President Barack Obama has finally fessed up, albeit rather clumsily, to two painfully obvious facts: His administration royally bungled implementation of the nation's new health care law and that he misled the public about being allowed to keep insurance plans they liked.
Those are no small admissions for a president who has had repeated difficulty accepting the buck-stops-here nature of the office he holds.
The poster child for botched implementation, thus far anyway, is the new website -- HealthCare.gov -- that was supposed to allow people to sign up for insurance beginning Oct. 1. It has been a profound failure.
In a speech Thursday in which he tried to quell the firestorm that has erupted, Obama promised the website would be running "smoothly" by Nov. 30. Pardon us if we remain skeptical.
In that same speech, Obama chose to employ one of his favorite lines of defense, ignorance of the situation.
"I was not informed directly that the website wasn't working the way it was supposed to," he said.
That prompts at least two critical questions: 1. Why the heck not? It would seem that a much-ballyhooed launch of a major portion of what is supposed to be an administration's single biggest accomplishment might require a status discussion or two even by the most detached of chief executives. 2. What is the president going to do about it? If it is true that Obama was not informed about the impending disaster, the senior staff who chose not to inform him should be fired immediately, either for incompetence in not knowing themselves or for not communicating properly with the boss.
The second implementation disaster has been the massive cancellation of policies that Americans were led to believe -- repeatedly and by the president himself -- that they would be allowed to keep.
The backlash has been enormous. That is especially true for congressional Democrats, many of whom face re-election next year and are feeling the sting. There is already movement in Congress trying to override the cancellations. Once that door is opened again, it calls into question whether the health care plan will be fully implemented at all.
Without congressional action, all Obama can do is tinker on the margins, as he did Thursday when he announced that he had made an administrative change allowing insurers to continue offering individual insurance plans for another year even if they do not comply with the law's rules for minimum benefits.
Even he admits that it is little more than a Band-Aid.
The president said that two fumbles don't mean the game is over. True enough, but the outcome of many games has hinged on two fumbles at critical junctures. If Obama wants to save this program, he must, before all else, demand accountability for proper implementation from his own administration.