My NYULocal colleague Ned wrote the post about this for the site, so here are my thoughts:
It was a good speech. Perhaps a very good speech. This was certainly the best I’ve seen Obama in a long time – forceful, clear, and working the angles he needed to in order to wrestle the narrative back into the White House’s hands. He threw out some red meat for liberal Democrats, directly calling Republicans out on their lies and bringing up the Iraq War and “tax cuts for the wealthy.” He played to his “bipartisanship” strengths and may have made it much easier to point at the GOP as obstructionist, not populist. Yet, he offered concessions to the right as well – tort reform, an “open door” policy, and flexibility on the public option (Olympia Snowe looked happy). He also positioned himself as centrist by throwing Wyden-Bennett and single-payer under the bus – bad policy, but good politics.
There was no major policy shift – his plan largely tracks what’s already in the works. But he offered a plan. And he delivered the key policy points with much more clarity and with less professorial wonkery. I thought his Ted Kennedy segment at the end was very strong.
Will this change much? Maybe not public opinion, but I think the media narrative will swing pro-reform after the long, anti-reform August.