Obama's health care speech: the best and worst moments

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Love him or hate him, the President can give a speech! During President Obama's health care address to Congress last night (full text here) one couldn't help but wonder if even the most hardened of birthers and deathers--those who fight against health care reform by spreading false rumors, such as the "death panel" nuttiness--couldn't help but feel moved. Here are, in the opinion of this reporter, the highlight's from last night:

Best line of the evening:

Ooooh, that's a toss up, but I'm going to have to go with: "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last."

But a very close second, that will be immortalized, is: "That large-heartedness – that concern and regard for the plight of others – is not a partisan feeling. It is not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character." The first one showed backbone, which is what the President needs if he's going to pass reform.

Worst line of the evening:

"Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do."

Wait a minute, didn't he already ask us to "put away childish things" at the inauguration? If he says this one more time, it better be followed up with a spanking, because every patient parent snaps eventually, and that's what he's sounding like, a dad on a road trip: I mean it, guys, I mean it... Quit throwing things or I'm coming back there!


Wonkiest detail:

Hmmm, well, not a lot to work with here. If his speech had too many details, it wouldn't make for good television. This one's hard so let's go with: "That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. But we cannot have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees." That's when you stare at Biden and wonder how hard he's resisting pointing and waving at people in the audience.

Most chilling line:

"Insurance executives don't do this because they are bad people. They do it because it's profitable. As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill; they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called 'Wall Street's relentless profit expectations.'"

Best reference to a meme:

Death panels: "Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple."

Memorable moment:

It's a tie:
1) Michelle Obama tearing up as her husband walks in and takes the podium. During his standing ovation, the camera cut to the first lady multiple times, showing us the emotion on her face and giving us a sense of all the support and personal conversations leading up to this moment.

2) The deathrays shooting out of Nancy Pelosi's scowl of vengeance. You can see why conservatives hate her so much, Pelosi does not play around. We find out later, in the post-speech wrap-up, that Pelosi sent that telepathatic "I will end you" to Joe Wilson, the rabid Congressman from South Carolina who heckled.


Scene stealer:

Nothing spells "this will make my career" than disrupting a momentous occasion as Joe Wilson did with his "you lie!" moment. Unfortunately for Wilson, the stunt backfired, raising $350,000 for his opponent, Rob Miller, a Democrat running against him in 2010. Ooh. (But that's okay, he pleased some of his biggest financial supporters: the insurance industry.)


Most sympathetic character:


That young Congressman from Illinois with the nice abs! Everyone knows that Aaron Schock is young and hip and hip/young people love to fit in. It must have been painful for the Schocker, who's buddy-buddy with the First Lady, not to stand up and applaud with the rest of the audience. The fact that he was so eager to finally do so shows in how he was first up, and smiling, during the Republican's single standing ovation--for malpractice reform. This video shows how happy he was to finally see some action.

Best post-game wrap-up by a pundit:

Paul Begala on CNN: "The harder work will come not under the kleig lights, but behind the scenes. Pres. Obama will need to twist lots of congressional arms to pass his plan. But tonight he fired a shot across the bow of some of the self-professed fiscal conservatives. He decried how the Bush tax cuts, the Bush war in Iraq and the Bush prescription drug plan helped explode the deficit, squandering the Clinton surplus and plunging us deep in debt. No one who voted for that unholy trinity -- and a whole lot of Blue Dogs did -- can credibly oppose Obama's health reforms on fiscal grounds. Let's hope he drives that point home even more powerfully when he meets with moderate Democrats in private."

Overall Consensus of speech:

Out of the park!--the most emotional we've ever seen our President, and he attempted to reach the best in us and channeled the best in politics, which together make the character of our country.
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