Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.Zing!
In numbing profusion, the newspapers are filled with litanies of screw-ups. ....
It's the president's prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D), though, that is his most mind-boggling failure. As was not the case in Iraq or with Katrina, it hasn't had to overcome the opposition of man or nature. Pharmacists are not resisting the program; seniors are not planting car bombs to impede it (not yet, anyway). But in what must be an unforeseen development, people are trying to get their medications covered under the program. Apparently, this is a contingency for which the administration was not prepared, as it has been singularly unable to get its own program up and running.
I think the prescription drug plan is going to be a political nightmare for Bush and the Republicans. Their incompetence in implementing the program has been staggering, but even if everything works according to plan, it'll still be a clusterfuck. Why? There's a complete lack of coverage for drug spending between $2,251 and $5,100 -- a "donut hole" in the complicated parlance of Washington -- which means that when (or if) all the angry seniors get their prescription plans in order, they'll almost immediately find themselves abandoned in the woods like Grandpa Simpson. ("I'm cold and hungry and there are wolves after me!")
And for those seniors spending $250 a month or more on prescription drugs, that means they're going to be thrown to those wolves right before the midterm elections. I'm not hanging out at my local phramacy much, but from anecdotal evidence, I think a lot of seniors are going to hit the donut hole before the election. As this piece on the Medicare disaster notes, a common treatment for osteoporosis costs a whopping $500-$600 a month alone. I think we could realistically see a hot summer full of senior disaster stories.
The most bizarre part of all this? Next week, in the State of the Union address, President Bush is going to make another health care initiative -- his asinine Health Savings Accounts -- the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. He's screwed up this small corner of the country's health care, and now he wants to bring his special destructive powers to the entire thing? Awesome.