Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2009

PRIME-TIME POLICY TALK.... Press-conference analysis is a bit like art criticism -- capable, knowledgeable observers can watch the exact same thing at the same time, and come away with very different impressions about what they've seen.

President Obama held an hour-long press conference at the White House last night, and the reactions are all over the map. Paul Krugman really liked what he saw, and was very impressed. Kevin Drum was unimpressed and disappointed. Joe Klein thought Obama was great; publius thought Obama was underwhelming. Jonathan Cohn liked what he saw and praised the president's willingness "to speak to America like adults"; Howard Fineman did not like what he saw and found the presser boring.

For what it's worth, I'm in the impressed camp. Obama's command of the substance of this debate was obvious, and he hit every point I wanted to see him make.

Yesterday, the NYT ran a piece about health care reform noting that many Americans are watching this policy debate unfold and are asking themselves, "What's in it for me?" By last night, the president was approaching the discussion in the exact same way: "I realize that with all the charges and criticisms that are being thrown around in Washington, a lot of Americans may be wondering: What's in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health-insurance reform?" Obama proceeded to answer those questions reasonably well, and with quite a bit of detail.

The president succeeded in acknowledging public anxiety, correcting misperceptions, and presenting the need for reform in personal ways. He made a plausible, if deliberately incomplete, case for hurrying the process along. Obama has a habit of taking on detractors' criticism directly, without sounding defensive, and turning the attacks around to his advantage. We saw that play out many times last night.

The president also exuded confidence about the task at hand. Major media outlets have made it seem as if the White House has been under siege for weeks by reform skeptics, but Obama didn't look like a guy who's been beaten up; he looked like a guy who was going to win.

As a substantive matter, I'm not sure how much actual news the press conference generated. Obama once again made a plug for paying for reform through limiting "itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans," which Congress doesn't seem to like, but he added that the idea of surtax meets his general "principle."

I thought Obama was probably at his strongest with these remarks:

"If somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health-care costs over the next 10 years, that's guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit, I think most people would be opposed to that. Well, that's the status quo. That's what we have right now. So if we don't change, we can't expect a different result.

"And that's why I think this is so important -- not only for those families out there who are struggling and who need some protection from abuses in the insurance industry or need some protection from skyrocketing costs, but it's also important for our economy.

"And by the way, it's important for families' wages and incomes. One of the things that doesn't get talked about is the fact that when premiums are going up, and the costs to employers are going up, that's money that could be going into people's wages and incomes. And over the last decade, we basically saw middle-class families; their incomes and wages flatlined. Part of the reason is, because health-care costs are gobbling that up."

The more the president makes the case this way, the better off his chances of success are.

As for some of the lingering questions, Obama once again touted the benefits of a public plan, but did not insist that it be part of the package passed by Congress. While he emphasized the need to tackle reform quickly, the president did not reiterate the pre-recess August deadline and made no mention of asking lawmakers to work through August.

What did you think?

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Comments

I think he was great. He explained things for all those people who don't have a grasp of the issue or who obtain their "news" via Rushbo in ways that are hard to refute and easy to understand. I have more ammo when talking to my father-in-law or those in the dark on the harsh reality of private company administered health care.

Posted by: Patrick in Chicago on July 23, 2009 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

I think the one weak point was when he as asked about people who are afraid they will lose some of their existing coverage. He seemed to dodge away from that issue in order to deliver more budgetary bullet points. It turned out, on a follow-up question, that he had a perfectly good answer ready: the public plan will pretty much be what members of Congress now enjoy.

I wish he had jumped on the fear issue with this good answer, and created a little FDR moment: we have nothing to fear in this except the lies of those who benefit from the current system and don't want to change it.

Posted by: Andrew Wetmore on July 23, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't get to see the coverage, but here's a thought as to why he didn't push the recess deadline: Pelosi is already touting that. Congress already knows that's one of his big goals and has been saying so for a while now. I think he knows he can only say the same message for so long. Now that Pelosi is sharing the thought, and endorsing it, Obama probably thinks, "OK, it is in Congress' hands, which is what I wanted. Now I'll let them figure it out."

