Free Markets, Free People

The Gathering Consensus About “The Speech” (Update)

I think The Hill best captures what I’ve been reading in the MSM, on-line and around the blogosphere today as the consensus about the effect of the Obama speech last night:

Still, while the speech once again illustrated the president’s extraordinary oratory skills, it was not a game changer and appears to leave the president with the same quandary: Healthcare has become the pinnacle legislative issue of his first term, but has divided his party in Congress and run into almost universal GOP opposition. Polls suggest Americans are not convinced reform will help their lives and it is unclear whether the legislation Obama seeks will reach his desk.

Obama was expected to take the wheel on healthcare reform after the Democratic-led Congress drove it into a ditch over the summer, but it did not appear he did so.

As he as done throughout 2009, Obama is largely deferring to lawmakers on the details. His address drew laughs from Republicans when he said some details still needed to be worked out.

A Democratic strategist said, “The speech was good, but not transforming,” adding the address “won’t move votes or change what [Obama] called unresolved issues.”

Or, ‘meh’ ….

Interesting that writers, Sam Youngman and Bob Cusak, both point out that Obama had been “expected to take the wheel”, i.e. assume leadership, but didn’t. No real surprise to me.

The Democratic strategist, of course, is pulling his or her punches. The speech, to be good, had to be “transforming”. It wasn’t. Therefore it wasn’t “good.” It was just number 28 in a long line of speeches with unconvincing rhetoric pushing the same stale and discredited programs.

Democrats are back to square one.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus gives one of the better and more trenchant summaries of the speech out there:

“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.” And if there’s any tactic less effective at wooing skeptics than number-fudging insincerity, it’s number-fudging insincerity coupled with attacks on the veracity, motivation, and worldview of the skeptics themselves.

And that is precisely the path Obama took last night.


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27 Responses to The Gathering Consensus About “The Speech” (Update)

  • But… but… Scott said –

    “I also think you’re going to be sorely disappointed when your predictions of Obama’s leadership failing are going to collapse. The speech is widely seen not only as a success, but just the opening shot in a PR the Obama team is very good at.”

  • Evil lying nazi a-hole americans are awaiting obama apology

  • “Obama’s Leadership” – soon to be recognized as a classic oxymoron, like “open secret” or “larger half”.

  • The Clown™ failed in this latest speech because 1) he made a fool of himself of calling out his opponents, instead of reaching out to them to try to broker an agreement, and 2) he once again made up things to make it look like his alleged “plan” did more than it did, or, with regard to illegal aliens or abortion, less than it did.

    The Clown™ failed. The polls might move slightly in his direction, but in the coming weeks, as this plan gets its hearing and becomes unpopular as the other plans did, and as the economy continues to sludge along and the deficit continues to explode, his unpopularity will continue to go down, down, down.

  • From all reports, it looks like a typical Obama speech – part scolding and part empty rhetoric, frequently simultaneously.

    His speeches lately bring to mind an image of a fussy old teacher, hands on hips and lips pursed, chastising her class for not doing their homework.

    This is supposed to convince me of something? Well, I suppose it does, just not what he intends.

  • Oh, I’m going to be laughing at you guys in a few months. Your wishful thinking has caused you to ignore political reality.

    Of course, if I’m wrong and you can somehow maintain the status quo, then you simply push off change as our current unsustainable system sees costs rising, more people losing insurance, more companies dropping it, and ultimately people will demand an even heavier government intrusion. If you “win” this one, you’ll get your worst possible outcome in a few years.

    You’re in a no-win situation — unless you decide to act with rationality and agree this is a problem and work towards compromises that can address this without falling into ideological BS. Ideologies are inherently vastly oversimplified and full of assumptions that do not hold in every context. That’s why ideological thinking is fundamentally irrational.

    • “you can somehow maintain the status quo”

      WE can maintain the status quo? WE?

      Get crackin boys, we’re in charge of maintaining the status quo now. And as such I would like to congratulate the bloggers and commenters here at Qando for our so far successful defense of the nation against the encroachment of our Marxist president and egislative branch.

      “then you simply push off change as our current unsustainable system sees costs rising, more people losing insurance, more companies dropping it, and ultimately people will demand an even heavier government intrusion. If you “win” this one, you’ll get your worst possible outcome in a few years.”

