Memorable Moments During The Speech

Filed in National by on September 10, 2009

I’m going to tell you straight out that I thought that was one of the best speeches I’ve seen Obama give. He had a lot of goals to accomplish in the speech: reassure the wavering leftwing, make the case for reform, position himself as sensible and centrist, knock down misinformation and make the case for a public option. I think he was, amazingly able to achieve all these goals in just one speech. Obama also got a big assist from Rep. Joe Wilson of SC, who yelled out “you lie!” during the speech. What better way to show that Republicans are putting partisan politics ahead of what’s best for the country than to have them heckle the president? No wonder some Republicans were livid. Some moments stood out for me.

In making the case for reform, Obama had the following points:

  • Attempts to reform our health care system have been going on since Teddy Roosevelt, and the first comprehensive bill has been introduced by a Dingell every year since 1943.
  • Covering the uninsured is a $1000 tax on every insured American.
  • The costs of health care are a long term deficit problem.
  • I thought Obama’s most clever moment was skillfully positioning his plan as the pragmatic, sensible, centrist plan and that the plans of the far left (single payer) and far right (HSAs only) were radical changes to the health care system. Obama’s plan, in his words, uses the best parts of the current system and strengthens them. He also did a good job in selling that as already bipartisan, since he used ideas from Republicans like McCain.

    Obama twisted the knife in the Republicans a little bit:

    Add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years – less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration.

    That was a fist-pumping YES! moment from me.

    But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.

    Yes, call them out! Ahem – Sarah Palin

    Obama did a good job in explaining the public option, but those of you who read the blog regularly already understand the public option. The best part of the speech was Obama’s defense of liberalism, in my opinion.

    That large-heartedness – that concern and regard for the plight of others – is not a partisan feeling. It is not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character. Our ability to stand in other people’s shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand. A belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgement that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.

    I think this is a continuation of what he started in his inauguration speech, a defense of liberalism.

    But that’s not what the moment calls for. That’s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.

    Change, baby, change!

    And, finally, my favorite line from the speech:

    I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.

    Tags: ,

    About the Author ()

    Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

    Comments (17)

    Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

    1. pandora says:

      I loved the speech, and I was nervous going in. Seriously, why do I worry? Did I learn nothing through the primary and general election?

    2. delacrat says:


      I’m for for Single-Payer. So why does that make me “far left” and “radical” ??

      Both my parents are on Single-Payer Medicare.

      Trust me, they ain’t far left or radical.

    3. wikwox says:

      Obama is the best public speaker, the most articulate president we’ve had in decades. It was a great speech and unified and defined the Democrats. Even better Joe Wilson from South Carolina made a fool of himself and his party. Sweeeet!

    4. Delacrat,

      I don’t think single-payer is radical at all. It’s what Medicare is and what most of the rest of the world has. What I thought was interesting is in how Obama positioned himself. One thing I haven’t seen too often is the right’s position being called out as radical and a big change. Obama did that, and I think that was very important. Obama didn’t just play kick the hippies. I also think it accomplished a goal in taking away a Republican talking point, which is that Obama is pushing a radical change and can’t we take time to get it right.

    5. Perry says:

      My response is much like yours, UI.

      So yes, it definitely was an excellent speech, a memorable one, one which would have been less effective if given before the summer break. We needed to see the Republican fringe behaving in such a vile, negative manner, to which Obama’s speech comes over in contrast as a huge positive, as a breath of fresh air finally, as a clear explanation of the specifics of this health care reform initiative.

      One part I really liked was at the end when he quoted from the Kennedy letter:

      ” ‘At stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country,’ ” the president said, quoting the letter that Kennedy wrote in May and asked to be delivered after his death.

      “I’ve thought about that phrase quite a bit in recent days — the character of our country,” Obama said to the hushed chamber. “One of the unique and wonderful things about America has always been our self-reliance, our rugged individualism, our fierce defense of freedom and our healthy skepticism of government.” ….

