History Repeats Itself

A President, intent on socializing the American Health Care System goes to Congress for a very rare Joint Session of Congress. Normally, Presidential addresses to Joint Sessions of Congress occur only for States of the Union or first time visits. But this, like the attack on September 11th, 2001, which prompted George W. Bush to convene and speak to a Joint Session, is a unique circumstance. There is a health care crisis in American.

He has a 1,000+ page bill. Americans are skeptical. But Democrats control both Houses of Congress.

No, I’m not talking about Barack Obama this coming September 9, 2009. I’m talking about Bill Clinton on September 22, 1993. This is history repeating itself. Only history is repeating itself as a bookend.

As Major Garrett notes, Clinton spoke at the beginning of the debate hoping to frame the narrative. Polling at the time suggested Clinton actually did move some numbers as the debate began. Now, though, Barack Obama is going to Congress after several bitter floor and committee fights followed by a raucous month at home with constituents while Obama was out on vacation.

Doug Schoen, who took over polling for Clinton after the GOP landslide that propelled them to leadership of the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years, says the last thing this debate needs is another Obama speech.

“I think he’s out of touch with what he needs to do,” Schoen said. “I don’t think he needs another speech. I don’t think it’s a question of oration. I think it’s a question of the bill, the agreement, showing presidential leadership in getting the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and their leadership, to the White House to hammer out an agreement that works in the interest of the American people.”

White House officials say Obama will be more specific about what he wants. But, they caution, he won’t be too specific. They cannot say, for example, if Obama will rule out the government-funded entry into private insurance known as the public option.

A significant problem for Obama is that there already exists legislation and it is legislation he has blessed. If he backtracks now and throws members of Congress under the bus, he will foster ill will among his congressmen. If he pushes forward with the present plan, he will be out of step with the American public. In either case, we can see more and more that a silver tongue and a fully armed and operational teleprompter are no substitute for leadership.

As I said earlier today, when President Bush convened a Joint Session outside of the normal time parameters, it was because of an act of international terrorism.

Barack Obama is doing the same because of tea party activists and concerned senior citizens, all of whom his political machine, Organizing for America, has labeled “right-wing domestic terrorists.” Really. Barack Obama’s political machine did, in fact, label the tea party activists and concerned senior citizens as domestic terrorists.

Now he will reap his harvest of discontent.