Posted by: Katie on July 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, was a bit taken aback by the "commentary" after the news conference. I thought Obama did a very good job and wondered if we had been watching the same thing on TV. Both Howard Fineman and Chris Matthews complained that Obama didn't use any anecdotes about real people.

Excuse me, but were they napping? He told several stories of people who have lost coverage when they lost a job, whose coverage had been canceled, and whose cancer treatment was not covered, and they had to spend life savings to pay for it.

I happen to work in the health care industry and can see many of these instances. Doctors are extremely frustrated by insurance company coverage and limitations. And while I am insured -- and have pretty good insurance -- there have been many things I had to pay for out of pocket, a result of seemingly arbitrary decisions.

For years, my husband and I have tutored inner-city kids. You want to see health care rationing, go to the waiting room of a clinic or ER of a public hospital where most patients are uninsured and poor. They're told to show up early and wait all day. Many times they can't be seen that day and have to come back the next day. So they head home and come back the next morning, having received no treatment. But they're still sick.

And this is what the Republicans call "the greatest health care in the world."

Posted by: Molly Weasley on July 23, 2009 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Fineman has been absolutely unbearable of late. His commentary on CNN and MSNBC was simply dumb as rocks. On CNN, he felt the headline was going to be about Obama's response to the Gates question! And he felt that Obama had confirmed it was a case of racial profiling, when in fact Obama did NOT say that. Unbelievable.

Posted by: Jake on July 23, 2009 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

That he left the public option off his "won't sign a bill without ..." list has me on uneasy alert (though it came up a few minutes later). But otherwise I thought this one was pretty dang pitch-perfect, including -- no, especially -- how he handled Lynn Sweet's question.

Tapper notwithstanding, I sensed most of the questioners finally noting some changed circumstances and raising their game. A tidge. (Fingers lightly crossed for more-n-bettah of that.)

Posted by: lotus on July 23, 2009 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

My biggest complaint is that his prepared remarks did not include mention of the public option. He got to that in the questioning, but it makes it seem like a secondary issue for him.

Which it should not be.

Posted by: Lance on July 23, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Moll W writes:"You want to see health care rationing, go to the waiting room of a clinic or ER of a public hospital where most patients are uninsured and poor."

-That's part of the problem: An infitesimally tiny part of the population goes there and sees that.

Out of sight, out of mind. Unless, like Molly, we're 'in the business', we spend little time thinking about the disadvantaged among us, what with the myriad pressing needs of our own daily existence.

-Unless, of course, we ARE 'one of them'. And then, ipso facto, we have no voice. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 23, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I thought he was great last night. As Klein put it: "the ease, fluency and grasp of detail--and the ability to use vivid examples that made this complicated subject accessible to most Americans--made this an impressive performance. No wonder the fellow was elected President."

Says it all for me.

Posted by: purplehawk on July 23, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Was this the same press conference where Obama called a police officer stupid?

Posted by: inkadu on July 23, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with the comments about Matthews and Fineman. Did they actually watch the press conference or were they throwing down a couple at the bar next door to the NBC studios? It was pretty apparent that neither paid any attention to anything Obama said except for the last question about Gates. Even then Fineman got it wrong.

I guess we can't expect our talking heads to know anything about real health care policy.

Do you want to solve the health care problems of our country. Level the playing field so members of congress and the insufferable talking heads have to deal with the reality the rest of us face daily.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Strange to hear our Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator call for a "Prevent Defense". He did not stand tall, last evening. He should have been attacking those, as others have called them, the Blue Cross Democrats and stopped trying to schmooze with the RepuGs. He should pounded Public Option into their heads. Have read right wing commenters at other sites, and, they are still so dim witted they believe Single Payer is being pushed. To hell with the DINOs and the RepuGs. A prevent defense has never stopped anything, but, one's own momemtum. Obama sounded and looked as though most of the air has gone out of him. He was in a very defeatist mode. Bodes ill for this nation.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

The talking heads were all off yesterday, don't know why, but as a group I'd guess that they're all very out-of-touch with what is going on with average Americans. The Village is pretty damned clueless when it comes to most issues and health care even more than most.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on July 23, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ink-

Obama called arresting someone in their own house a "stupid move." I think that's a pretty accurate way to describe what happened-- it was a stupid move by the police and completely avoidable. It's one thing to follow up on the call, to see if there was an attempted robbery, but once that was cleared up the police should have said their "sorry to bother you, have a good day sir" and left, pronto.

