THE BLOG
10/03/2013 04:22 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Obamacare's Arrival -- and John Boehner's Departure

The only news yesterday, today and probably tomorrow about the ongoing shutdown of the federal government concerns the polarization of positions by the warring parties. And there is little of significance to report.

But two other developing news stories -- related to the shutdown -- provide material that could, and should, grab the attention of the press and the public. Obamacare has made a noisy arrival, while Speaker John Boehner may be facing a somewhat quieter departure.

On Tuesday, health insurance exchanges opened nationwide as the Affordable Care Act --better known now, and forever, as Obamacare -- moved further along toward full enactment. The enrollment period for signing up is from October 1 through March 31 of next year, with the various plans going into effect January 1, 2014.

The opening day for the exchanges was marked by countless glitches, and the media provided lots of examples of the problems incurred. Those Republicans who opposed passage of the Affordable Care Act, and then sought to repeal it or at least defund some provisions of it, were euphoric over the first-day difficulties.

But Tuesday's bad news may, in reality, be good news for the president's signature piece of legislation. Republican glee may be short-lived -- and replaced by their worst nightmare -- as the public will try it and come to like it.

Most of the difficulties have been attributed to "connectivity issues" caused in large part by the massive amount of first-day traffic, millions more than expected. There can be no denying now that there is great interest in the program.

And there is a certain irony in that greater-than-expected interest, for those Republicans who shut down the government over Obamacare actually gave it much-needed promotion. Those Republicans may have provided the impetus to make Obamacare as permanent as Social Security and Medicare.

Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner faces a legacy-defining political decision that could result in his giving up, or losing, his speakership.

If he stays with the presently-stated Republican position that the federal government will remain shut down until the president acquiesces to ever-changing GOP demands, he loses more respect with the moderates in his party, as well as with many members of the media and much of the American electorate. He will be labeled as a weak Speaker who contributed to the ineptness of what is frequently being called the worst Congress in American history. He may be politically wounded beyond recovery.

If John Boehner thinks of America first, his party second, and that trouble-making, obstructionist right wing not at all, he will meet with Nancy Pelosi and bring together her Democrats with his more-sensible Republicans (of which there are more than enough) to pass a clean Continuing Resolution that will end the stalemate and bring the full government back to life.

Such a move would surely incur the wrath of the Senator Cruz-inspired right wingers in the House, and he could well lose his speakership. But John Boehner could then walk away from that treasured position a proud man. He would have earned the respect he doesn't have now.

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