The photos from yesterday's White House press conference are mostly of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs making fun
of Sarah Palin--he wrote notes on his hand as she had for her Tea Party
convention speech. But the bigger story was that President Obama made a surprise visit--his first solo press conference since July. While some commentators debate whether the impromptu appearance was inspired by Washington Post and New York Times criticisms
, others are focusing on the message: bipartisanship and health care reform. Buried in there, are there
some anxiously awaited
clues about what the president intends regarding this millstone
- The Message: Friendly Full-Speed Ahead, decides Politico's Ben Smith.
"The message of the day seems to be a general openness to
bipartisanship, but he's still talking health care. The news that
Anthem Blue Cross was raising premiums in California 'is just a preview
of coming attractions,' he says."
- Little Legislative Momentum--This Is Pre-Cleanup Salon's Mike Madden
notes that one of Obama's priorities at the meeting was a jobs bill,
but Congress won't be able to vote on that, through a combination of
House recess and snowstorms, "until the week of Feb. 22 at the
earliest. In the end, the meeting Tuesday, and Obama's impromptu
presser, aren't likely to do much to actually move legislation along.
But the White House tone could help change voters' minds about who's to
blame if it stalls."
- Agreed: 'Bipartisanship' Is About Blame Andrew Malcolm
for the Los Angeles Times argues that all the talk of bipartisanship
coming out of the White House is merely to cover a "dirty, ...
elephantine secret of the current Washington circus ... : The Democrats
have controlled Congress since the 2006 elections." What does that
mean? Bipartisanship isn't actually necessary, "unless it's about
positioning for blame." So all the meetings with Republicans and talk
of bipartisanship at the press conference is just setting up a blame
route for the 2010 elections when voters complain about lack of
progress--which Malcolm suggests they may.
- President Backing Away from Universal Heath Care? Morgen
at Verum Serum points out that, when asked about health care, the
president mentioned only three goals: "control costs, implement some
new insurance industry regulations, and 'make health insurance more
available to folks in the individual market.'" They key there is that
the last part, Morgen argues, "seems to fall well short of the
President's original goal of universal coverage, and which could be
accomplished a number of ways other than having the federal government
pick up the bulk of the cost for the uninsured." Is this a step back? Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute agrees with Morgen that it might be. Does it make health care reform more feasible?
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
hhorn at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.