Joe Biden hides from Obamacare crisis

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The president is facing his worst crisis of his five-year tenure. So where is the first mate of the Obama administration, good ol’ Joe Biden?

The vice president is in Houston, Texas, and he’s flying to Panama Nov. 20, far away from the crisis, from the president and from media questions about Obamacare.

He was home in Delaware on Nov. 17 after spending the previous three days in a New York, North Carolina and Georgia. On Nov. 13, he joined President Barack Obama for a closed-door White House meeting with advocates of greater immigration.

He met with military commanders on Nov. 12, spent the weekend of Nov. 11 and 10 at home in Delaware, and met with veterans Nov. 9. He stumped for Terry McAuliffe Nov. 4, in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, warning voters that the GOP candidate was “extreme.”

He’s running for president in 2016, but running away from Obamacare in 2014.

The crisis is so bad that on Nov. 14, President Barack Obama defended himself by denying that he was stupid.

“I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work,” told a roomful of TV cameras and reporters.

That’s a real political crisis. But that day, Biden was 600 miles from Obama’s podium.

He was in Atlanta, Ga., trying to flatter a roomful of foreigners who had just earned or won one of life’s greatest prizes, American citizenship.

“Thank you for choosing us – thank you for concluding America was worthy of your aspirations,” he told the group of immigrants from 50 impoverished, autocratic or backward countries, according to a White House blog entry.

“The truth of the matter is you’ve been Americans for a long time, long before you raised your right hand today, because you’ve all adhered to the idea of America,” Biden said, rhetorically inviting everyone on the planet to come and live alongside 300 million Americans.

Having accomplished that outreach to new voters, Biden then flew off to N.C. for Nov. 15 fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, leaving him 400 miles from Obama’s side.

“The only way to break through this gridlock is with people who can earn the trust of people on the other team, that’s why she’s so valuable,” Biden declared, according to the pool report.

But the report also noted that Biden declined to defend, praise or even acknowledge the existence of Obamacare.

“Neither Hagan nor Biden mentioned the Affordable Care Act nor the problems with healthcare.gov,” said the pool report.

Biden did join Obama for a Nov. 6 meeting with 15 Democratic Senators who are up for election in 2014. But that was a closed-door meeting intended to calm increasingly agitated Democrats, not a public defense of the unpopular program.

That meeting came one day after he called three Democratic town councillors in Iowa for their election victories.

Biden was caught by one reporter two weeks ago, on Oct. 30, and semi-apologized for the failure of the Obamacare network’s website.

“We assumed that it was up and ready to run, but the good news is that although it’s not, and we apologize for that, we’re confident that by the end of November it will be and there will still be plenty of time for people to register to get online,” a subdued Biden told HLN TV.

“Neither he or I are technology geeks and we assumed it was up and ready to run… I don’t know the technical reasons,” he said.

“That’s why I became a lawyer,” he said.

Before October, however, Biden was an enthusiastic supporter of the federal network.

“Here’s how it’s going to work,” Biden gushed in a Sept. 29 op-ed for the Des Moines Register and other newspapers.

“Starting Tuesday, you can go to HealthCare.gov, where you’ll be able to comparison shop for health insurance plans. It’s simple… Pick the option that works best for you, sign up, and you’re done,” he wrote.

“It used to be that buying insurance was a nightmare… After Tuesday, it’ll never be that way again,” he declared.

“We fought to bring affordable health care to all Americans, and because of the president’s insistence — and persistence — we are delivering,” Biden announced.

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Neil Munro