Roundup of notable reactions to the Healthcare Speech -- and stop defending the indefensible!
General consensus? Big win for the Big O. The quick-pulse CNN poll agreed: Before the speech, viewers were 53% in favor of Obama's healthcare plans (whatever they happened to be!) and 36% opposed; post-speech, 67% were in favor and 29% opposed. Most importantly, 72% said the president "clearly stated" his healthcare goals (even if he was a bit fuzzy on how to get there!). This speech was never going to be a fine-line blueprint anyway, or even a way of convincing Republicans, whom I'm convinced will vote against ANY bill across the board. It was all about rebuilding confidence in Obama's willingness to act swiftly and decisively and his ability to move the dialogue forward, and on that front, it succeeded as well as he could have hoped. Of course, the ugly Right (I feel like I have to insert the negative qualifier in there, but sadly it's getting less and less necessary as the fringe of the GOP becomes its core) thinks differently, but as people seem to have forgotten in this process...they are very much in the minority. The vast bulk of America across all political persuasions is demanding real change, even if they differ on how; but the ones who voted for Obama are, I think, more willing to let him define the "how" after this speech.Oh, one more thing: There are some things that are indefensible, and Rep. Joe Wilson's ridiculous and entirely disrespectful outburst was one of them. So right-wing bloggers: STOP DEFENDING HIM. Even he has apologized already. Of course, a lot of you also were defending the rights of protesters to bring assault rifles to healthcare rallies where the president was speaking, so clearly your cap for what's "defensible" is lying in the road somewhere, in the dust of your gas-guzzling Confederate flag-emblazoned pickups. Reaction roundup:
- 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."
- Ezra Klein: "In this speech, in fact, 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."
- Jonathan Cohn: "On the policy front, President Obama tonight endorses, clearly and unambiguously, a requirement that everybody obtain insurance -- that is, an individual mandate. He has not done that before, not this explicitly... The tone is pretty striking, too. Obama reaches out to Republicans in several places. But he also comes down hard--very hard--on opponents who are merely out to defeat reform."
- Chris Cilliza: "For those -- particularly on the liberal left -- who criticized the president for not being aggressive enough in responding to the misinformation being peddled about the plan, this speech was for you... The simple fact is for health care reform to pass, the White House needs a fired up liberal base to pressure lawmakers to vote for it. The confrontational elements of this speech -- and there were many -- were designed to get the base excited again and ready them for the final fight to come."
- Nate Silver: "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."
- APAs for Progress: "The President spoke to me when he talked about our shared values. These define us and should define our public policy, whether it be health care, immigration, or any other issue. And at the same time that the President talked about reflecting the American spirit in our health reform, he invited all of us to help him shape the future of our country. Sure, our families came here seeking what America already was, but it's our turn to shape what America will be in the future."