I thought President Obama sounded stronger and more convincing in his afternoon rally in Elkhart, Ind., than in his Monday night press conference, but he made some crucial points nonetheless. My favorite moment came at the end, when he put the smackdown on GOP lies that they weren't consulted about the deficit-busting recovery bill:
"Just in terms of the historic record here: The Republicans were brought in early and were consulted. Remember when we introduced our framework: They were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cuts that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there! I suppose what I could have done was I could have started out with no tax cuts, knowing I was gonna want some, and maybe that's the lesson I should have learned. But there was consultation ...
"It's a little hard for me to take criticism from folks of this recovery package, after they presided over a doubling of the national debt. I'm not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility."
No, President Obama, they don't. That's why you shouldn't have started out compromising with them upfront, but you seem to have learned your lesson.
As always, I thought Obama took too long to make his points tonight. (He averaged seven minutes per question, according to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.) The upside of that: He sure is smart. Again, Obama didn't talk about what he'd like to see added to the bill before he signs it, but judging from his remarks today in Elkhart and tonight in Washington, I'd say he is likely to push to restore some kind of school construction funding and block-grant aid to states in the conference committee process.
Let's see what he says in Florida and Illinois later this week. There's still room for Obama to tighten his pitch and make his priorities crystal clear.