Did It Work?

By Matthew Cooper

Did the speech work? Did it reset the debate? I don't know and I don't think we'll know for awhile. But I thought it missed a few things that might have made it better:

Hope. There wasn't a vision of a world where you don't have to wrestle with your insurer to get reimbursed, where you can leave your job without losing your insurance, where you can get it. There was a lot of reassurance but I thought the hope element was undersold.

It Won't Cost You a Dime. Can it be true that the plan preserves everything people like in the current system, fixes what's wrong and adds nothing to the deficit? People smarter than me say it's possible. I'm not sure people are gonna buy it.

Too much in the room. I thought it was much more focused on the 535 elected officials in the room than any joint speech I'd seen. It kind of felt more like a Roosevelt Room talk than a speech to the country. A lot of process.

That said, the Kennedy riff was powerful and the portrayal of Kennedy as bipartisan leader was pretty brilliant. The line about government bureaucrats and insurance bureaucrats was a good conflation. Was it enough? I don't know. I don't think we'll know for awhile.

On a personal note, Tony Lee, the conservative writer, makes the point that we got to see another Joe Wilson give the White House hell. La plus ca change.... 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/09/did-it-work/24760/