03 Sep 2009 Don’t Give the Speech, Mr. President
I issued a call to the President to drop his planned address on health care to a joint session of Congress earlier today. I suggested that the President instead meet with Congress in a Q&A session similar to Britain’s “Prime Minister’s Questions” in the House of Commons.
I did this because I believe another lecture by the President will get us (as a nation) no where. We’ve heard all his pretty words. Now we need to hear words that have specific, tightly-definable meaning. I doubt the President’s teleprompter will provide him with that, but I think there’s some chance that Members of Congress (assuming they don’t get all tongue-tied because they are in the presence of the President, that is), given the chance to ask questions with followups, could get some specifics out of him.
I make no bones about the fact that I don’t want an expansion of government-run health care in the United States. I’ll be straightforward: I’m betting the President would muck up a genuine Q&A (especially if followups were permitted) and help defeat his own plan. but if I’m wrong about his abilities, I also think such a Q&A is his best chance to move his ball forward.
The President has gone as far as he can with charm, and charm is all he’s going to be able to give us from the podium in front of Congress. A tour de force while engaging Congress in a specific, detailed way, however, would win him some support — maybe enough to win the day for his side.
But, as I say, I’m betting he doesn’t have it in him. Another show in front of the podium is his safe choice, and it is overwhelmingly likely that that’s the one he’s going to take.
For those interested, the full text of my statement earlier today can be found here.