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Reactions Vary on Obama’s News Conference

BY Admin  July 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

President Obama, Getty Images

The New York Times fact-checked claims made by the president on Wednesday night. While Mr. Obama said that doctors, nurses and groups representing hospitals support health care reform, the Times points out that more than a half dozen state medical societies oppose the creation of a government health insurance plan, which President Obama supports. The American Hospital Association also opposes elements of Mr. Obama’s reform ideas.

The Times feature examines other claims the president made about health insurance industry profits and proposed savings from reform.

Veteran political correspondent Joel Klein of Time Magazine praised the president’s performance: “He’s good. You forget that when you haven’t seen him in a while. He seemed entirely in command, not at all rattled by the toxic political dust storm swirling in Washington. His answers were supple, substantive,” Klein wrote.

National Review, a conservative weekly magazine, criticized the event in an editorial entitled “Snake Oil.” It highlights the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that reform plans would not reduce long-term health care costs and warned that the government would be able to ration care for Americans.

The editorial panned the list of positives the president listed for how he envisions health care reform: covering the uninsured, keeping government out of medical decisions, improving quality and reducing waste and fraud.

“If the president can persuade the American public of all that, then maybe we don’t even need medical care — we can just have him tell us all we’re perfectly healthy and we’ll go on our way.”

And the New Republic, a center-left magazine, featured a post from health care correspondent Jonathan Cohn, who predicted that perhaps Mr. Obama’s “grown-up” conversation on health care during the press conference could hurt his efforts at reform.

“Telling doctors and patients they need to be more ‘discriminating’ takes a little bravery, at least in this media environment. Critics are already warning about a government takeover of medicine. Obama seems to be banking on the fact that Americans will see past such ridiculous charges — and, more important, that they will come around to the idea that, yeah, maybe we really do need to start cutting down on all that unnecessary medical care,” Cohn wrote.

Aside from the main health reform theme, President Obama also drew attention for his take on the arrest of renowned Harvard University professor of African American history, Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested for disorderly conduct in his own Massachusetts home after neighbors called police on suspicion of a break-in. The story has become national news talking point, as many observers have called the arrest a sign of continued racial profiling by U.S. law enforcement.

President Obama, who is a friend of Gates, said the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in arresting him, a comment that has made the rounds on news sites and blogs.