Here's one indicator that doesn't look so good:  my Google News feed around 7 am this morning:


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That's how a machine ranked the stories, based on reader response.  The Gates story is sucking up the public's very limited attention span for health care.

I was already pretty skeptical that this was going to do much good.  Outside of elections and wars, it's hard to get people to watch a presidential address at the best of times.  Late July is not the best of times.  You don't want to counterprogram a wonkathon when people can flip to "So You Think You Can Dance" or wander outside to drink in the summer evening.  Maybe it will move the poll numbers, but frankly, I'd be surprised.

So I think the left-wing pundits worrying about the performance are missing the point.  The performance was, in fact, not all that good, especially by the high standards Obama set during the campaign.  But I'll be shocked if the overnights beat Law and Order reruns.  More than one journalist of my acquaintance skipped the thing.  If a press conference falls in the summer doldrums, and nobody watches it, does it really matter?

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