But if that's all you want to take away from Obama's 2 minute response about the Gates case and the history of racial profiling-- that he said the police were "stupid"-- then you are infact pretty stupid.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on July 23, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Chris Matthews wakes up, even from naps, each time in a different political world. Fineman is another sellout to the right. I didn't need to, although I watched them, listen to them to understand the President is becoming fatigued with this and is backing off in support for Public Option.

Yes, the arrest inside the house, after the Professor produced his identification was stupid. This was a scene out of "Amos and Andrew", where two liberals called the police to tell them a "Horrors" Black Man has entered the home of one of their neighbors. Not knowing the Black is a gifted and successful playwright who had purchased the home, led to a manipulating and racist Police Chief played so well by Dabney Coleman to take the situation into a ticket for his re-election. Life imitates Art.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

All those opinion spewing pundits you mentioned find their eyes glazing over when Obama gives intelligent, thoughtful, detail providing comments. They need something short, quick, catchy to use when they are on their endless gabfests with the boobs on CNN, MSNBC, FAUX NEWS, etc...you know it must fit on a scroll...many real people are hungry for information and someone articulate to speak with them again...but our MSM keeps getting in the way...

Posted by: Dancer on July 23, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"Was this the same press conference where Obama called a police officer stupid?"

You askin cause there's no such thing?

Posted by: SRW1 on July 23, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Masterful.

Posted by: Raoul on July 23, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

not watching the teevee affords me hundreds of opinions as to what happened. i trust folks like john nichols to contextualize the event pretty well. and he did, it appears.

i enjoy the neo-Newsweek bubbles at TPM, the fervor of FDL, et al.

i am amused at all the framers concerns about this that and the other thing... like the gates arrest comment has now totally destroyed any opportunity for healthcare reform -- or, harumph, a really big mistake on obama's part that damaged the push severely, or however else a framer wants to whine about obama not being the modern scientific propagandist necessary to work the public and grab all the molecules of power floating out there in the post-structural linguistic universe... or wev.

the collective seems to indicate Obama tried again to speak clearly heart -to-heart about the substance of the crisis, and to stay distant from the fray -- "It's not about me, I got great health insurance, so does the Congress."

but still sticking it to the critics in a conventional way -- if Rovian "i know you are but what am i" is the new convention.

he plainly did that by explaining that all the shit the critics say will happen if the radical socialistic reforms go thru IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW (except he didn't use CAPS and he should have).

Posted by: neill on July 23, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

I was also frustrated with Matthews and Fineman commentaries... and the fact that they keep saying that it was boring really irks me.... what do they want, a show? ridiculous! I think the president did great, fantastic command of the issue....
but anyway, remember, these are the same pundits who found Obama boring at all the debates during the primary and general election, and we know how that turned out.....

Posted by: Monica on July 23, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Zoe, I think you are being hard on Ink. I took his/her comment as sarcastic (though I obviously don't know) I missed the presser and I stopped at several newspaper websites this morning to find out how it went and several papers and commenters are obsessing on the fact that he called a cop stupid. And Obama apparently called Doctors dumb as well, though I am less clear on that. As usual Bill Kristol has the ultimate piece of tripe on this meme in this morning's Post.

Get ready for this meme, you will hear it all day from the right wing media machine.

I was going to post something like what Ink wrote, though I would have been more complete like "What, he talked about health care during his anti-Police speech? Who knew?"

If Ink was being sarcastic, I take it back. But you will hear the meme all day if not week. Fox will play the clip endlessly showing he is soft on crime and sympathizes too much with a black man.

Posted by: Adolphus on July 23, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

oops I meant, "If Ink was NOT being sarcastic, I take it back"

big difference.

Posted by: Adolphus on July 23, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Was this the same press conference where Obama called a police officer stupid?

No. Because that press conference never happened except in imaginary land.

