The main thing wrong with calling Obamacare a train wreck that it suggests the Affordable Care Act—an enormously complicated law that's been implemented piecemeal over a period of years and modified many times already—is instead a one-time unalterable event. And it's just not.
That's not how Republicans see the law, of course. They see it as both fixed and unfixable. According to CNN/ORC polling released Wednesday, the majority of Americans think the new health insurance law's problems will eventually be solved—but only 27 percent of Republicans hold that view.
Republican elected officials have seen the Affordable Care Act as essentially unfixable—that's why House Republicans voted 46 times to repeal or delay the implementation of the law, instead of working with the White House over the past three years to identify and solve problems within it of the sort that tend to accumulate in any such massive piece of legislation. As much blame as can be laid at the feet of the White House for not getting out in front of such forseeable problems as cancelled policies in the individual market, the same blame can be laid at the feet of congressional Republican opponents of the law who did not propose a specific fix for the issue long ago, preferring to instead to grandstand on the law as a whole.
But in hewing to the position that the law is unfixable, Republicans have instead made it harder to fix any problems embedded within it.
Perhaps a better train-related metaphor, should we need one, would be that the administration wound up in the embarrassing position of a person who was running late, made a frantic dash for a train, and then ran up to the gates just as entry was shuttered, forcing it to rejigger plans around the next available train.
The administration knew it was pushing it with its October 1 deadlines, and it knew it was working with a tight deadline. But instead of saying there's no way to make it, it effectively gambled on grabbing a cab and hoping for the best. Sometimes that kind of an approach actually works—you hit all the green lights, the cabbie knows the best route, there are no unexpected street repairs or parades tying up traffic. And sometimes it just doesn't, and what should have been 15-minute trip takes 40 minutes. Everything that can go wrong does.
That's partly what happened with the Heathcare.gov rollout. But missing a train is an entirely different order of problem from being caught in a wreck on the tracks. What happens when you miss a train is you apologize to whoever you had to meet with, reschedule, and then get on the next train.
That's what the administration is trying to do here.