Even on health care, where President Obama was trying to assume a posture of humility -- "I take my share of blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people" -- the effect was off-putting. The problem on health care isn't that Mr. Obama is insufficiently clear, or not a good enough explainer. It's that not even the spectacularly silver-tongued president himself can convince the American people that it's a good idea to pass a 2,000-page bill laden with special favors for Nebraskans or union members or public employees, or that it's possible for the government to save $1 trillion by giving health insurance coverage to 40 million more people. The president's formulation last night is insulting to those skeptical of ObamaCare; it makes them sound like dense students who, if they had only had a teacher who could explain quadratic equations to them more clearly, might not have flunked math. Mr. Obama thinks the problem with ObamaCare was a failure of spin. It's like GM saying if we only had better commercials we could sell more cars. The problem isn't the commercials, it's the cars.
Second, Seth Lipsky should get some kind of retroactive Pulitzer for all those Raymond Joseph columns he published in the New York Sun. They mocked him at the time, but there was Ambassador Joseph of Haiti, my former New York Sun colleague, seated directly behind Michelle Obama in the First Lady's box, during the State of the Union address, in the same seat that my old friend and source Ahmad Chalabi sat in behind Laura Bush during one of President Bush's State of the Union addresses. Anyway, as much as I disliked President Obama's speech, I found Ambassador Joseph's presence, as I did Mr. Chalabi's, an amazing and inspiring and actually hopeful reminder of the influence that ordinary, flesh-and-blood individuals can have on the course of history.