[Posted by Karl]
Tonight, Pres. Obama is giving a speech on healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress. Undoubtedly, it will be “historic,” at least to the nighttime staff at MSNBC. It probably is the first time that a president has delivered a major speech to children two days in a row.
But to whom is Pres. Obama really speaking? Congress? Even a partisan Soros hack like Matthew Yglesias acknowledges that the speech is not going to change any minds there. After the speech, Congress is going to have the same problems it had before the speech, primarily that the Democrats’ plans all inevitably involve a lot of unpopular taxes and unpopular spending and scare the vast majority of people who are already insured.
Is Obama speaking to the American people? He’s been doing that for over a month. While lefty publications make the understandably modest claim that Obama and ObamaCare “survived” August, public opinion polls show that Obama was less popular and ObamaCare was more unpopular at the end of August than at the end of July. If the ABC News double-infomercial, the primetime press conference, the daytime press conference, the town halls in New Hampshire, Colorado, Montana, Virginia, etc., and the massive astroturf campaign put on by HCAN all failed, why should this speech succeed?
Is Obama speaking to political news junkies as opinion leaders? Not really. To the contrary, early reports suggest the speech will not contain any big news.
Obama will endorse a government-run insurance plan (as usual), but will not demand one (as usual). Off the record, the White House admits the “public option” is off the table, as House Maj. Ldr. Steny Hoyer and Maj. Whip Jim Clyburn start tiptoeing for the exit. The leaders of the progressive caucus’s reputation continue to demand a “robust” government plan, but the rank and file aren’t necessarily following. In the Senate, even Olympia Snowe seems to be drifting away from the project. Obama may offer a few more details in his speech, but has put off offering his own draft legislation (most likely to extend the news cycle). The legislative process has been headed toward health insurance reforms and an individual mandate for a while, which is why progressives have been preparing to be disappointed with this speech since last week. The Right has little motivation to watch, beyond the prospect of playing Obama Health-Care Speech Bingo.
Accordingly, the self-selected audience for the speech will likely skew in favor of Obama, something to remember if the establishment media does a poll of people who watched the speech. Otherwise, the biggest beneficiaries of tonight’s speech are the cast and crew of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?” and “Glee,” which should do boffo ratings.