Posted by: brent on July 23, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

No public option is not good enough. That single-payer has been off the table since essentially the beginning of the bill-writing process is completely unacceptable to me.

I am currently uninsured. I do not have $300-$400 "extra" to pay for health insurance. I am not looking forward to the humiliation of submitting and resubmitting my income information every six months or a year, praying that I haven't made $1 over the cutoff for assistance.

This is not the country I was born in. It just plays America on TV.

Posted by: Gah. on July 23, 2009 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Watching the president, I felt that he did a good job of mowing down the ridiculous right wing talking points.

I did not watch the post speech yammering but apparently it was just what I expected.

Of the experiences I've had with the police in my lifetime, I would have to say that somewhere near half of them are hopelessly stupid. Some are very perceptive and intelligent. When you get pulled over, you just never know what might happen even if you're white. If you're not white, I think the possibility of a favorable outcome is somewhat diminished.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on July 23, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Obama was great. His opening speech was the most COMMANDING that I've ever seen/heard him: "Yes sir!!!"
And he addressed Republican critics expertly. He handled the questions well, and I think most viewers would leave that conference understanding health care reform much better.

Posted by: Varecia on July 23, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

I think what we all need to remember is people like chris matthews want to see a fight they wanna see obama take it to the repubs take it to the blue dogs because its great for ratings the problem is it does nothing to push the agenda it gets us no closer to health care reform obama was pitch perfect not at all soft but not to aggresive he's the president and he's fighting for the american people

Posted by: Tavares on July 23, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Matt Drudge and our corporately owned media have hit on the 'right' tone for discussions of Obama's press conference.

The real topic of discussion and the 'right' issue to discuss is "Why is Obama defending Professor Gates?"

Just because Gates is one of the preeminent scholars of our country (black, white, purple, whatever) and just because he was inside his own home are not justification for the uppity n*gger not being subserviant to a white officer of the law! So why was Obama defending him?

After all, we are in a 'post-racial society'!

At least, in Boston, the talk radio hosts have overwhelmingly received support for the white officer of the law. I am sure that Rush will receive the same feedback today and I am sure that Hannity will provide further feedback that the black man was in the wrong.

With Drudge, Rush, Sean, and, of course, Glen Beck on the side of the white officer, how can Obama defend the uppity black man?

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on July 23, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

My biggest objection to the press conference was that our President did not use it as a bully pulpit. He needed the fire he has displayed on the stump. When he came to Portland, OR, he set a vast crowd on fire with his rhetoric.

I would like to see him replicate a scene from "Knute Rockne", where he walks into a Democrattic Caucus, pauses and says, "Oh, excuse me Republicans, I thought I was supposed to be in the Democratic Caucus" and walks out.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

"My biggest objection to the press conference was that our President did not use it as a bully pulpit. He needed the fire he has displayed on the stump. When he came to Portland, OR, he set a vast crowd on fire with his rhetoric."

Isn't it kind of hard to set the audience on fire if that audience is the WH press corps?

Posted by: SRW1 on July 23, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

I closed my eyes once during Obama's comments and tried to visualize that it was a George Bush press conference. Instead of complete knowledge of the issues and straight talk we would get canned mush from Rove's script with Bush's whiney ,smirky delivery. Pundits post-conference comments are immaterial. Just count our blessings!

Posted by: Richard on July 23, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

SRW1 asks about it being only the WH Press Corps. Was it televised LIVE to the nation? This was not held in a hallway closet with a mop draped over Chuck Todd's head.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

This is the least meta- site on the interwebs.

Anyway, to put in a more boring way: I would love to see a breakdown of local news coverage of the press conference and see how much time they spent discussing health care, how much time they spend on bogus "FACTCHECKING!" articles devoid of any facts, and how much time is devoted to discussing the impending riots from the downtrodden and ungrateful negro students at Harvard.(*)

There is a LOT of opinion being influenced on the local level, a lot, and nobody ever talks about it, but we probably should.

Here's a sample of one "fact check" from WTNH, in New Haven, CT:

OBAMA: "You haven't seen me out there blaming the Republicans."

