He seems to enjoy presenting himself as an out-of-the-loop neophyte and describes his job as “an adventure.” According to the Times, Cohen appears to be unfamiliar with the operational details of the exchanges, the websites for which were supposed to be up and ready to go today, but which are showing error messages to most people who try to access them.
Cohen seems startlingly clueless – whether by design or because he is innately confused, it’s not clear.
Chiding those who wish to draw lessons from the past, Cohen cites Santayana, but inverts his famous “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” “Those who remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” Cohen misquotes.
“Institutional knowledge is coin of the realm around here, and since I have none, it is natural that I should be somewhat impatient with it,” Cohen says. It’s as if the head of NASA were to say, “Aerospace knowledge is coin of the realm around here, and since I have none, it is natural that I should be somewhat impatient with it.” Without “institutional knowledge” which, I suppose, means knowledge about how institutions operate, how does Cohen expect to run 30 health care marketplaces?
A final testament to Cohen’s cluelessness is a remark he made once, after touring some Civil War battlefields in Virginia. He wondered why Robert E. Lee was venerated and asked, “Why wasn’t Lee taken out and shot as a traitor?”
He went to Fieldston (which won’t mean anything if you’re not from New York City or if you didn’t go to Columbia where, as a Freshman you were overwhelmed and a bit cowed by the brilliance of the kids who’d come out of Fieldston, Stuyvesant and Bronx Science), then Brown, and got a law degree from Stanford. So, what is his problem?
The more important question is, how did this blowhard get the job of overseeing and coordinating the complex matrix of health care exchanges? It was a political appointment, of course. But a more appropriate post for him would have been Ambassador to Byelorussia.