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Obama Earns Praise, but Debate Unchanged

By Ben Pershing
The biggest day so far of President Obama's tenure is over, giving way to two questions: Was his address to a joint session of Congress worth giving, and how will it impact the health-care debate going forward?

Vice President Biden was certainly a fan, saying this morning that the speech had "re-centered debate" and making a prediction on timing: "I believe we will have a bill before Thanksgiving." The bar for success was high but expectations weren't in some quarters. Marc Ambinder judges that "by calming down his own party -- without alienating moderates -- and by making a moral case for health care, he has unsettled the status quo," and that might just be good enough. No one expected Obama to turn the issue entirely on its head last night, given that the contours of his plan and the broader debate have been known for months.

Taken, as always, with a grain of salt, the CNN/Opinion Research snap poll found a 14-point gain in favor of Obama's proposals among those who watched the speech. Afterwards, 67 percent of viewers supported the plan Obama laid out and 29 percent opposed, though CNN observed (cue the ominous music): "Those figures are almost identical to a poll conducted immediately after Bill Clinton's health care speech before Congress in September, 1993." Noting the same, Dan Balz writes, "Obama's key to success is to use the space created by this moment to drive Congress, particularly his Democratic allies, toward consensus and action. The longer the debate continues, the more his gains from the speech will dissipate."

Continue reading at Political Browser »

By Ben Pershing  |  September 10, 2009; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Obama clearly hit the right notes on the speech and gave moderates and the skeptical public everything they needed to at least grudgingly accept that reform is vital and the president’s agenda is far from radical. But will this effect show in the polls and in the broader public dialogue? Nail-biting times for the White House…

Posted by: parkerfl1 | September 10, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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