Praise Keeps Rolling In for Obama's Health Care Address

Two Times reporters compare Obama's address to Congress with his speech about his pastor Jeremiah Wright, which the Times praised as the second coming of Lincoln.

The praise just keeps rolling in for Obama's health care speech. In Adam Nagourney's Thursday "news analysis," "Making the Case for Leadership, Not Just Health Care Legislation," the paper's chief political correspondent argued the importance of Obama's health care address to Congress in showing he was not "another Jimmy Carter...a micromanager who perhaps was not ready to be the nation's chief executive."

By Naguorney's lights, Obama's address was a clear triumph.

For nearly an hour, Mr. Obama spoke strongly and passionately, pausing only to acknowledge the repeated cheers from his audience as he made what appeared to be his clearest and most concise case yet on a complicated issue that had repeatedly defied his communications skills.

He managed to invest his case with both economic and emotional urgency - particularly when he invoked the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose widow, Victoria, was in the audience - without getting bogged down in too many details.


Mr. Obama is most engaged when his back is to the wall, typically after a period of drift. Again and again throughout his career, he has risen to the occasion: The November 2007 speech at a dinner of Democrats in Iowa that put him on the road to victory there, his speech that defused the controversy over racially charged remarks by his onetime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., even the speech he gave to Democrats at the 2004 convention in Boston that elevated him to fame.

Reporter Alessandra Stanley's "TV Watch" column also praised Obama's race speech (which the Times praised as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln) and came to the same conclusion as Nagourney - that Obama hithis health care addressout of the park: "On Brink, Obama Is Resolute And Clear."

Mr. Obama spoke bluntly and confidently, with his trademark professorial lilt and phrases like "Let me be clear," but also with honed purpose and more defiance and determination than he has in recent weeks. After invoking the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Obama closed with a passionate, eloquent appeal for common ground....In short, the president tried to do for his health care plan what he did for his candidacy when the issue of race, and the words of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., threatened to derail his presidential bid last year.

That speech, too, was a high-wire act. At a moment that even some of his supporters considered late, Mr. Obama delivered a disquisition - reassuring and dazzling - on the complexity of race relations in the United States.