THE FACTS: Obama did so in his opening statement, saying, "I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to 'go for the kill.' Another Republican senator said that defeating health reform is about 'breaking' me."

Way to advance the debate.

More nonsense at: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/politics/whitehouse/nat_ap_dc_fact_check_obamas_health_care_claims_adrift_20090723723_2672351
---
*Translation for humorless Monthly jockeys: "... or the so-called 'controversy' over Gates' arrest."

Posted by: inkadu on July 23, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

What a pathetic media we have, when the commentators are insufficiently interested to actually pay attention to the event, and then lie about it because they think people are too stupid to notice. No mentions of health care victims? Hello????

Posted by: bruce on July 23, 2009 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I was really bored, but that's because he was talking policy. Which means he did a good job.

Posted by: Andrew on July 23, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Watching all the TV pundits complaining about Obama's excellent job at the presser made me long for those focus group ratings of the debates that proved the pundits view things totally different than the public. Matthews and Fineman must have short attention spans and get bored easily, because they apparently missed much of what the Prez actually said. The pundits seemed to want entertainment and fire/brimstone preaching from the black Prez. I'm not sure how he was supposed to do that while responding to reporters' questions at a podium during a formal press conference on health care policy.

Posted by: DC on July 23, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

WOW Inkadu...
OBAMA: "You haven't seen me out there blaming the Republicans."
THE FACTS: Obama did so in his opening statement, saying, "I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to 'go for the kill.' Another Republican senator said that defeating health reform is about 'breaking' me."

That's BLAMING the GOP??? Check it out Sweetpea...that's repeating the GOP talking points...the blame is WHERE? OOOOOOOHHHH I know...he hurt their FEELINGS...that's BLAME??? Get a dictionary.

Posted by: SYSPROG on July 23, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

I thought he made some good points but could have done better. More inspiration, less budget crap would have brought the point home. He was best when explaining that pols were afraid and admitted to being in it for the politics.
But what hasn't been brought up is what the f*ck that asswipe from Chicago was doing bringing up the Gates matter. Here we have a prime time presser about one of the most crucial matters now and she asks about a local celebrity police problem??? WTF???? Michael Jackson must feel offended. No mention and he's black and has an American birth certificate too. Fire her ass!

Posted by: Frak on July 23, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

The mainstream media sucks.

Period.

Howard Fineman apparently is a hack, and Chris Matthews is every bit as racist as Pat Buchanan, he just tries to overcompensate for it with trips to Africa and the like. He is constantly obsessing over "Irish" this and "working class whites" that. I mean seriously Chris, get over it already.

They never analyze the substance of ANY issue, only the "political effect" the imagine it is having on "real people", when they ARE NOT real people and do not KNOW any real people.

Absolute f@##ing insanity.

Posted by: Nashville_fan on July 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

berttheclock, I'm aware that the press conference was televised. What my response was trying to get at was that setting an audience on fire is easier if there actually is a live response from the audience, which is not likely if the audience is the WH press corps.

If Obama were to follow your suggestion to try and breath more passion into the issue and mobilize ordinary Americans, he probably should do something like W with his Social Security tour. W failed with SS, but I think Obama has the skills to pull it of with health care.

Posted by: SRW1 on July 23, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Good point, SRW1 - He comes alive on the stump.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Obama isn't really credible on costs. If we're going to save money on health care, why do we need another trillion and a half dollars over the next 10 years? Does anyone really think Mickey Mouse things like computerizing health records is going to save any money? Computerizing health records is for the government to have better control over the people.

Posted by: luther on July 23, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Luther, you have an idea how much more health care will cost over the next ten years with the status quo continuing? A trillion and a half will be peanuts compared to that.

Posted by: SRW1 on July 23, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Obama was great last night. He was clear, articulate, and drove home the moral underpinnings of his argument with a deadly accuracy. As he said, the debate is over a plan no one would ever support (the one we have) and a plan that provides coverage for all and reduces vast inefficiencies and unnecessary costs.

Howard Fineman, who is usually very astute in his analysis, looked tired and weary. When Fineman said Obama looked tired, he was committing the fallacy of the misplaced concreteness.

