John Hinderaker--a head-knocking lawyer and blogger at right-leaning Powerline--rose above the predictable boos and hoorays for Obama's speech and gave the speech its most systematic inquisition. Running through every claim point by point, he admitted that, as rhetorical politics, the speech as "reasonably effective." But it was the content of policy that concerned him.
First, he rebuked Obama for trying to squelch debate:
Debating public policy issues is not "bickering." Disagreeing with a proposal to radically change one of the largest sectors of our economy is not a "game." This kind of gratuitous insult--something we never heard from President Bush, for example--is one of the reasons why many consider Obama to be mean-spirited.
Then he launched into a barnstorming, 2100-word demonstration of what a serious policy argument can mean. He systematically vivisected, and rebutted Obama's speech point by point. Here's a sample of his highly logical, prosecutorial style in a rebuttal of mandatory insurance:
This is a key point that many will overlook. One of the central purposes of nearly all health care "reform" proposals is to force young people into the system to help pay older peoples' bills. Why is it that you can't force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions--i.e., "insure" against something that has already happened, a logical impossibility--unless you force young people to "do their part"? Insurance companies, and, eventually, the government as single payer, need young people to pay premiums that far exceed any actual risk to subsidize the known losses that will come from being forced to "insure" people whose medical conditions are not risks but certainties.
Consider the analogy to life insurance: could a dying, 90-year-old person expect an insurance company to issue him a million dollar life insurance policy? Maybe, but it would cost close to a million dollars. Why can life insurance companies sell policies at rates that people consider reasonable? Only because they are insuring against premature death, and the insured has been paying premiums for many years, during most of which time there was little risk of his dying. The same principle applies, pretty closely, to health insurance.
For argumentative rigor and for constructing an intelligent dissent almost as soon as Obama finished his case, Hinderaker wins the day.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.