When the White House announced last week that the President would be addressing a joint session of Congress on the health care issue, I suggested that the President was raising the stakes not just through the roof but to the stars beyond. Well, he hit the jackpot tonight. I have been listening closely to Presidential speeches for about 35 years now, have watched quite a few oldies but goodies from the past, have even contributed ideas to a fair share of speeches in the Clinton years, and I am sitting here thinking that was one of the very best Presidential speeches I have ever heard. JFK's inaugural and a couple of FDR's best are the only ones I can think of that moved me so much. More importantly, though, he did everything he needed to do:
- Lay out clearly what he strongly believes in
- Make a powerful argument for why we need to get this done
- Answer the phony scare tactics
- Fire up the people around the country who want to get this done to keep working to make it happen
I was also very happy that the President took the Republicans on quite forcefully. While continuing to offer his hand, he made clear he wasn't going to take their BS any longer without pushing back.
As one who has been unhappy about a fair amount of Obama's communications strategy on health care up until now, I came away from tonight's speech a very happy man. He took a very big gamble, but I think he will get a great pay-off from it. He stood and delivered. Now I just hope Congress will find it within itself to do the same.