I’m worried about Obama’s speech tonight.
I’m worried that he’s going to listen to the pre-speech pontificating I’ve been hearing and go all hyper-specific about the kind of healthcare reform he wants. He’s been pretty quiet on this score and that hasn’t worked, this line of reasoning goes. Time to give the American people the 4-1-1.
I think this approach would be a mistake.
I think a litany of details on public options, Medicare expansion, and healthcare co-ops would lead to a slow death by boredom in living rooms (and newsrooms) across America. Instead President Obama needs to be a cardiologist, not a neurologist: he needs to address the heart, not the head.
I want a full-throated, emotional outpouring from the president as to why healthcare reform is a moral issue. And I’m not an emotional gal. “Just the facts, ma’am.” That’s me. But in this case, we need the president to fire us up, not bog us down with minutiae.
Here we go.
8:06 — First lady, guests arrive. I wonder if there will be a “Skutnik Row” of “ordinary Americans”, like they have at state of the union? In this case, I hope so.
8:11 – As the president arrives, PBS is providing a thoughtful analysis of what it means if certain senators applaud. Or not.
8:17 — I like the beginning so far. The tone is combative. Good start.
8:20 — Nice! The badass Obama showed up! “But we did not come here just to clean up crises. We came to build a future. … I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”
8:23 — The President makes the controversial move of acknowledging that there are, like, other countries and stuff. “More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day. … We are the only advanced democracy on Earth – the only wealthy nation – that allows such hardships for millions of its people.”
8:25 — “I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch.” That one gets the first (and maybe only) bilateral standing O from the hall.
8:30 – “Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action.” Please be true please be true please be true …
8:31 — “The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals: It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. ” Sounds like a plan to me!
8:32 — “As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most.” What I can’t believe is that this isn’t against the law now.
8:37 – The president calls the death panel charge, “a lie pure and simple” and GOP ain’t standing. Wow.
8:39 – Whoa! One congressman shouts out “LIE!” when the president says the plan won’t cover illegal immigrants. Is this a town hall meeting all of a sudden?
8:45 — A Ha! We have a public option sighting. “Some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring.
“But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.” (Sorry for the bold italics, but I love it when someone finally calls attention to the fact that right now insurance bureaucrats stand between you and your doctor, and no one seems so incensed about that.)
8: 46 — State schools get a shout out from Obama! Nice analogy, sir! “It would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.”
8:47 — Obama throws some red meat to the base. Yummy! “Part of the reason I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for – from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy. I will not make that same mistake with health care.”
8:50 — Republicans asses are nailed to their seats. They’re not even standing for reforms to Medicare that will help seniors pay for catastrophic perscription drug costs. Aren’t they worried? I’m sorry, but I feel this speech is going over very well. I wonder how they are going to spin this on Fox.
8:53 — FINALLY! “But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.”
8:55 — I was worried at the beginning of the speech that the president would not bring the emotion. I needn’t have worried. You can hear a pin drop in the chamber, Nancy Pelosi is crying, as the president recalls the late Teddy Kennedy:
“He never forgot the sheer terror and helplessness that any parent feels when a child is badly sick; and he was able to imagine what it must be like for those without insurance; what it would be like to have to say to a wife or a child or an aging parent – there is something that could make you better, but I just can’t afford it.
“That large-heartedness – that concern and regard for the plight of others – is not a partisan feeling. It is not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character. Our ability to stand in other people’s shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand. A belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgement that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.”
Can I get an amen!
Better yet, can I get a healthcare reform bill?