Posted by: Jerry on July 23, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

When this, "I've said this before, if you found out that your neighbor had gotten the same car for $6,000 less, you'd want to figure out how to get that deal,” is immediately followed by talking about how to pay $4,000 more for your next car instead of asking how your neighbor got his $6,000 discount, I am unimpressed with what Paul Krugman calls his "command of the issues."

Posted by: Bill H on July 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

The pundits weren't happy, but I don't think that was Obama's target last night. His target was those who pay scant attention to the health care debate and are concerned about their status. He laid it out clearly and covered the "what's in it for me" type questions.

One of the pundits said he should have shown more excitement and energy - what do you want, a clear explanation of the issue or a cheerleader? I prefer the explanation.

Posted by: Jilli on July 23, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite line was this - Democrats sorely need to keep emphasizing this:

"In the past eight years, we saw the enactment of two tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, and a Medicare prescription program, none of which were paid for. This is partly why I inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit."

Posted by: Ohioan on July 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Look, here's the deal: We Are Broke. And it is entirely because of Medicare and long-term care in Medicaid. The permanent unfunded obligation of future Medicare payments, at $36T, is about the same as total household wealth in this country. The resulting structural deficit is something like 7-9% of GDP, depending on assumptions, but in any event is larger than the kinds of holes that lead to being put under IMF receivership.

We are utterly and completely broke.

We have to start down the hardest path we have ever attempted: dramatically reducing the rate of growth of healthcare utilization in the over 65 population. We have no idea how to get there. Having healthier, insured people under the age of 65 (the rising cohort) is probably a good idea. Probably a lot of other things might help too. But people are going to get hurt, some financially, some medically.

Obama, Orszag, and Emanuel are the first people in the White House to seriously attempt to deal with this train wreck. Can we stop nit picking their delivery and appearance, and start arguing about how we're going to actually create the necessary policy and legal changes needed? Please?

unfunded liability: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/tr2009.pdf [table III.B.10]
total wealth: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/Current/z1.pdf [table L.100]
structural deficit: http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2009/06_fiscal_crisis_gale.aspx

Posted by: s_kawachi on July 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hey inkadu..."...OBAMA: "You haven't seen me out there blaming the Republicans."

THE FACTS: Obama did so in his opening statement, saying, "I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to 'go for the kill.' Another Republican senator said that defeating health reform is about 'breaking' me."

Just how is that "blaming" the republicans. You're an idiot. That's stating facts and no "blaming" going on at all.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 23, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ease up folks, Inkadu was being sarcastic.

Posted by: Ohioan on July 23, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry inkadu...you're not the "idiot"... you're just reporting about the "idiots" making such absurd "fact checks". My bad. I was just as dumbfounded and outraged as you must have been at reading such ridiculous statements.-joey

Posted by: bjobotts on July 23, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Damn Ohioan--beat me by a minute.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 23, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry kawachi...this was the plan all along (since before Reagan even) to break the gov treasury so as to drown it in the bathtub.

Canceling social programs is exactly the plan of the greediest 1-2% who I can assure you are NOT BROKE BY ANY MEANS. We made them wealthy...the American taxpayer and the wealthy's army of lobbyists in the congress. Rolling back the Bush tax cuts would give us all we need to cover health care reform...rolling back the Reagan tax cuts will pay for rebuilding our infrastructure and end our economic night mare to date...then we must bring back regulation of the corporations.

Don't get suckered into their "We just can't afford it game"...it is pure propaganda. Time for the wealthiest Americans to pay back to the people who made them so wealthy.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 23, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I have no problem with revamping health care once it is properly run breaks even and does not take any extra money out of my pocket , but every government run business world wide depends on the taxpayers of the country to pay for their deficits just look at Medicare Medicaid % social sexurity in our own country

Posted by: maria on July 23, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK
Obama called arresting someone in their own house a "stupid move."

Posted by: zoe kentucky on July 23, 2009 at 9:06 AM

Yes, the arrest inside the house, after the Professor produced his identification was stupid.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 9:22 AM

Actually, by my reading of the police report, Gates was arrested outside his own home.

