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July 22, 2009


Gotta disagree. I thought this was easily Obama's best press conference so far. I came away feeling like I remembered what the whole point of doing health care reform was all about.

i'd be happy to be wrong

I'm actually with Publius on this one. It was just a little too professorial. Mind you, I'm not asking for Bushy talk-down-to-us-like-we're-idiots speak. But he seemed to abstract to me. This is a case where you really do need to demagogue, and he didn't do that. I know that's not his thing, but he needs to do it a little bit, IMO. Make it more human. Make it connect.

We'll see what the coverage looks like tomorrow.

Frankly, I was surprised he didn't get any direct questions about the CBO director's claim that this would increase costs rather than decrease them.

Oh, and what did people think about the reporter who stood up and pretended to be someone he wasn't?

" focus more on the human side",

I'm willing to concede that Obama may have been too "professorial." I happen to like professorial (or at least I don't equate being professorial with being boring), so maybe I just don't have my finger on the pulse of the public.

As I said in the other thread, Obama did much better on the Gates answer than in almost any "health care" answer. Why? Because, professorial or not, he gave that one in English, not Washington-speak.

Any sentence that contains the word "trillion" is Washington-speak. Maybe Peter Orszag has an intuitive feel for what "trillion" means, but most mere mortals do not. Even when Obama tried to give a human-scale number ("we Americans spend $6000 more for health care than anybody else") he more or less flubbed it. Quick: is that $6K per person or per household?

I'd give a gazillion dollars to see an American president talk, explicitly and exclusively, in per-household terms every time a budget number comes up in public. That would be professorial.


Charlie, I believe you meant to link to this; your link is broken, and goes to their entertainment front page.

Gary, you're right. Thanks.

"My hope tonight was that Obama would focus more on the human side"

That is precisely what he did. Were you even listening?

I'm starting to think that Obama recognizes that current health bills are a bunch of pigs and is looking for one to anoint with lipstick. I enjoyed his little rhetorical trick of describing the status quo as just another option for the future, making the obvious point that what we have now is totally unacceptable (unless you're a Republican, of course).

It's already more than clear that we're not going to get single-payer. Retention of the current employer-focused system is a necessity, because it enables millions of people to think (correctly, I'd wager) that they'll get to keep their current great health plan. (Is there a sarcasm icon?) More important, there's a public plan to which they can resort when their employer decides it's too damned expensive to keep paying for employees' health insurance and defaults to the eight percent (or whatever amount it turns out to be) tax (whoops; make that "assessment").

Subject to those constraints, I think Obama did make the case persuasively for a plan that will cover more people at a lower per capita cost. I fear that cost containment may suffer the death of a thousand cuts, but maybe enough of it can be saved. If not, I'm not sure anything should pass. To add another 40 million or so people to the rolls of the insured without cutting the per capita cost could actually be worse than the status quo for the nation as a whole (though probably an improvement for most of those 40 million).

Overall, I didn't see much in the presser that was inconsistent with a health plan that will do a lot of good. The issue isn't whether Obama knows what we need but whether he can deliver it. Still, it's reassuring to realize that he does grasp the issue well enough to convey to us what he'd like to do -- and that the direction in which he wants to head is a great improvement, if not the best possible one. Pray he succeeds.

What about Obama's assertion that Goldman Sachs's profits are to be welcomed because as a firm it has been successful in a free market system? I gave money to Obama, and I hope he achieves health care reform. But that is as Orwellian a statement any Bush ever made, and Obama has lost my trust for good.

I'm also interested to see if Obama actually does follow up on the transparency questions he was asked.

Seeing as some of these points were already hit on, I hope nobody minds if I re-post (from the last thread) my reasons for liking this presser:

He was incredibly magnanimous to the opposition, in crediting Republicans with, and praising them for, several aspects of the bill as currently drafted. He also praised particular Republicans for "engaging" the issue.*

He put in just enough illustrations of the hardships on being uninsured or underinsured to put a human face on this, leaving plenty of time to make a thorough case for how HRC will save the economy and the budget.

He struck, for me, exactly the right note on the TARP question** -- we pumped money into the financial sector to keep it from collapsing, and we succeeded; the banks and firms are making money again, and that's good, because they can lend again***; now that we've stepped back from the brink, it's time to get serious about regulation so this shit doesn't happen again!

He was direct (often brutally honest), wonky, and classy as fuck. Reminds me why I loved him.

*On both these counts, I imagine most of my fellow commenters here do not feel nearly so generous...

**Itself unexpected, as I thought this was a press conference on health care.

***(Would be nice if they actually were lending, but hey, now at least they have the capital available.)

"He was incredibly magnaminous to the opposition ..."

I noticed though that Obama didn't turn his back on them in case cracker Kossack Jim Demint and ilk tried to gang-rape him and his wife and daughters from behind.



(Would be nice if they actually were lending, but hey, now at least they have the capital available.)

Giving them "capital" without good results for household and small-business lending is, of course, exactly the problem.

Let's give my Uncle Morty some capital too. He might not lend it, but hey, at least he could.

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