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Drudge editor report pillories Sebelius' legacy

U.S. President Barack Obama escorts Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (C) and Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell away after Rose Garden ceremony.
U.S. President Barack Obama escorts Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (C) and Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell away after Rose Garden ceremony.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Joseph Curl, an editor of the Drudge Report mocked Kathleen Sebelius, claiming she went out of office the way she came into it, "winging it." In his Washington Times opinion piece on Sunday, Curl pointed out that as Sebelius stood by President Obama to make her farewell speech, the Secretary of Health and Human Services explained she was "missing a page" of her prepared remarks.

According to Curl, it was ironic that on her way out the door, Sebelius fumbled through her pages, finally forced to stop mid-speech to admit she was lost because a page was gone. "What a perfect summation of her entire time in the administration," derided Curl. Sebelius "was in over her head from the very beginning, and she’ll go down in history as the chief of perhaps the greatest policy debacle in U.S. history, the rollout of Obamacare," he added.

The Drudge editor followed a long list of reports from major news networks including ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News, and NBC which noted her blunder as well. Echoing the Drudge editor, the NBC report described Sebelius' lapse as "One last glitch for the road," and the leading ABC headline about the Rose Garden ceremony was, "One Last Glitch for Kathleen Sebelius: 'A page Is missing'." While the Fox News headline read, "Sebelius botches farewell speech," the New York Post headline was harsher, "Sebelius even bungles her farewell speech."

The New York Times omitted any reference to the break in Sebelius' speech but focused instead on how warmly her speech was regarded by the audience, noting that she received several ovations. One week after enrollment for health insurance ended, following the announcement that 7.1 million people had signed up, Sebelius' resignation was official. Obama was flanked by the outgoing secretary and the lady he hopes the Senate will confirm to take her place, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Burwell's nomination was the focus of the New York Times piece.

During the Rose Garden ceremony, the president praised Sebelius, predicting she "would go down in history," for her service. Curl had no praise for Sebelius, instead he ticked off a list of things he felt indicated profound incompetence during the time she served.

Sebelius "was a disaster from the start," declared Curl, and then he elaborated markers he considered her failings, almost all covered at one time or another on the Drudge Report. Curl pointed out that like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sebelius came in with a tax bill of $8,000 she had to clear up, caused by padded deductions on the sale of her home, charitable and business deductions.

Also at question, for Curl, was why such vague and wide powers were relegated to her sole discretion as secretary, written into the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By Curl's estimate, within the 2,500 page bill, references to the "HHS secretary" topped 2,600 and many hundreds of those indicated that the secretary "shall," "may" or that there were issues which would be relegated to her sole determination. In his opinion, there was no excuse for the disastrous debut of Obamacare when the secretary had such vast power and four years to wield it before the website opened. (A searchable version of ACA is available.)

Many Republicans have vowed Obamacare will be a top midterm elections issue, Sebelius resignation or not. Some Democrats have expressed their hopes putting a new face at the helm may help Senate Democrats facing tough battles for re-election in conservative states this fall.

However, Forbes posited that there will be a backlash to Sebelius' departure when her replacement comes up before the Senate for confirmation because Burwell will stand before them as Obama's first and only nominee for for what has been called Obamacare's "death panel," the Independent Payment Advisory Board. In their opinion, President Obama may have served Democrats better by keeping Sebelius in place until after the election rather than hand Republicans such a volatile weapon to wield against vunerable Democrats.

Wednesday is National Healthcare Decisions Day, a controversial nationwide initiative to encourage individuals to voluntarily express their end of life health care wishes, and for providers, family and friends to follow them. Thus far, there is no mention of this initiative on the Drudge Report; Obamacare is as of this publication, however temporarily, completely off the Drudge Report radar.

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