Editor’s note: Richard Connor wrote this column for the April 21-27 Business Press in response to news reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was thinking about running for the U.S. Senate. Shortly after the paper went to press, Sebelius announced that she will not be a candidate. The oh-so-curious timing of the announcement leads us to a suspicion and a conclusion: Someone in Washington intercepted Connor’s column during the government’s routine surveillance of electronic transmissions and passed it along to Sebelius, who read it and realized that she’d be out of her mind to run for the Senate. Seems farfetched, you say? Really? Do you know who’s reading your emails?
Trying to understand Washington and the otherworldly folks who inhabit it is folly. You’ll have a better chance trying to unravel Gary Busey’s brain.
If our politicians ran around on all fours, they’d be declared rabid, and turned over to animal control.
Take Kathleen Sebelius, for instance. Or, as the late king of one-liners Henny Youngman would say: Take Kathleen Sebelius – please!
The newly resigned-but-still-serving secretary of Health and Human Services is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate in her home state of Kansas – shocking news considering that she is a wrapping up a term in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet that could only be described as a disaster. In fact, former U.S. House Speaker and current CNN Crossfire host Newt Gingrich used exactly that word in a recent op-ed savaging Sebelius’ stewardship of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Gingrich elaborated: “Sebelius ran her office in a secretive and extraordinarily partisan manner that frequently ignored, violated and changed the law at whim.” The law Sebelius ignored, violated and changed, of course, was the “Affordable Care Act,” the Obama-backed overhaul of the nation’s health care system that is derisively called “Obamacare” and might better be described as “Abominablecare.” As HHS secretary, Sebelius was responsible for implementing the health care law and making sure that millions of Americans bought insurance through the federal and state exchanges mandated by the legislation.
Even those living under a rock know the execution of the plan was a debacle from the start. And while the administration crowed like a rooster that it met its target – overseen by Sebelius – of signing up 7 million Americans for the new insurance plan by the end of March, polls clearly show that most Americans dislike the law and consider it an early failure.
The mangling of the attempt to provide mostly young and uninsured Americans with affordable health insurance is expected to be the number one bone of contention in the upcoming mid-term congressional elections. Democrats running for re-election are also running for cover, hoping to distance themselves from Obamacare in any way they can.
Sebelius, however, is apparently so oblivious to political reality that she believes she can and should be elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in a year when Republicans have legitimate hopes of defeating enough Democrats to capture control of the world’s greatest deliberative body.
Even the notion that she is considering the race shows just how out of touch the political class can be – and how their egos override any semblance of rationality.
It’s one thing to have your work labeled a disaster by a partisan firebrand such as Newt Gingrich, but Sebelius was accused of “gross incompetence” by Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts – a Republican but one the secretary had counted as a friend when she was a popular, twice-elected governor of Kansas. She surely knows she is no longer governor (she resigned in 2009 to join the Cabinet) but apparently doesn’t realize that her popularity crashed right along with the ill-fated Obamacare website she inflicted on the American people last October.
Roberts is up for re-election and, of course, his party likes to eat its young – just a figure of speech, folks; Roberts is 78 years old – so he will have a primary opponent: Milton Wolf, a radiologist backed by the tea party.
No offense to the tea party, but the best use of Wolf would be to ask him to X-ray Sebelius’ head.
Even though she was once popular at home, Sebelius would face a tough time getting elected under any circumstances since, as The New York Times reported, no Democrat has held a senate seat from Kansas since 1939. But then, politicians do crazy things when they get all wrapped up in their hubris and blind ambition.
One of the greatest journalists of our time was the late Richard Ben Cramer, a Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote What It Takes, a book widely considered the best ever written examining the motives and personalities of those who seek the presidency. His work shines light on all those who run for public office.
According to Amazon.com, Cramer’s book “penetrates the mystery at the heart of all presidential campaigns: How do presumably ordinary people acquire that mixture of ambition, stamina, and pure shamelessness that makes a true candidate?”
“Pure shamelessness” would seem to be an apt description of Sebelius’ senatorial ambitions, if you rule out abject stupidity. Anyone who watched her testify before Congress, stumbling and fumbling her way through pathetic attempts to answer questions about the failures of Obamacare, knows this was a person totally over her head and without the tools to lead.
One more quote from Gingrich:
“She had an opportunity to help lead the country in a constructive, open dialogue about health reform. Instead she defended the law, denied facts, dismissed legitimate questions and deceived the public. She tried to spin us on the life-and-death matter of our health care.”
Come to think of it, “shameless” barely describes her.
Richard Connor is CEO of the Business Press’ parent company, DRC Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.