      These things you’re predicting, care to provide links as proof they are in fact occurring and worsening, or is this yet again more of your continuously empty and undocumented rhetoric?

      “That’s why ideological thinking is fundamentally irrational.”
      Except your ideological thinking, right? Oh wait, you’re describing your ideological thinking.
      My bad, carry on.

    • Scott, din’t be dumber than you have to be.

      One more time, for the less-than-bright (that would be you, Scott – I thought I’d better spell it out, since you are, judging by your comment, slow on the uptake) NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT KEEPING THE STATUS QUO.

      There have been several alternatives given, from R amendments to HR3200 (all shot down in committee – let’s hear it for “listening to all sides”!) to the outline given by the CEO of Whole Foods, but all we hear from the MSM is that no one is coming up with an alternative to the Big Gov solution. This contention is what we in the engineering refer to as “bullshit”. There are plenty of ideas we could use – but the only ones getting any consideration from the parasites in DC are those that increase government power.

      You want reform? Let’s do it – in a way that actually empowers individuals, not the government.

      • The alternative is the status quo. The GOP reforms aren’t serious. If this doesn’t pass, or the GOP doesn’t compromise on something that can pass, then you get the status quo. Watch and learn — you may end up learning that your insults really should be directed at yourself.

    • You’re in a no-win situation

      I agree. If the current health care reform bill dies on the Hill, we lose because the debate will probably die with it as Obama moves on to Cap and Trade and immigration. If the current health care reform bill passes as-is, we lose because it’s the equivalent of depressing the gas pedal as we approach a cliff. If it passes in a changed form we probably lose as well, since most of the worst parts of it will simply be added later, and there is no real attempt at true reform in it anyway.

      Depending on what happens, someone will be able to say “I told you so” within ten years or so. But the smug satisfaction won’t mean much to a nation dealing with an economy that has capsized.

      • Or perhaps people can start working together, put aside ideology, and deal with the country’s problems. Republicans have to recognize the Democrats have a majority so the GOP will have to compromise a bit more. Democrats will have to recognize that if they don’t give in on many points, the GOP won’t see it in their interest to cooperate. The country wants us to move past the irrational premises of ideology and ideological jihad to practical problem solving. Is it all the Republican’s fault? No. But the recent health care debate shows a GOP “dominated by cranks” as notes. But both sides need to start working together.

    • I’m going to be laughing at you guys in a few months.

      Considering we laugh at you every day, I guess it’s only fair.

    • Coming from the master of the ‘no win situation’, perhaps we should listen to Scott here….

      LOL! Not!

    • Oh, I’m going to be laughing at you guys in a few months


      You lose, because we’re laughing at you NOW

    • How very droll ERB, you talk about working out a compromise, but in fact, the democrats were never interested in that at all and completely ignored the five or so reforms pushed by republicans.

      I don’t know if Obama is stupid or mendacious, but you I know. You actually believe that somehow we will be better off and costs will go down with a big centralized government solution. The same government that has nearly bankrupted medicare and screwed up the VA hospital system.

      Well, PT Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every minute.

      • you talk about working out a compromise

        3 weeks ago Erb was saying:

        I think the Democratic party and Barack Obama need to cease their efforts to create bi-partisan health care reform, and instead use their majorities to pass their agenda

        Erb is playing all sides as usual in order to say he was right later on, no matter how it turns out.

    • Of course, if I’m wrong and you can somehow maintain the status quo, then you simply push off change as our current unsustainable system sees costs rising, more people losing insurance, more companies dropping it, and ultimately people will demand an even heavier government intrusion.

      They won’t have to demand more government intrusion. If more people lose insurance, and more companies drop health insurance benefits, what do you suppose the insurance companies will do? They need the premiums to pay the benefits, so they’ll have to do something to attract more premiums.

      Hmmmmmm….I wonder what would do the trick. Maybe something like lowering the premiums?

      But, but, but, but…won’t that mean they can’t pay as much in benefits? Perhaps. Or maybe they’ll cut their margins, as you claim companies always do when faced with higher taxes. If the insurance companies cut back on what they pay, what do you suppose doctors and hospitals will have to do?

