, well ... healthy when people must question their government’s ability to perform basic functions. Like that wife who spurns her boring husband in the search for something sexier, maybe it’s time we questioned the things that turn us on.

Hope and change are great, compassionate conservatism is all well and good. But you know what? There is also something to be said for just getting the job done.

Competence is the new sexy.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

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