How was President Obama’s town hall meeting on healthcare yesterday?
According to the AP headline and its story about it, his performance was thin gruel.
Emotion, few details, in Obama’s health care pitch (headline)
…The health care changes that Obama called for Wednesday would reshape the nation’s medical landscape. He says he wants to cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, to persuade doctors to stress quality over quantity of care, to squeeze billions of dollars from spending.
But details on exactly how to do those things were generally lacking in his hour-long town hall forum before a friendly, hand-picked audience in a Washington suburb.
But The Washington Post called his performance “wonkish.”
President Obama offered a wonkish defense of his embattled health-care reform effort during an hour-long town hall meeting in Northern Virginia yesterday that featured seven questions, including one sent via Twitter and several from a handpicked audience of supporters.
…One Twitter user asked whether it makes sense to tax people’s health-care coverage as a way to pay for reform. That led Obama to offer a long explanation of the various financing proposals, including his own for limiting deductions for the wealthy.
Why do reporters try to signal us how we should feel about the information they are imparting? As Jack Webb (as those of you old enough to remember his TV detective persona) might say, “Just the fact, ma’am.”
The Post reporters, Mike Shear and Jose Antonio Vargas, seemed particularly judgmental today.
With the president’s health-care ambitions meeting a cool reception on Capitol Hill, the administration is increasingly seeking to pressure lawmakers with evidence of the public’s desire for action as well as proof that the health-care industry is a stakeholder in — not an opponent of — the effort.
“Meeting a cool reception”? How do they judge that? As best I can tell, the principal tenants of Obama’s outline are still in tact, including the public option. Are there challenges to it? Yes, but principally from the marginalized GOP. There are a few Democratic senators who are balking, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said all along that her chamber’s healthcare plan will include a public option. And now the Senate is moving in that direction.
What’s so cool about that?
This comes after Media Matters objected to a characterization of the effectiveness of a public plan by Post health reporter Ceci Connolly.
[Interim chief executive of Change Congress Adam] Green, in an interview, was hard-pressed to articulate a substantive argument for the public plan [emphasis added] but said that it "has become a proxy for the question of Democrats who stand on principle and represent their constituents."
As Green articulated in his own post about the interview, he wasn’t asked about the benefits of a public plan.
If Green’s recollection of the interview is correction and given today’s characterization of the debate in Congress, one must ask if The Post has a chip on its shoulder about the plan.
There’s nothing cool about that.
Trying to characterize the entire debate in Congress about Obama’s outline – which is not a detailed plan – is a fool’s errand. And Post reporters are no fools.
So what’s the beef?