Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama invokes Ted Kennedy from the grave in health care appeal


WASHINGTON--President Obama¹s health care speech before a joint session of
Congress on Wednesday night was designed to appease critics on the left and
right, appeal to the folks in the middle who just don¹t want to go broke if
they get sick or find insurance impossible to buy because they have
pre-existing conditions, and calm nervous seniors who worry about their

The speech was a magnificent balancing act, with Obama looking for the deal,
telling the public that he¹s not going to sit around and let Congress do nothing.

"We will meet," Obama said at the end of the speech, "history¹s test."

The president --a former senator-- had been reluctant to weigh in very
heavily until now, preferring to let lawmakers do their thing, fearing a
replay of the Clinton-era health care reform push where Congress resented
the Clintons telling them what to do.

But Obama¹s team, concerned that there was a real chance Congress would do
nothing in the wake of heated, sometimes hysterical town halls this summer ‹
decided now was the time for Obama to use that bully pulpit of his.

In the high-stakes speech, Obama appealed to Democratic progressives to let
up on their insistence on what has ripened to be a deal killer: a public
insurance option. The progressives who threw themselves into Obama¹s
presidential campaign have been disappointed that Obama was not going to the
mat on this.

"To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving
idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make
coverage available for those without it. The public option ‹ the public
option is only a means to that end, and we should remain open to other ideas
that accomplish our ultimate goal," Obama pleaded.

"And to my Republican friends, I say that, rather than making wild claims
about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to
address any legitimate concerns you may have."

Obama tried to woo conservatives by embracing a catastrophic-coverage plan
proposed by Sen. John McCain. He threw a bone to Republicans who focus on
the medical malpractice issue by saying he would "today" direct his
administration to implement pilot tort reform programs crafted by the Bush White House.

A surprise message from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy --who is remembered for
making health care the "cause of my lifetime" in the form of a letter to
Obama to be read after he died let Obama wind up with an emotional appeal.

If the liberal lion could work across the aisle, so could everyone else.


Leave it to the Democrats to never squander the advantages of a well timed death. I thought it was inappropriate and sophomoric. But, the sophomores have taken over the government from the slow-witted geezers. What comes next? A toga party when the Democrat's health care plan gets rammed through?

Obama and Kennedy's tale of up from the grave he arose is as embarrassing as Joe Wilson. They all deserve one another. One has no couth and the others have no truth.

P.S. Would someone inform the media, that the word "healthcare," is one word, not two - health care.

It is a terrible shame that the tantrum of this no-name lout from South Carolina stepped on the night's two serious stories: Obama's refutations of the phony scare stories promulgated by the corporate-funded agitators during August; and Senator Ted Kennedy's final words to his fellow senators on the issue he worked on for fifty years.

What a pity that, by crowding Kennedy's letter out of the news, a hooligan such as Wilson was able to undermine Ted Kennedy's final service to his country.

What a disgrace it is that Wilson, a colonel in the reserves, violated Section 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice AND the House's own rules by his contemptible behavior. Knowing that the speech was getting world-wide coverage, what good does Wilson imagine he was doing our national image when he insulted the President on camera?

Is it more important to this slug that he get his fifteen minutes of fame, than it is for the world to see our President treated with respect and our legislators behaving with dignity?

And within 24 hours, Wilson was using this incident in a fund-raising letter, showing no remorse and continuing to publish his own falsehoods about the bill, absurd claims which have been debunked by every professional, neutral political analyst who has written about them. So much for the sincerity or truth of his mealy-mouthed "apology!"

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 9, 2009 10:51 PM.

Obama health care speech before joint session of Congress. Transcript was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama gets taunted "You lie" by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) at health care speech is the next entry in this blog.

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