A video gloss on Ed’s post earlier responding point by point to Obama’s … “plan,” I guess you’d call it? “Framework”? “Outline”? Let’s call it an outline of a framework of a plan. Beyond the obligatory calls for wringing the fat from defense spending and taxing the inexhaustible rich, which even some big media sources openly acknowledge won’t solve anything, his central idea is to somehow control health-care spending, presumably by performing the Jedi mind trick on doctors coast to coast to get them to lower costs. Either that or, as Time admits, he’s probably talking about rationing, although he was so (deliberately) vague that even they’re not completely sure. No matter, though: It’s silly, frankly, for any of us to be parsing this speech as though these were earnest policy proposals. If he gave a shinola about deficits and long-term fiscal instability, he would have said all this a month ago when he rolled out his embarrassing 2012 budget. He’s only saying it now because Ryan and Boehner forced the issue with their own budget, which put him on the spot vis-a-vis independents ahead of his reelection campaign. In that sense, this speech reminds me of his race speech from the 2008 campaign: That one was also dressed up by his team as an example of a serious guy boldly tackling a weighty national subject, but there as here, he only spoke up because he was in a bind politically (thanks to the momentary media frenzy over Rev. Wright) and needed to get out of it. He would have much preferred to have avoided the subject entirely, and no doubt he would have had the sharpening contrast with Ryan not exposed his total abdication of leadership on this subject. That’s what you do, see, when you’re the “adult in the room.”
So yes, it’s quite true that the new framework-outline-plan isn’t remotely equal to the immense challenge ahead, but it isn’t intended to be. It’s intended to get him reelected by convincing just enough low-information (read: stupid) independent voters that Paul Ryan doesn’t much care if their grandmothers starve. Speaking of which, in lieu of an exit quotation, go look at the “Obama, then and now” comparison that Jake Tapper dug up. Ever above the fray, O actually took care to say of Republicans near the end of today’s speech that “I believe [they] are sincere about wanting to do the right thing for our country.” How you square that with the quote highlighted by Tapper, I have no idea. Click the image to watch.