4:48PM I’m watching Fox News tonight, instead of the usual CNN. Why? Because DirecTV makes it easy to remember FNC (Channel 360, get it?), but CNN (Channel 2…something) not so much. We’re 12 minutes out, and I’m in desperate need of a second martini. Back momentarily.
4:48PM Oh, and all times Pacific, it seems.
4:49PM Also liveblogging, Dr. Melissa Clouthier. She tells me she might be drinking. Or wishes she was. Or something.
4:53PM Yes, you can already read the bulk of the President’s remarks online. But that’s cheating, and I won’t do it. But I will go pour that second martini now.
4:58PM Juan Williams says President Obama won’t “focus on the nitty gritty.” In other news, I won’t be focusing on club soda with a twist of lemon.
5:01PM OK, here’s one tiny little early preview for you: “It’s all
Bush’s the Republicans’ Blue Dog Democrats’ Oops, can’t say that the Republicans’ fault.”
5:02PM The President is on.
5:03PM “We’ve saved jobs! We can’t count them, but trust us!”
5:04PM The US isn’t prepared to compete in the 21st Century? How many more industries do we need to nationalize before we’re ready to compete in the 19th?
5:05PM I still don’t get where this guy has the nerve to say that he’s going to save money on anything, and reduce the deficit by one thin dime. Has he not seen his own waste, fraud, and red ink?
5:05PM “How does my family benefit?” We’re working on it. Now sit down and shut up.
5:06PM Now as I understand it, the “public option” will dictate what the private options must offer, and how much they must charge. So how do I keep my existing coverage again?
5:06PM “Primarily for the richest Americans.” The word “primarily” is new, yes?
5:07PM Oh, so I benefit because I’ll get a crappy plan, but my neighbor up the hill in the better neighborhood will pay for it.
5:08PM Eliminate Medicare waste! That’s fine. So why not start there?
5:08PM When you hear a politician bemoaning the horse race aspect of politics, it’s because he’s losing the argument.
5:09PM “I have great coverage.” Fine, Mr. President. Then either YOU take OUR public option, or give US your coverage. Mmmkay?
5:10PM “We will pass reform that does four contradictory things.” Or at least that’s what I heard him say.
5:10PM Now, the press gets its turn.
5:11PM First question boiled down to: Where’s the leadership?
And then there was talk about premiums.
5:11PM Other advanced countries don’t eat quite so many Chee-Tohs, Mr. President.
5:12PM First impression: He’s talking details and numbers. This is lousy salesmanship. Health care ain’t double-pane windows, Mr. President.
5:14PM And, he’s still selling this as a tax-the-rich scheme. But the numbers don’t add up, even according to the CBO.
5:15PM “Waste in the system?” Dude, in government programs, that’s a feature, not a bug.
5:16PM “If we don’t change, we can’t expect a different result.” OK, fine. Since government has been driving up prices, let’s have less of that instead of more. Just sayin’.
5:17PM More bad salesmanship: Telling folks they won’t get “five different tests.” Most people want the damn tests.
5:18PM From Reuters: “Why the rush?… Will support collapse?”
5:18PM He’s rushed because he gets letters. Is anyone buying this?
5:19PM “The default position is inertia.” It’s Newtonian politics! Only without the math!
5:20PM “I’m not going to sign a bill that adds to the deficit.” Well, that would be a really nice change from the last six months.
5:22PM He keeps talking about “health care inflation.” But inflation is when the same dollars buy you less, or more dollars buy you the same stuff. Isn’t health care improving every year? If we dial back prices, won’t we be dialing back care?
5:23PM From someone: “Is this going to cover all 47 million uninsured?” Answer: “I want to cover everybody. The truth is…” And then Obama bemoans the fact that some people won’t want to pay. Why not just tax the bastards, eh? Oh, wait…
5:24PM Just think: Mountain and Western time zones are watching this pre-primetime, because NBC finds Susan Boyle more attractive than Barack Obama.
5:25PM Follow-up: “Isn’t this a fight inside the Democratic party?”
5:26PM Answer: Dude, Republicans, suck, right? Entire Press Corps: [Nodding enthusiastically.]
5:28PM Jake Tapper: “Experts say… there is going to have to be some sacrifice…”
5:29PM Answer: “They’re going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier.” Just like with public schools, EVERY FREAKING GODDAMN DOLLAR goes to education. Or, you know, maybe not so much.
5:30PM Blue pill? Red pill? Is this The Matrix or Dr. Suess?
5:33PM “The American people are understandably queasy about the deficit… trillions here, trillions there…” and then more talk about the Republicans. You know what? Last weekend, Obama explicitly said “give it to me” on responsibility for the economy. I know his promises have an expiration date, but couldn’t that one have made it until, I don’t know, Friday?
5:34PM I saved almost two billion dollars on defense yesterday! So gimme 300 billion for health care, mmmkay?
5:35PM “We inherited…” Please see my 5:33 comment.
5:36PM Dude Who Looks Like a Younger, Soberer Chris Hitchens: “What kind of pain… are you calling on beneficiaries to make?”
5:38PM Clever. On the sacrifice question, Obama started talking about Republican-approved reforms. The buck stops… to the right.
5:39PM Blonde Lady: “Are you fulfilling your promised on transparency?”
5:39PM Answer: “We have a lot of meetings.”
5:41PM Brunette Lady with the Brady Bunch Part: “Would you support a fee on risky activities?”
5:42PM Answer: We’re going to enact a 4.6% surcharge on the incomes of people who get drunk and have unprotected sex with strangers. Or with cloven-hooved animals.
5:43PM There’s a chance I’m drunk, but I swear I just heard Obama say he was going to tax stuff until the economy starts to grow again.
5:45PM Oh, my — Obama just said that the solution to government-created moral hazards is to impose more government. I need another drink, stat.
5:46PM The Stapler Guy from Office Space: “Can you promise… the government will not deny any coverage… and will you and Congress abide by the public option?”
5:47PM Answer: The Dude will “largely abide.”
5:48PM “With regulation, there will be improvement.” Sometimes, all I have to do is quote.
5:49PM Government is going to “make sure there’s some competition out there” by homogenizing coverage and prices.
5:50PM Oh my god. He’s still talking. He’s supposed to be nudging nervous Democrats back into the Reform camp. Instead, he’s… hearing himself talk. I can’t wait to see what Mickey Kaus has to say about this later.
5:52PM That Jewish Dude from “The West Wing” Shaved Off His Beard: “[Mumbles incoherently about some clinic]”
Answer: Hold the Mayo.
5:53PM “Getting the politics out of health care” by having politicians take over health care. The mind — and the liver — boggles.
5:53PM I missed the last question, because there was this lady old enough to think that wearing a bright red dress would get President Reagan to call on her, said something, and then there was joking about where Obama lives.
5:55PM I have a couple of very nicely-marbled strips to grill, and a great big Cab Sauv to open. Is this thing over yet? Please? Pretty please?
5:56PM Our black president is telling me that “race haunts us.” Dude, it’s not your race, it’s your ideology. Mmmkay?
5:57PM Final thought: In high school, I once spent an entire weekend trying to get this girl to unsnap the button fly on my 501s. That was less frustrating than tonight’s press conference.
5:59PM Juan Williams calls it “a lost opportunity” and doesn’t expect the August deadline to be met.
Or as we say on the internets: EPIC FAIL.