“Can you lull a nation into trying something new by being detailed, dull, and earnest?” asked Jill Lawrence in Politics Daily. That seemed to be President Obama’s plan at his health-care news conference Wednesday night. Wearing various hats—“Dr. Obama,” Professor Obama, economist, “avoider,” partisan—he talked a lot and in great detail about health care. But his “one-hour tutorial” boiled down to this: Change is scary, but doing nothing will be worse.
“I’d be surprised if the president changed any minds” with his “juvenile happy talk” about getting change for cheap, said Bill Kristol in The Washington Post. Obama says that if there's a blue pill and a red one that do the same thing, we should use the cheaper one. "Why hasn’t anyone else thought of that? For this reform, we need to spend $1 trillion?"
The "real" issue here, said Timothy Noah in Slate, is whether Bill Kristol and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., will succeed in their attempt "to exploit a partisan opportunity to damage Obama’s presidency.” But for Obama, “what’s real is that 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day.” Let’s hope the “reality-based community” sides with Obama.
The reality is that the money for this has to come from somewhere, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune, and the “one non-negotiable position” Obama staked—that the middle class shouldn’t primarily shoulder the costs—is “exactly the wrong one.” Why shouldn’t they? The middle class pays for most of Social Security and Medicare. We can’t expect both “a free lunch” and a good health-care plan.
Actually, Obama’s candidness about the costs and tradeoffs was “the most striking thing” about the event, said Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic. It took “a little bravery” to tell increasingly skeptical Americans that they and their doctors need to become more “discriminating” health-care consumers and cut out unnecessary care. He chose to “speak to America like adults tonight”—we’ll see how America responds.