'Touch of Greatness' in 'Remarkable' Speech About 'Re-Branding' Obama as 'Centrist'
Some very friendly assessments of President Barack Obama's health
care address Wednesday night to a joint session of Congress, most
gathered from the quick analysis in the short time between Obama and
the Republican response:
♦ MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hailed it as "a broad and forward thinking speech" with "a touch of greatness." (MP3 audio)
♦ On ABC, George Stephanopoulos saw "a pretty remarkable speech" and suggested "this might have been the most emotional speech I've seen President Obama give" as "there was even a catch in his voice" because "this is very close to President Obama's heart." (MP3 audio)
♦ Chuck Todd, on NBC, recited how Obama endorsed an insurance mandate for all citizens, "came down pretty strongly for the so-called public option" and proposed paying for it all by "taxing benefits for the wealthiest." Yet after that liberal litany, Todd insisted the address was "about re-branding the President himself as a centrist and a pragmatist."
♦ CNN's Gloria Borger trumpeted how "there was something in there for everybody" before David Gergen lamented Obama's lost opportunity: "Had he given this speech three months ago, when there was a glow about his presidency, I think he could have swept the country..."
♦ Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, during a 11:15 PM EDT edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show, celebrated: "The great news tonight is this bill is on track for passage. Historic change is coming to the United States." (MP3 audio)
More complete quotes from Wednesday night, September 9:
Keith Olbermann on MSNBC:
It was, to say the least, a broad and forward thinking speech. On the rhetoric and the phrasing and the pacing and the design of the speech itself there seems to have been a touch of greatness. [Video, via Eyeblast, audio link above]
George Stephanopoulos, host of This Week and the network's chief Washington correspondent, on ABC:
That was a pretty remarkable speech. You [Charles Gibson] were right. It was clean-spoken, a lot of short sentences and I think the President, at the beginning, did more to explain his plan than he ever has before, but I also think, this might have been the most emotional speech I've seen President Obama give.
He was right on the edge of anger, it seemed, at times, especially when he was rebutting some of the charges made about his plan. And I don't think I've ever seen him get caught up emotionally in the way he did in those final couple of paragraphs, where there was even a catch in his voice - not even in his inaugural address back in January. This is very close to President Obama's heart.
NBC's chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, on NBC:
Let's go through some quick facts. He endorsed the mandate making it so that saying everybody has to get, buy health insurance, or every employer basically has to offer it. He came down pretty strongly for the so-called public option. He talked about how to pay for it by taxing benefits for the wealthiest Americans who receive very high-end benefits, so a few of the details that we didn't know from the President. But as much as about health care it was also about re-branding the President himself as a centrist and a pragmatist.
From CNN following the GOP response, senior political analyst Gloria Borger:
He took something from John McCain, he took something from Hillary Clinton, he took medical malpractice from the Republicans to the disdain of lots of liberal Democrats. So, there was something in there for everybody.
David Gergen, who holds the same title with CNN:
Had he given this speech three months ago, when there was a glow about his presidency, I think he could have swept the country. It was a very well-crafted speech. But now, given everything that's happened, I think millions of Americans, who voted for him, will say tonight, we saw the Obama we elected. They will be really excited by this speech, but for a lot of others, I'm not sure it moved them very much. I'm not sure it healed the divides....
Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, about 11:40 PM EDT during a special edition of The Ed Show on MSNBC:
Well, I think he did pretty much what we've been talking about all along, Ed, is he laid - he set the table for constructive compromise. He was very, very firm that the status quo, when it comes to options in these so-called health exchanges, will not continue. There will be options. And whether that option is a public option or some kind of a compromised public option or some kind of a souped-up co-op that really has teeth, we don't know yet. But that's the principle that he laid out tonight, and I think it's a constructive one to move forward are towards passage of a bill. The great news tonight is this bill is on track for passage. Historic change is coming to the United States.
Audio: combined MP3 clip of Olbermann, Stephanopoulos and Alter.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center