If you watched SNL during the Will Ferrell years, you already know the answer to this question. Actually, if The One’s fated to have a power outage strike his rhetorical life-support machine, tonight would be the perfect time. He’s already delivered 28 separate speeches devoted exclusively to health care; if you include speeches where he touched on the subject, the number’s 121. His arguments long ago reached the level of rote shtick, interrupted periodically by bizarre digressions about how we need to address the threat of doctors performing unnecessary amputations. So drearily familiar are the talking points by now that I figure it can’t have taken Geraghty more than three minutes, tops, to put this together. Holman Jenkins, writing at the Journal, has the act down so cold that he’s even anticipated the schmaltzy Kennedy-echo applause lines:
We may not get there right away. But by taking these steps, we will bring closer the day when the only form of health care for most Americans will be government-provided health care, and the dream will never die. (Pandemonium among Democrats. Nancy Pelosi daubs her eye.)
Give TOTUS the night off. Pericles should be able to stutter his way through “The time to act is now” on his own.
An interesting question via Karl to mull while you watch: Who, exactly, is the intended audience for this speech? It won’t do much to move Congress, the public’s heard most of it before, and the one truly newsworthy possibility before him — demanding the public option in the final bill — ain’t happening. I think he’s aiming it squarely at the media. The only constituency he can rely on to have an O-gasm over tonight’s “historic moment” is the press; presumably he figures that if they slobber over him enough, that’ll create a “comeback” narrative that will sway undecideds and give him back some momentum. Which means that the success or failure of the most ambitious statist program of the century rests on how bad-ass Obama can manage to look while saying “Yes we can” or whatever. Fitting. Click the image to watch.
Update: I swear I hadn’t seen this NBC post before I wrote the Pericles line.