September 9, 2009

Predicting Obama's speech tonight

Predicting Obama's speech tonight, to the joint session of Congress isn't really all that difficult. His objective is clear - he's got to convince people his plan makes sense. More specifically, he's got to convince enough people in the Congress and in the Senate to vote for a health care plan, in some form. That leaves him two choices - he's got to convince either the Blue Dogs to vote for a government paid option, or he's got to convince the liberal Democrats to vote for a watered down reform.

That means he's got to pitch a plan that includes or excludes a public option. CNN has predicted that the President will be forceful. It will be. This is his well to go to - speeches. But this is the linchpin to his Presidency. The President could become a lame duck with a near super majority in both houses if he fails to pass anything. He cant let that happen. He will be forceful. He may be more specific than in the past. After all, in order to convince Congress he has to move a portion of the electorate back to supporting reform.

He will position it as reform. He will re-iterated the liberal staple talking points on health care - 47 million uninsured (not factual, but that's beside the point), the fierce urgency of health care now, and what it means for America. He will close with why America must make these changes. His changes. It`s all about our future, he will say.

And he will believe his own rhetoric, just as he believes in his own importance.

Back to the target audience

The President can choose to convert 30 plus Blue Dogs into a government option, or perhaps more liberals out of a government option. The game theory I think, indicates he is going to try to stick with a government options. And he believes in his own Presidency. He wants to make a massive political imprint on the country. He almost cannot back down, politically or in his own hubris.

Except that he wont make any stronger case. Re-iterating talking points in a joint session of Congress is the political equivalent of stomping your feet and repeatedly shouting "I want it!" His speech will amount to an attempt to convert the converted. His speech is scheduled to be about 38 minutes. If the bill as is, is over 1000 pages, that equates to a little over 2 seconds per page. There wont be the details the public wants to see.

Worse, it will be a truly bullying use of the bully pulpit. Do this now - or else. That might work with Blue Dog Democrats but it won't cut the mustard with the voting public. The public is in a foul mood over this socialist power grab and a scolding from the President will do nothing to change that. And if the Blue Dogs try to pull the trigger on this they will risk their own electoral defeat in 2010.

The L.A. Times predicted passage of a bill would boost Obama's ratings. Based on what? The media will spin praise right afterwards. They ll say that we've never seen the President this forceful. It was eloquent and a tour de force. This has to swing the debate. The President has saved the day.

Don't count on it. Remember the September 12th march on Washington will be a punctuating counter point. The speech is going to shift public opinion for a day or two, but not enough. Not if the public continues to fight this. The contents of the speech and the MSM spin don't even matter. The only thing that matters is whether he pushes a government option or backs off, and the reaction by the public.

The only fear conservatives should have is that he may try to slip the government option in through the back door. It is a real concern. No matter the content of the speech, as always with President Obama the devil truly is in the details. Beware.

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