I guess we’ll have to start the morning off with talking about Obama’s healthcare speech. It was nice and firm, but you’ll excuse me if I’m one of many who thinks the time for speeches is over and the time for twisting arms must begin. Still, it was a good speech and will probably be remembered for the idiot Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) who called the President a liar.
So classy, though I quite like the idea of British-style political heckling being added to American politics.
Could you imagine if the Democrats had the gall to do that to Bush and Cheney? It’d be a whole lot of liar. Anyway, the funny thing about it was that Wilson called the president a liar, but during that portion of the speech he was essentially being truthful that illegal immigrants won’t receive healthcare.
Anyway a roundup of reactions from across the web. Andrew Sullivan:
A masterful speech, somehow a blend of governance and also campaigning. He has Clinton’s mastery of policy detail with Bush’s under-rated ability to give a great speech. But above all, it is a reprise of the core reason for his candidacy and presidency: to get past the abstractions of ideology and the easy scorn of the cable circus and the cynicism that has thereby infected this country’s ability to tackle pressing problems. This was why he was elected, and we should not be swayed by the old Washington and the old ideologies and the old politics. He stands at the center urging a small shift to more government because the times demand it.And he makes sense. And this was not a cautious speech; it was a reasoned but courageous speech. He has put his presidency on the line for this. And that is a hard thing to do.
This was not a home-run kind of speech; he was trying to leg this one out, and say a lot of different things to satisfy a lot of different constituencies. But I think it was a stand-up triple.
I know we’re way past the point of no return on this, but it’s still maddening that we insist on discussing a debate about health care in the language of health insurance. If you have a pre-existing condition, whatever else the mechanism by which your care is funded might be, it is not insurance. Also annoying: The suggestion that people who get sick without coverage are “imposing” their costs on us because we have made a collective decision to provide care for them.
[T]he line every pundit will talk about is the GOP congressman — reportedly Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) — who yelled “lie” during the first part of the president’s speech. It was so astoundingly rude that it’s almost certain to backfire and will give the president a few extra approval points among the American public.
Obama says he doesn’t want to demonize insurance companies–he just wants to hold them accountable. This is the best line of the night.
Personally, I sort of liked Rep Joe Wilson’s idea of introducing British-style heckling to the halls of congress; totally disrespectful and out of step with American tradition, true, but their tradition is better. Unfortunately, Wilson was also lying about the point at issue and will thereby set back the cause of heckling by decades.
Obama needed to do the precise opposite of what he’s best at. He needed to bring health-care reform down to earth rather than launch it into orbit. He needed to make it seem less dramatic and unknown. He needed to cast it not as change, but as improvement. All of which he did.
Kristol denies there is a healthcare crisis:
The real “public option” is to scrap the current grandiose plans and to start over. There is no health care crisis, and doing no harm is far preferable to doing real damage to a good health care system.
I think Obama may have resumed a certain command over the debate. Because the contrast between him and the hucksters to whom the Republicans have ceded this debate, and the difference between the actual details of reform and whatever it is everyone has been talking about through August, is simply very difficult to ignore.