Washington is gearing up for President Barack Obama’s first official State of the Union address and bloggers are trying to predict how the night will go.
TPM’s Brian Beutler calls tonight’s address “the X-Factor,” saying Obama’s comments could have a impact on continuing negotiations for health overhaul legislation, which Beutler reports are coalescing around one plan: “moving ahead with the Senate bill once it’s clear that it will be changed through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process.”
Ezra Klein says that many health overhaul supporters are waiting on the administration, and that Obama and his staff are conflicted about next steps:
The wild card in all of this is Obama himself. And the hope of many reformers is that the White House will play that card in tonight’s State of the Union. But as of last night, the language of the speech wasn’t finished, and no one seemed certain of where the president would finally come down. …But everyone agrees on one thing: Tonight’s speech is the most important of his young presidency, and it will be the most revealing of his career. Does he stand and fight for a health-care bill he believes to be a historic and necessary step forward? Or does he back away from it, letting some gestures toward his commitment to the issue stand in for the determined leadership — and the political gamble — that would represent real commitment to the issue?
Bob Laszewski predicts that Obama will “just jabber in a way no one can figure out which course he really supports.” However, Laszewski continues, “In my mind, the smart political move for Democrats is to call the Republicans out on their offers to be bipartisan by putting a deal on the table Republicans couldn’t refuse.”
Critical Condition’s David Grazter wonders which persona Obama will adapt for the speech:
Which Barack Obama will take the stage for tonight’s State of the Union Address? Will it be candidate Obama — with a return to his 2008 focus on affordable, bipartisan, sensible health-care reforms? Many Democratic activists are lobbying for the alternative: They hope President Obama will adopt a more combative approach that’s even more liberal than his 2009 persona. … If President Obama returns to his 2008 persona and seeks the bipartisan middle ground, there would be many winners, and few losers. You’d see a simple, cost-effective national market for health insurance, modeled on the benefits enjoyed by members of Congress.
Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum looks at media reports previewing the speech and laments, “This really doesn’t sound like good news. If Obama isn’t willing to step up and take ownership of passing the current plan, what chance is there that Congress is willing to get out on a limb and take the risk itself? Not much, I’m afraid. I sure hope Obama and his advisors screw up their courage on this and do the right thing before the end of the day.”
And the New America Foundation’s Joanne Kenen proclaims, “It’s time for President Obama to channel his inner Truman.”
Meanwhile, for the more casual observer, The Huffington Post and The Daily Caller (often billed as the conservative answer to HuffPo) both created drinking games to keep you occupied while awaiting any health care proclamations. Excerpt: “If Obama says ‘Bipartisan’ or ‘Bipartisanship,’ the back section of the bar yells ‘Yes,’ while the front section yells ‘No.’ Whichever side is louder should take a drink.” Or you can play “President Bingo” from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.