While the left celebrates President Barack Obama's full-court press for health care, the right feels differently about "all-Obama, all-the-time" network TV schedules.
To the right, it feels like having a pesky salesman shadow us through the store, constantly pestering us to buy something we don't want.
Obama is blitzing American TV. He'll follow-up last week's televised speech to Congress with appearances on Jay Leno, David Letterman, and five live network talk shows this weekend (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and Univision -- notably omitting FOX).
As noted on RealClearPolitics, "[T]he president's interviews will dominate the shows, leaving less time for the opposition to present their views."
Give President Obama credit for making a personal commitment to overhauling health care. He's determined to command center stage. While it was Kanye West, not Obama, who interrupted Taylor Swift's MTV Award, those who see a similarity could be forgiven.
The president remains eager to steal every microphone in sight, but what is his message? The same one that most Americans tell pollsters they are rejecting. From Rasmussen Reports: "One week after President Obama's speech to Congress, opposition to his health care reform plan has reached a new high of 55%. . . . just 42% now support the plan, matching the low first reached in August."
Obviously, Obama believes 42% is a big enough base on which to build, especially since his side has the home team advantage with a majority of both houses of Congress. His national speech laid out only fuzzy guidelines for reform... and they didn't match any bill pending in Congress. Rumors that the president would draft his own legislation -- finally giving specifics that could be scrutinized -- proved to be only rumors.
Obviously, he wants to avoid the fate of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). The Associated Press wrote that Baucus' bill, unveiled Wednesday, "tracks closely with the priorities Obama laid out in his speech to Congress last week." It was greeted with near-universal disapproval:
- Daily Kos dubbed it "The Baucus Debacle."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) deplored it as a "big, big tax" on the middle class
- "Baucus Bill Bust," said the HuffingtonPost
- Dr. Stuart Butler, Heritage Foundation pronounced it "badly flawed."
There was a lonely favorable voice heard, however: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called it, tepidly, "an important building block."
No wonder the president still balks at offering reform specifics. He would risk getting a worse response than Baucus. Instead of an actual plan, Obama will offer only a TV blitz -- a charm offensive designed to assure less detail-oriented voters that he cares for them and will improve their lives. "Trust me," is the condensed version of his message. Or at least half of the message.
The other half is attacking his opponents and falsely claiming that they offer no ideas to improve health care. In his speech to Congress, he accused them of "scare tactics," "partisan spectacle," "unyielding ideological camps," "misinformation," "bogus claims," and "a lie, plain and simple.'
In defending the outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson (R, S.C.), Rep. Mike Pence (R, Ind.) reminded the House: "You know, the Old Book tells us,'A harsh word stirs up anger.' Well, we might have seen a little bit of that last week. In the midst of a highly partisan speech by the President of the United States, Joe made a mistake."
On network talk shows, Obama will have neither the adoring audiences he's faced at his recent speeches to labor union crowds, nor the uncontrollable audience of Congress. He hopes to gloss over skeptical questions, much as a celebrity might when interviewed on "Access Hollywood."
Obama has displayed unlimited belief that politicians and bureaucrats can build better health care than the private sector can. He also shows an unlimited belief that his personal charm and persistence can overcome any resistance.
It's the audacity of hype.
Ernest Istook is recovering from serving 14 years in Congress and is now a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
First Appeared in Human Events