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.