Health-Care Speech Set, Details to Come
By Ben Pershing
What was only theoretical yesterday morning is reality today, as President Obama now has firm plans to address a joint session of Congress on health care next Wednesday night. But while the schedule may now be clear, the substance isn't yet.
Is it possible that the centerpiece of Obama's "new strategy" is simply selling the public -- and, more importantly, the press -- on the idea that there is a new strategy? The New York Times reports that administration aides said Obama "would be more specific than he has been to date about what he wants included in the plan" but is "unlikely to unveil a detailed legislative plan of his own." David Axelrod, the public face of this strategy shift, said listeners to Obama's speech would get "a clear sense of what he proposes and what health care reform is not." Does that mean much of the address will again involve knocking down "myths" about death panels and the like? Beyond the public insurance option, will Obama rule anything else in or out next week?
It's not surprising that the White House is unwilling to telegraph exactly what Obama is going to say a week before the address. It's likely that Obama himself doesn't know yet what he's going to say; reportedly, he only just decided Tuesday to speak to Congress instead of holding a prime-time press conference or an Oval Office address. But the administration does risk setting itself up for failure, raising expectations for a fresh-sounding speech laden with specifics that could end up being dismissed by reporters -- who have been covering health care nonstop for months -- as nothing new or special.
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Posted at 8:30 AM ET on Sep 3, 2009
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