So, the President just wrapped up his health care speech. How did it go? Well, despite his efforts to teach the GOP a thing or two, he likely wasted his breath on a group who can't comprehend his reforms.
Two main things to know: first, the President was not fooling around, particularly about the "death panel" rumors, which he described as "a lie, plain and simple." You go, Barack!
Of course, despite his tough talk, the GOP doesn't seem ready to concede. Rep. Joe Wilson, responding to Obama's claims that illegal immigrants aren't included in reforms, declared "You lie!" That's pretty rude, no? But we're not surprised by any of this.
Nothing particularly new was brought to the table tonight. The main aspect was, quite simply, an opportunity to explain away misconceptions, reiterate his plans, and bring the debate back to level ground. August brought us insane town hall outbursts and Republican hand-wringing over health care, and tough-talking Obama attempted to put that all to rest with this evening's appearance. But, alas, it may mean nothing.
Rather than focusing simply on the much maligned subject, Obama attempted — and succeeded — to fit health care into a bigger picture, like his administration's tireless recovery efforts. Of course, the American people aren't always good at visualizing, so the President had to tackle the largest misconceptions about reform, like that it's a socialist takeover.
In order to really drive home his point to two conflicting camps, progressives and Republicans, the President had to both make sure people knew that we, a nation, all have a stake in the matter — as he did by referring to the mess as a "collective failure" — and ensure business interests that the market place will remain top dog.
There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money.... If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek – especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions – just can't be achieved.
Those themes — the collective responsibility and the importance of the market place — were well-placed and oft-referenced in his speech, but it's likely the former will make the most right-wing heads spin. References to the market place and competition will be pushed aside as opponents focus on Obama's emphasis on the "everybody," especially considering his campaign-ready closing remarks:
But that's not what the moment calls for. That's not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it's hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history's test.
Those who were against his reforms likely weren't won over, and the Republicans, who sat sour-faced and stern, don't look like they're ready to sit down and work things out, despite the best efforts to make it all crystal clear. In addition to Wilson's "lie" remark, there were plenty of other times when the Republicans, who refused to clap and wore oppositional signs, let out audible "boos."
So, if we're going to play political psychic, tonight's speech will only further embolden the right's name-called, finger-wagging and general obstruction. But maybe they'll surprise us!