Back when he was in Harvard Law School, people said that Barack Obama could give a speech that had opponents believing he sided with them both — even though that clearly wasn’t possible.
The State of the Union address last week turns out, then, to be vintage Obamaspeak. The Economist insists the President declared unwavering devotion to health-care reform. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan says the President quietly laid the health-care bill to rest and was moving on. Both accounts, however, agree that the President pretty much buried the health care section of the speech.
Here the Economist’s assessment:
BEING a president and not a journalist, Barack Obama buried the lead. But for all his talk about creating jobs and taming the deficit, the big news in his state-of-the-union speech on Capitol Hill this week was that despite the Democrats’ recent stunning loss of Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts seat—and with it their supermajority in the Senate—the president intends to press ahead with health-insurance reform. The only thing he could not say was how he intends to do it.
And now for Peggy Noonan:
The president did not speak of health care until a half hour in. “As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed.” Then, “If anyone has a better idea, let me know.” Those bland little sentences hidden in plain sight heralded an epic fact: The battle over the president's health-care plan is over, and the plan will not be imposed on the country. Waxing boring on the virtues of the bill was a rhetorical way to obscure the fact that it is dead. To say, “I'm licked and it's done” would have been damagingly memorable. Instead he blithely vowed to move forward, and moved on. The bill will now get lost in the mists and disappear. It is a collapsed soufflé in an unused kitchen in the back of an empty house. Now and then the president will speak of it to rouse his base and remind them of his efforts.
What do you think the President said? Here’s a link to the speech.