Re: Health Care: Hitting the Re-Set Button

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Following up on Karen’s excellent post on President Obama forthcoming address to a joint session of Congress on health care reform. Obama has always fallen back on his rhetorical gifts – and, generally, it has worked, even when Rev. Wright looked to doom his campaign. Next Wednesday he will again give what will surely be an inspirational speech. But the court here is not just of public opinion – though he has problems there enough. Congress is a place where 535 members constantly stand up on the House and Senate floors and give inspiration speeches. But no one- save the diehard CSPANers – is listening: the chambers are almost always empty. Long gone is Mr. Smith’s Washington where legislators take note, and are swayed, by passionate oratories. Congress requires twisting arms behind closed doors, an enforcer to knock heads together: someone who will lock himself in a room for 20 hours with the relevant members and emerge bill in hand. The real question isn’t what Obama will say Wednesday night, it’s what kind of hands-on role he’ll take in the negotiations and thus far the problem’s been he’s not been doing nearly enough.