10 September, 2009

Obama's Reform Speech: The Good, the Bad, and the Absolutely Fucking Ridiculous

President Obama gave his big health care reform speech, which I missed because I was thinking in Pacific rather than Eastern time. But I don't feel like I've missed a thing. After all, the transcript's online, a bunch of folks live-blogged it, and there was plenty of follow-up.

We'll begin our review of the highlights with the lowlights, as it were.

Saxby Chambliss had the utter gall to demand humility from Obama before the Big Speech. Hey, Sax - how about humility from the losers just this once, K? Thank you, Steve Benen, for breaking the Smack-o-Matic over his arse.

And if you thought the rest of the GOP would act like grownups, well, you don't know Cons. They treated the solemn occasion as if they'd been bused in on the Glenn Beck Express:

Tonight during his joint address to Congress, President Obama attempted to set the record straight on some of the “key controversies” surrounding the health care debate. While it’s normal for members of the opposition party to occasionally not clap at statements with which they disagree, congressional Republicans went further tonight, being outright rude at times.

At one point, President Obama addressed the myth that his health care proposals would insure undocumented immigrants: “This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

In response, Republicans not only began booing him, but Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted out, “LIE!” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shot an angry look in his direction, and Vice President Biden shook his head. The rudeness shocked even veteran political observers such as NBC’s Chuck Todd, who wrote on Twitter, “Wow. What’s next a duel?” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough also wrote, “Whoever shouted out that the president was lying is a dumbass who should show the President respect.” On MSNBC after the speech, Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman said, “The Republicans were mostly stage props in this speech tonight and they behaved like it.”

Indeed they did. If you didn't catch the speech on teevee, Greg Sargent and Steve Benen liveblogged it, and caught the Cons in all their unglorious action.

Note how quickly Wilson apologized after his Democratic opponent made thousands off his idiocy? Ah, pissed-off small donors, how I love thee.

Olympia Snowe, who apparently has delusions of grandeur now that she's confirmed as the only Con sane enough to work across the aisle with, "personally asked President Obama to remove any mentions of the public option from his speech to Congress." I'm afraid she vastly overestimated her importance, but it was a nice try.

In fact, all those folks who were fearing Obama wouldn't so much as mention the public option were in for a bit of a shock. He made his case for it. Granted, he didn't say "Public option or bust!", and that's a shame, but let's consider the reaction of listening Dems for a moment, shall we?

There's Rep. John Dingell:

"I think a). he was clear enough and b). he was strong enough because he made it plain that the public option was the way to create an absolutely necessary thing for the bill to succeed--and that is competition."

Does that mean the public option is more viable now than it was this morning?

"The answer to the question is yes," Dingell told me.
And Sen. Sherrod Brown:

"He wants to always be open to ideas...but he sets his standard. And the standard is it's gotta offer better choice... it's got to discipline insurance companies... and it's got to bring prices down," Brown said in response to a question from TPMDC. "The other options don't even come close to doing it."

Brown's statement amounts to a belief that Obama has implied a demand for a public option. Obama has insisted that the plan he signs must increase competition and bring prices down. But though he's said he's open to triggers and co-ops, Brown says those options fall short enough that they likely won't meet the President mark. "I think he laid it out in a way that only a public option will get us where we want to go."

And even House Progressive leader Raul Grijalva wasn't too disappointed:

"It was very encouraging," Grijalva said. "Obviously our policy point is the public plan and I thought the President dealt with it. He didn't get into a lot of specificity of what he does support and doesn't support."

In an official statement, which I've pasted below, Grijalva said "the President needs to be more direct on what the public option means and what it will do for the American people."

So it sounds like Dems will take that implicit endorsement of the public option and run with it. All to the good, sez I.

There were a lot of interesting people with gripping stories present to witness said speech. Digby's got their bios. Here's hoping the media pays attention to them instead of screaming Teabaggers for once.

And the tearjerker moment: Ted Kennedy's letter from the dead:

At the end of President Obama's speech tonight, he read from a letter Ted Kennedy wrote to him in May, but which was only delivered upon his death.

"For me, this cause stretched across decades," Kennedy wrote. "[I]t has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination."

There will be struggles - there always have been - and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat - that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family's health will never again depend on the amount of a family's wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will - yes, we will - fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

We will, Teddy. Somehow, we will.


Chris said...

Does Joe Wilson's kind of behavior really shock anyone anymore? After all, prepubescent cons like him have invested their party's entire future on the premise that the American public is too stupid to handle any argument above the level of playground name calling.

Chris Rhetts said...

This Joe Wilson thing reminded me of my former partner, the virtual Nadia Comaneci of profanity, Bob Straussbaugh. His effortless formulations were like an exquisite form of Haiku: at once saturating the mind with immediate delight, yet leaving the listener with an unexpected resource - like a morsel of an exceptional Caille en Sarcophage one pleasantly discovers lodged between one’s teeth and savors long after the banquet. His pungent rendering of “ass wipe” was quintessential. It began with the “ass” in a playful, yet firm, nasal falsetto which expressed a glorious command of the vocal chords, then descended with the same wild exhilaration of an inner tube ride over Niagara Falls, to the vibrant baritone of the “wipe”. Afterwards, one could merely quiver - as if held in thrall by constant echoes, yet blissfully unaware that there exists no canyon, or gorge, on Earth large enough to reproduce the faintest remainder. Ironically, his work seemed to encourage general asswipery, since it tempted everyone within earshot to engage in the activity if only to earn the honor of being called out for it by Bob. If you watch the video carefully, I think you will find Bob Straussbaugh somewhere in the audience, since this is the only plausible reason for Representative Wilson’s incredibly stupid outburst.

Cujo359 said...

The Republicans countered the President's speech with a doctor who was sued for malpractice three times. He is, or at least was also a birther. Let's see, reckless enough to credit nonsense without checking on it, and sued for malpractice. Kinda adds up, don't you think?

Nothing from those assclowns shocks me anymore.

Chris Rhetts said...

Mesdames and Messieurs, I present you with the following choices: First, hearing my friend Bob Straussbaugh calling someone a shit-for-brains; Second, a dinner of cuisse de grenouille and wild asparagus at the Cafe de la Paix, then down the street, a performance of Giselle at the Palais Garniert, then a peaceful night's sleep in the Belle Etoile Suite at Hotel Meurice, then at last waking the following morning in your bed, next to which is a night stand, on which rests a silver salver containing some delicious truffles and a 500 Euro banknote.

If you chose the opera house, you have my deepest sympathies, for you have never met Mr. Straussbaugh, nor anyone capable of describing the transformative power of his profanity. World class chefs and ballet dancers - yes - are rare and expensive, but there are several of them, and more in training. So as long as you live, at least you have the potential to enjoy them. Not so for Mr. Straussbaugh, whose maturation to expert in the art of swearing and eventual death will bond forever to feckless time the fleeting moments the world has to experience his utter genius.

The other night, as I witnessed Congressman Joe Wilson making of himself a sublime ass, I longed, as I have never longed for Giselle or wild asparagus, to hear Mr. Straussbaugh fixing, according to his own, unique method and for all eternity, the title of shit-for-brains on this profoundly uncouth excuse for a man, so that even when he eventually stands in front of The Grand Accountant, St. Peter will already know all which is important to know of him. Adieu...