Twice, Barack Obama and his team put together winning national campaigns, combining sophisticated data analysis and effective marketing with a strong candidate. In a speech at the White House on Thursday morning, the president will launch a third such campaign, with a much weaker candidate: Obamacare. And this third campaign could be the one that defines Obama's legacy.
The details of Obama's speech will be familiar to those who've been paying attention to the evolution of the Affordable Care Act (the less popular actual name of the policy). The Huffington Post summarizes what to expect:
In his speech, Obama will highlight several of the law's consumer benefits, including the health insurance rebates given to 8.5 million people this year. He also will emphasize the effects of provisions the administration says enabled states including California, Oregon and Vermont to pressure health insurance companies to bring down their rates for next year, a senior administration official said.
Obama's problem is precisely that almost no one has actually been paying attention. Most of what people hear about Obamacare is unflattering: provisions are delayed, the House is voting to repeal it for the umpteenth time, or rhetoric from the president's opponents suggesting all sorts of horrible outcomes from its implementation. A June poll suggested that nearly half of Americans considered the law to be a bad idea. Twice as many people expected it would make them worse off than better off.