You can sense that the game hasn’t been changed by the president’s speech. How? Well not by the comically Democrat-over-sampled CNN poll. (Next time, they’ll just call relatives of the president.) You can tell by the obsession of Democrats and the media (pardon the repetition) with Joe Wilson. That, rather than the speech or a load of new converts to the ObamaCare cause, was the focus and source of great tumult. Yet you knew this contrived flap wasn’t exactly helping the cause, and sure enough Nancy Pelosi and the president tried to snuff it out.
But there wasn’t much talking about how the president’s speech has changed the landscape, because there is no evidence it has. The Hill reporters write:
President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on healthcare reform was short on specifics and long on ideas he and his advisers had already floated this year. The historic speech left some liberals wanting more details and conservatives emboldened to torpedo the president’s top domestic priority. The big question of the night was how Obama was going to address the public health insurance option, but he largely repeated what he has said for weeks: He supports it, but will sign a bill that does not have it.
[. . .]
Yet, even on Obama’s concessions to the GOP, the president stopped short of offering the kind of specifics that would attract Republican support.
The partisan congressional reaction to the speech was predictable. Perhaps more importantly, it was an indication that Congress is not ready to stop bickering. And Obama’s calling on lawmakers to behave differently is also an acknowledgement that, like his predecessor, he has not significantly changed the partisan tone of Washington.
And we therefore return to the key pre-speech question: Why did he give it? It is even more curious now, given that he did not formally toss the public option under the bus, and if anything, ramped up the partisanship. At best it was an effort to stem the panic on the Left and show how “tough” Obama is. (Hence, the angry tone and excessive shouting.) But a speech isn’t governance, and the people don’t want government running their health care. So not much is different today.