      Frankly, the insurance companies can’t afford to have a large percentage of their premium payers drop off the rolls. And neither can doctors and hospitals afford it. So, they’ll all have to make some adjustment….on their own, without Uncle Sam beating it out of them.

    • “Oh, I’m going to be laughing at you guys in a few months.”

      Well, that would only be fair, since we have been laughing at you for a few years now.

  • What Plan? His speech did not present a plan but a wish list. Lack of detail was only the foremost lack in his soliloquy (sp). Calling out his detractors, virtually by name, established an us versus them scenario that destroys any bi-partisan attempt on anyone’s part. Any Republican who collaborates with this President will be castigated by the Party and will be on the unemployment line by the voters (the Maine twosome included).

    This speech was the result of Pelosi and Reid telling Obama they had the votes and Obama throwing the gauntlet down on his detractors. “Get on board or get steamrolled!” was the message, pure and simple.

    Only in this case it will be Obama and the Democrats who will be flattened!

  • OK, I’m going to make a Hitler comparison, so I need to be clear up front: I am not talking about the (many) evils of NAZIs, or fascism, or race-hatred or anything else derogatory in that kind of nuclear sense.

    I think Obama is sort of the anti-Jimmy Carter in leadership style, closer to Adolf Hitler in many ways. Carter, much like Clinton, wanted to be involved in the minutest details of policies, and both men were deeply involved in crafting the execution of their policies. Hitler was the polar opposite, the pure ideas guy. The actual implementations of policy were up to Hitler’s lieutenants in the NSDAP, to the point that when they came to Hitler to settle disagreements, he would refuse to decide, letting them argue things out to consensus. This was even true of some policy positions; the NAZIs were (in)famous before taking power in espousing every policy and its opposite, anything to get one more vote and damned be the inconsistencies created in the process. As a result, there were a lot of unresolved policy issues when Hitler assumed the chancellorship, but instead of trying to craft coherent policy, Hitler brought out the ideas he thought were critical, and let others work out a (somewhat) consistent set of policies over time. Hitler didn’t become particularly dictatorial, as far as I have seen evidence, until after the Stauffenberg plot that almost killed him.

    In any case, the point I was driving at is that Obama seems to be like Hitler in that sense: he wants to be the big ideas guy. The little ideas and the implementation he cares not a bit about, and so delegates them to the various “czars,” cabinet secretaries, legislators, Democrat support organizations (ACORN, Media Matters, HuffPo, SPLC and the like). When their implementations clash with the big idea, he proclaims the big idea without fixing the implementation (in that he is unlike Hitler, who was ruthless about fixing the implementation to comply with the big ideas that were important to him). Since the idea is right, it seems, Obama will accept any model of implementation claimed by people he sees as fellow ideologues regardless of whether those would actually implement or clash with his big ideas. I think that he just sees that kind of thing as being beneath him.

    I could even see how that style of leadership would work, and in fact I think it would be appropriate to a head of state who was not also head of government. But we don’t have kings or emperors here, and I suspect that Obama’s style of “leadership” is going to be not only sorely tested, but broken, over the next few years. It will certainly be interesting to see if Obama can adapt to that reality as it unfolds, or if he’ll get swallowed up by ignoring the details like Carter did by ignoring the big picture.

    • That style of leadership would indeed work well for the leader of a government constrained in what it could do. With our current leviathan, it could be disastrous.

    • I suggest that TAO is simply lazy, inept, and more intent on enjoying the perqs of his office (especially the limelight) than actually DOING THE JOB.

    • There’s more truth in this than you might realize. Check out Strauss & Howe (and more recently Xenakis) and their works on Generational Dynamics. If they’re right, it means Obama’s bold incompetency coupled with economic weakness will usher in the next civil collapse and all-out war. /shudder

      • According to Strauss and Howe, we are destined to enter this crisis. So don’t blame Obama. It’s no one’s fault.

  • It pretty obvious from reading Brooks today that you needed a scorecard to register the nuance deeply embedded in the speech.
    I wonder if anybody in DC knows how to speak in simple straight forward sentences. Not one of the news networks had a “nuance analyst” on their staffs to give us the “real scoop” in real time.