Lots of people are talking about this assertive – nee, aggressive – language from Barack Obama in yesterday’s weekly address:
I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:
So am I.
The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I’ll be fighting for in the weeks ahead…
Hey – I like it, but my first thought, after a campaign in which Obama repeatedly left attacks on the table, was “why now?”.
Because now was when he really needed to set the frame, and he did.
I mentioned after Obama’s non-SOTU SOTU my feeling that Obama was the great vaccinator:
He certainly has a genius for painting his opposition into a small and uncomfortable corner, and pre-empting the attacks that he knows are coming.
And now, that corner is smaller. It’s not a new rhetorical trick, planting oneself on the side of angels in the battle against evil that is to come, but Obama’s plain, common-sense language, combined with the exasperation of so many in this country over how f*&ked up our country has become, has made that small and uncomfortable corner a tiny bit smaller and a lot less comfortable.
Barack Obama won the Presidency by counter-punching; now he’s showing he can swing first if that makes sense. We’ll find out if he’s right, but keeping in mind how often he’s played his cards perfectly over the past year or so, my guess is that the “small, uncomfortable corner” is about to get just a tiny bit less crowded.
And that’s all it will take.