If Kathleen Sebelius was ousted from her post as HHS Secretary or is departing under a cloud of presidential opprobrium, you wouldn’t have known it from today’s Rose Garden ceremony in which President Obama amped up the praise to soaring heights while announcing Sebelius’s departure and his choice to succeed her, Sylvia Burwell.
And really, it’s no surprise. Because make no mistake about it. Obama may or may not have mixed feelings about Sebelius. But her legacy is his legacy. Ultimately, he’s in charge. And whatever screw ups that have occurred – and they’ve been massive – the buck stops with him, and to be restrained in his praise of her would be to question his own leadership.
“I will miss her advice, I will miss her friendship, and I will miss her wit,” Obama said to an enthusiastic crowd of administration officials, terming her or her service “extraordinary” several times.
From his remarks:
Yes, we lost the first quarter of open enrollment period with the problems with Healthcare.gov, and they were problems. But,under Kathleen’s leadership, her team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself: There are seven and a half million people across the country that have the security of health insurance, most of them for the very first time, and that’s because of the women standing next to me here today, and we are proud of her for that – that’s an historic accomplishment . . .
All told, Kathleen’s work over these five years will benefit our families and this country for decades to come.
Sebelius herself made no apologies for the botched Obamacare rollout – she didn’t even mention it – instead focusing on the significance of the Affordable Care Act, which she called, “the most significant social change in this country” in 50 years, since Medicare was established.
After some perfunctory remarks by Burwell, Obama wrapped things up with a call to cheer Sebelius on her way.
“Give this extraordinary woman one more big round of applause,” he commanded.
And they did.