On Obama's Big Day, Advice Abounds
By Ben Pershing
Is the 233rd day of Barack Obama's presidency the most important one yet?
Given that he is less than a quarter of the way through his first term, Obama has had quite a few big moments already -- the economic stimulus bill, foreign speeches and summits, the auto bailout and more. But tonight's address to Congress represents the most crucial hour yet in Obama's fight for his signature legislative initiative. The Los Angeles Times dubs this "a crucial moment" that could allow Obama "to reassert his grip on a political apparatus that soon will determine whether his agenda succeeds or fails." The Boston Globe says tonight's speech is one "the president and his advisers see as crucial to regaining influence over a debate that in recent weeks has been defined largely by the president's critics." And Politico writes that "one of the main pillars of Obama's reputation -- that his gift for healing words would combine with the power of his biography to transcend the rancor of modern politics -- has never looked more wobbly."
Most analyses agree that there are two paramount questions about tonight's speech: What will Obama say about the public option? And what tone will he strike toward Republicans -- conciliatory or defiant? Maureen Dowd calls on Obama to adopt a feistier tone: "He can live long and prosper by being less Spocky and more Rocky." Steven Pearlstein offers advice not echoed by many others, that Obama can succeed tonight "not only by laying down the moral and economic imperative of health-care reform but by coming clean on some of the tradeoffs that will be necessary in achieving it." Is now the time to call for real sacrifice? Roll Call notes how much has changed since Obama addressed Congress Feb. 24, when the new president, "his popularity high and his followers feverishly enthusiastic -- was free to offer soaring rhetoric and lay out general goals and expectations for the coming year."
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