That quote above easily sounds as though it could of been a line straight from Obama's speech last night. However, it is actually a line that is 16 years old from a speech President Bill Clinton gave in 1993, almost 16 years to the day of Obama's address.
After reading Ted Kennedy's words to Obama about his lifelong fight for healthcare, seeing Hillary in the audience last night and after listening to Obama's hopeful rhetoric for reform, I couldn't help but think back to that speech when another young Democratic hopeful stood before congress and spoke very similar words.
When Obama said he wasn't the first President to take up this issue he was correct. Bill Clinton wasn't the first either... However, I think the closest we got was back in 1993 when Hillary was fighting hard for healthcare alongside the President.
There was an interesting little comparison on Politico today about the eerie similarities between Bill Clinton's address to Congress 16 years ago and the speech Barack Obama gave last night.
The Hill gave a great comparison of the two as well saying, "Both were young, dynamic Democrats renowned for their oratory skills in the first year of their presidencies, pushing a controversial plan to enact sweeping reforms to the healthcare system. Both faced deep divides within their own party, strong skepticism from Republicans and resistance from powerful interest groups."
Words that appeared again and again in both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's speeches:Although there are so many similarities its scary... there are still many differences. But these differences are good! For example, back in 1993 the healthcare debate was just beginning. Most people were not aware of all the problems within our healthcare system and even many Democrats did not want reform.
“Insurance company:” Obama, five. Clinton, three. “Health care costs:” Obama, three. Clinton, five. “Savings:” Obama, five. Clinton, 16. “Spending:” Obama, two. Clinton, three. “Choice:” Obama, four, Clinton, nine. “Market:” Obama, four, Clinton, three.
Of the 1,293 unique words in Obama’s speech, 630 – or 48 percent – were also used by Clinton in his health care address to Congress.
Today, even before Obama stepped into office the healthcare debate was on the table and there have been many other health bills that passed since 1993, including bills from Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John McCain and other Senators and members of Congress.
One big difference is of course the absence, or the appearance of the absence of Hillary Clinton's hand from the healthcare plan. (But remember Hill doesn't discuss what she discusses with Presidents, current or former!)
Over the last 8 months, Hillary and those working with her have talked to literally thousands of Americans to understand the strengths and the frailties of this system of ours. They met with over 1,100 health care organizations. They talked with doctors and nurses, pharmacists and drug company representatives, hospital administrators, insurance company executives, and small and large businesses. They spoke with self-employed people. They talked with people who had insurance and people who didn't. They talked with union members and older Americans and advocates for our children. The First Lady also consulted, as all of you know, extensively with governmental leaders in both parties in the States of our Nation and especially here on Capitol Hill. Hillary and the task force received and read over 700,000 letters from ordinary citizens. What they wrote and the bravery with which they told their stories is really what calls us all here tonight.And let's not forget that Obama isn't the only person to get booed while fighting for the right of Americans to healthcare. There was this speech back in 1994 where Hillary was out stumping for universal healthcare in Seattle when the audience started booing her. Take that Joe Wilson, you aren't the first to boo at universal healthcare! And booing won't stop us!
Last night during Obama's speech, I was hopeful for the future of our healthcare system and I know that although Hillary may not be the one to implement it from the seat of the Presidency, I would bet good money that she is hopeful that real and true reform will happen soon.
I'd love to hear others thoughts on this. Maybe from others that remember more from the year 1993 than I do?? Anyone else see any interesting comparisons?
Read the full transcript of the address here or watch the full video of Bill Clinton's 1993 address to Congress below: