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:
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.
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.”
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:
And Sen. Sherrod Brown:
"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 even House Progressive leader Raul Grijalva wasn't too disappointed:
"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."
So it sounds like Dems will take that implicit endorsement of the public option and run with it. All to the good, sez I.
"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."
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.