In fact, this was necessary. The cop knew he couldnt arrest Gates for a public disturbance inside his own home, so he baited Gates. He said he wanted to talk outside. When Gates was then belligerent outside, the cop was able to arrest him.

That said, the arrest report (which is, of course, only one side of the story) makes it sound as if Gates was being a jerk. I still think it was wrong of the officer to bait Gates into doing something harmless but arrestable, but if Gates had just responded like a normal human being (thankful that they have neighbors and police who will check up on suspicious activity in the neighborhood), then this wouldnt have happened. (again, I am basing this conclusion on the police report, which may or may not be telling the full story of who was being belligerent and who wasnt)

Posted by: TG Chicago on July 23, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 23, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Chicago radical is unfailingly supportive of the way government bureaucrats act

Tell that to Lockheed-Martin.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on July 23, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how the conservatives/NRA would have reacted if Gates had SHOT the policeman in his own home, rather than just been belligerent.

If you have a right to own a gun to protect yourself from police abuse, why don't you have a right to free speech to protect yourself from police abuse?

Posted by: Lance on July 23, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think Howard Fineman slept through the presser and used some pre-written talking points.

He actually said Obama should have used some of those stories from the letters he's reading every day in the Oval Office. Maybe it was because I was listening on the radio, but I DID hear Obama tell those stories -- one about a little girl with leukemia, another about a woman with cancer whose insurance wasn't going to cover her treatments. Did they break for a commercial on MSNBC while he was telling those stories?

Put me down with impressed, but maybe that's because I like cool and calm policy discussion and not Reganesque Cowboy folk tales with no basis in reality.

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 23, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Maria -- a person who is obviously in good health and has never needed to go to the Emergency Room and either does not have health insurance or does not have to pay for it herself.

I am absolutely confident that any increase in my taxes to pay for single payer health care would be dwarfed by the $1600/mo my husband and I have to pay for the only health insurance available to us. (AND we have to pay tax on the 1600 BEFORE we send it to the health insurance company.)

Here's hoping, Maria, that you never grow old enough to need health care.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on July 23, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Obama really stepped in it by commenting on the Gates arrest. It's the lasting story that will come out of that press conference. He rarely makes those kinds of missteps. too bad. White rage is seething in Massachusetts papers and radio today.

Posted by: grinning cat on July 23, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

As to the arrest of Henry Gates, am I surprised that those on the right who so loudly proclaim our rights under the Second Amendment are not so sure about Prof. Gate's rights under the First and Fourth Amendments?

The right of the people to be secure in their home from search and seizure? The right of the people to free speech?

And here the two are COMBINED!

Where are the Faux News anchors outraged that this man was arrested for something he SAID in his own HOME.

I don't care how loud you get, or what bad names you call a police officer, these are not legitimate grounds for arrest in this country.

This is a POLICE STATE if this can happen to a person in his or her own home. And it happened in Encinitas California too, just like in "liberal" Cambridge Massachusetts.

WAKE UP, people. The racial aspects of this are troubling, but the Constitutional aspects are downright dangerous.

Posted by: Impeach Jay Bybee on July 23, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"As to the arrest of Henry Gates, am I surprised that those on the right who so loudly proclaim our rights under the Second Amendment are not so sure about Prof. Gate's rights under the First and Fourth Amendments?...
Where are the Faux News anchors outraged that this man was arrested for something he SAID in his own HOME."

Impeach Jay Bybee on July 23, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Silly rabbit -- you didn't read the fine print.
For Publicans and conservatroids in general, the Constitution is "whites only" (and male and straight too, of course; those go without saying) -- and even then, subject to revision and restriction by properly-constituted (ie, Republican) executive authority.

Posted by: smartalek on July 23, 2009 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Badly need your help. Creative work is play. It is free speculation using materials of one's chosen form. Help me! Can not find sites on the: Compare car insurance rates. I found only this - the cheapest car insurance. The service is that bait is all in credit of you, car insurance. Car insurance, for loan, tucker mortgage tells over 40 broadcaster sites using a financial government of minimum$250 repairs. With love ;-), Hadrian from Colombia.

Posted by: Hadrian on February 19, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK
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