Why the president was smart to apologize on Obamacare

ANALYSIS - Obama's saying 'I'm sorry' and using the word 'regret' twice in an interview with NBC"s Chuck Todd was the logical, smart political move...

He had to do it.

The realization that millions of Americans would have their health care plans canceled in part because of the Affordable Care Act, despite President Obama’s repeated assurances they would not, had become one of the biggest political problems in his five years in office. The president wasn’t just facing criticism from the Republicans who oppose him all the time, but from non-partisan analysts, Democrats in Congress and even people who voted for him 2008 and 2012.

And the mistake wasn’t just one of politics or policy, but one that threatened his credibility. Obama had not mislead the public as George W. Bush did about weapons of mass destruction or Bill Clinton with his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but was being accused of that kind of dishonesty now.

So Obama’s saying “I’m sorry” and using the word “regret” twice in an interview with NBC”s Chuck Todd was the logical, smart political move. He will at least briefly quiet some of the sharp criticism from people within his own party. And it will help Obama with restoring any permanent loss of credibility.

“And I think for the most part people know that I speak my mind and I tell folks what I think and I’ve been very clear about what I’m trying to do.  And I think most people know that– even if they disagree with me on certain issues– that I’m every day working hard to try to make life a little bit better for middle-class families who are– and folks who are trying to get in the middle class who are doing the right thing and being responsible,” Obama said.

Ultimately though, the solution is not about what Obama says, but what his government does. Some of the estimated 14 million Americans who get health insurance on the individual market, the people who are getting the notices about cancellations, will be able to stay on their current plans or ones that are very similar. Others could get lower prices through the exchanges set up by the law, while some will have to pay more.

But the big problem is many of them can’t research their health care costs and compare various plans, because HealthCare.gov, the website that residents of 36 states are supposed to use to shop for insurance, is still not functioning well. Until that website is fixed, very little the president says will affect how people view the Affordable Care Act.