Can Obama Learn from J.F. K.‘s Mistake?

23 November 2013 |permalink | email article

The greatest problem of Kennedy’s presidency was the Bay of Pigs invasion. No sooner had he taken the oath of office than he discovered that the Pentagon and the C.I. A. were preparing to sent 1,500 Cuban exiles to Cuba. The American military and C.I. A. assumed that once the attack began, the Cuban people would rise up and overthrow Fidel Castro. Kennedy was privately skeptical and didn’t yet have the judgement he was surrounded by.  The exiles were quickly routed, America was humiliated and Kennedy was left to take the blame. So far, at least, as New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has noted the implementation of the Affordable Car Act has been President Obama’s Bay of Pigs. Led to believe that the preparation for Obamacare was on track, Obama was blindsided when that turned out not to be the case.

There are two primary reasons Obamacare has gotten off to such a terrible start. The first is that it is one of the most complicated things the federal government has ever tried to do. It was inevitable that what there would be problems. that there would be problems. The second, as has been noted, is that entitlement programs have to coexist within the complicated “patchwork” of the American health care system. Soon after the Bay of Pigs Kennedy was confronted by the Cuban missile crisis. This time, Kennedy ignored the Pentagon generals, took a different path, defused the crisis and avoided a war with the Soviet Union. He learned from the Bay of Pigs disaster. As President Obama tries to turn Obamacare around, that is the looming question: Can he learn?

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