by Patrick Appel
A few reactions to last night's press conference. DiA:
Selling the country on the details of a health-care plan is tricky. Selling the country on something Barack Obama wants is less tricky. So Mr Obama has allowed Congress to fight over the details of a health-care package while he makes himself the spokesman for some sort of reform. He's tried to bring wavering Democrats on board, reportedly by telling them that a "no" vote would "destroy" his presidency. The narrative of his presidency is driving the timeline here. It is very much about him.
He made a strong case for a public option as a way to keep the insurance companies honest and noted that some insurers were making record profits while raising premiums at a time "when most Americans are getting hammered." But he didn't insist that the public option had to be part of the plan, just that he thought it was a good idea.
I'm curious to hear what other people thought, but this really struck me as nowhere near his usual performance. Obama avoided giving direct answers, rambled a lot, kept interrupting himself with asides, and didn't explain things in terms that ordinary viewers were likely to understand. He's supposed to be the communicator-in-chief, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people came away more confused than they were when they tuned in. Bottom line: There were bits and pieces that were fine, but overall I'd give it a C-.