      “When fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand,” the president said, citing “a belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgment that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.”

      This is the statement of a moral imperative that derives from our core American traditional values, one which should hit home with any American, independent of party affiliation.

    6. nooneimportant says:

      Am I remembering correctly, that at the beginning of the summer it was $3 trillion over 10 years? Did he just further reduce the cost of this program to $900 Billion over 10 years? They figured out a way to make it even cheaper, but you know that’s not what the neo-conservatives will pick up on.

    7. cassandra_m says:

      I think I was most impressed by the part that Perry highlighted — and impressed with the overall tone. No nonsense, reaching out, but not willing to compromise principle and not willing to concede to the crazy.

    8. No, it was never $3T. The upper number I saw was $1.2T. The Iraq war cost $3T, over less than 10 years. Surely if we can pay for the Iraq war, we can spare some money for the American people.

    9. mike w. says:

      Funny to hear Obama talk about healthy skepticism of government and then have him want us to trust him and the Congress on healthcare.

    10. mike w. says:

      Nooneimportant – Yes, Obama was throwing out random numbers last night. From the $900 billion pricetag, to the 30 million uninsured.

    11. Von Cracker says:

      funny about all that talk of skepticism of government and you’re still secure in the belief that the US military and police can properly protect your ass!

      your logic astounds, mike w.

    12. mike w. says:

      I am? Well that’s news to me, since I’ve never made any such assertion.

      Your logic astounds, Von Cracker.

    13. rhubard says:

      Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.

    14. shortstuff says:

      To everyone like Mike W., it’s a lie unless someone from the right says it… Did you even read H.R. 3200? Here’s news for you, if YOUR way worked, then WHY are we the country that spends the MOST on healthcare? Better yet, let me bring this down so that the lowest common denominator can understand this: Doing same thing=not working= insanity. Get it? Do your homework first and go google the fact that if we continue on this course, the country WILL go bankrupt.

      Here’s another thought for you since the right apparently doesn’t understand strategy so here’s a strategy… Be upstanding citizens and support a program that would cover every American. If it doesn’t work, we’ll know soon enough. We’ll say that the plan fails “horribly” downright bad, everyone loses everything! Well, then in the next election, it should be pretty easy for everyone to decide, right? It’ll be a Republican landslide all across the board. Your party takes over and then your party can write a bill that completely changes it back to whatever your heart desires. That’s the beauty of a democracy, change can happen.

      What you and your party fail to see or are to blind to see is that it’s time for a change in what we’re doing. It’s no longer “patriotic” to let millions of Americans die every year because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. That is a SIN even with your god. Wait, wait a minute, I can hear it already “But Obama is going to destroy the American way of life”… Ummm, yea I don’t see any difference in how I live vs. 8 years ago. What I do see is the hatred and vileness that is being spewed is not helping anyone and is only creating a bigger divide in the country.

      Oh and in case you’re NOT counting which I’m sure you’re not, look at your 401K or your portfolio, mine looks pretty good in comparison to where we were about 9-10 months ago. Gas prices are about 1/2 of where they were last year and the job loss numbers are dropping to an all time low in over a year. So all in all, I’m counting this in terms that you can easily understand: Barack/Dems 21 Repubs/Hate 0. It’s only the 1st quarter and you haven’t gained any yardage and you just had another 3 and out series.

    15. pandora says:

      Ha! They aren’t even on the field, shortstuff – they’re Booleaders.

    16. X Stryker says:

      Funny to hear Obama talk about healthy skepticism of government and then have him want us to trust him and the Congress on healthcare.

      If you trust your insurance company more, I have some bridge insurance to sell ya, great deal. Although if the bridge ever collapses, your policy will be null and void.

    17. That’s right shortstuff. The Republicans had 6 years to put into place their version of health care reform and failed to do so. In fact, things got a whole lot worse under their governance.

      I know the Republicans like to pretend that things got bad on January 20, 2009 but we’re still feeling the effects of the policies pursued by Bush and the Republicans.