All we need to know to know that tax reform will be a prominent part of the president’s speech tonight is that Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, will be in a box with the First Lady. Bosanek says she couldn’t sleep last night because she’s so excited — even though she knows she’ll have to wake up in time for a dawn flight tomorrow morning to be sure to report to work on time.
Bosanek isn’t the only interesting guest on the list, though. The First Lady has also extended invitations to: Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs; outgoing Rep. Gabby Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly; and Adam Rapp, a cancer survivor that the Obama administration says was helped by Obamacare.
Obama will likely touch on something relevant to each of these guests: about efforts to stimulate technological innovation, for example; about what we learned from the Tucson shooting and the incredible story of Giffords’ recovery, perhaps; about the effectiveness of Obamacare, assuredly.
That’s not unusual; every president since Reagan has used guests to illustrate important points in his addresses. Personal anecdotes are always an effective way of touting a particular stance on an issue. Plus, they serve as an important reminder that policy matters because persons matter. Mentions of these guests — even if they’re misleading about the overall effects of Obama’s policies — will at least enliven a speech that otherwise promises to be dully divisive.