As sick and tired as I am of the Ubiquitous Presidency, I’ll be watching tonight with avid interest. The Speech is being billed as a make or break moment. I’m going to predict break because the problem isn’t with the salesman but with the product on offer.
Even if the Warren Buffet-befriending, Paul Volcker listening to, consummate moderate Obama shows up tonight, the public will remain wary. Rhetorical skills don’t matter that much at this point. Both Charlotte Allen (see below) and I think that Mickey Kaus nailed it. So I am going to refer to a thought from Mickey that Charlotte has also jumped on this morning: “Obama doesn’t need to get Republicans on board. He doesn’t need to get Blue Dog Democrats on board. He needs to get voters on board.”
Scroll down to The Other Charlotte for more from Kaus.
Okay, this may sound like good news to those of us who oppose Obamacare. But don’t get your hopes up prematurely: our president wants this, wants it badly, and regards it as his historic hopeychange, and he will push for it for three and a half more years, if he doesn’t get it this year. He believes in this, even if he hasn’t read the specifics of the proposed legislation. This battle is not over, though if Obamacare eventually can be defeated, the door will be open to real reform. Eventually is the operative word.
There are some interesting pre-speech pieces worthy of your attention:
Citing Jimmy Carter’s belief that a crisis could give the executive branch an opportunity to lead the country, Michael Gerson notes:
And so Barack Obama’s address to Congress on health care, at a minimum, must answer the question: What is the crisis? When individuals can’t get needed health care, it is certainly a crisis for them. This, Obama might argue, creates moral responsibilities for the rest of us to help. But this would argue for a more incremental approach, adding coverage for the working poor instead of remaking the American health system for everyone.
The overwhelming majority of Americans, by the definition of denied care, do not face a health-care crisis. Most polls show that about 80 percent are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their health plans. Those in the greatest need are often the most satisfied — 90 percent of insured Americans who suffered serious illnesses are satisfied with their health care. According to a study published by the Cato Institute, a very small percentage — even of the uninsured — are “dissatisfied or highly dissatisfied” with the health care they get in other ways. On health care, the American public brims with satisfaction — though most are concerned about rising costs.
Gerson recalls that Carter’s energy-crisis speech to Congress was effective—temporarily.
On Real Clear Politics, Mike Memoli has some fun watching tips, but also points out that the president has two opposing Democratic camps, the public option camp and those who favor a trigger option (i.e., slower public option). Memoli writes:
Obama could firmly come down within one of those camps in his party, and hope he still has enough sway to convince the other to come for the ride. But more than that, look for the president to, in a manner of speaking, vote present – maintain he still supports the idea of a public option, while urging both Democrats and Republicans not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and make it clear that other components of reform must not be held hostage in the process.