A substantial section of Obama's speech last-night was devoted to calling out critics, and the president pulled no punches. Marching into the fray with unusual truculence, he slammed "radio and cable talk show hosts," "prominent politicians," and foes "whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost." Who was he talking about and how did they respond? While he named no names, it's fairly clear who fits the profile for probable targets of Obama's trampling.



Bill O'Reilly

Why? Obama's indictment of skeptical "cable talk show hosts" would have to include O'Reilly, who has repeatedly slammed massive government intervention in health care.

O'Reilly's Reaction: O'Reilly was surprisingly mixed on the speech. On the one hand, he called it "Waaaaay too long" and emphasized that "Many of us reject the vision that bureacrats will make the medical decisions that affect our lives." But he applauded measures to prevent insurance companies from withdrawing care: "That's good. Talking Points [his show] likes that."

Sarah Palin

Why? It goes without saying that Palin is the most "prominent politician" in Obama's sights. Her op-ed yesterday in the Wall Street Journal reiterated her stubborn fear of death-panels: "The fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters."

Palin's Response: Palin stuck to her guns, and in fact hit back at Obama's name-calling: "He called our concerns 'bogus,' 'irresponsible,' and 'a lie' -- so much for civility. After all the name-calling, though, what he did not do is respond to the arguments we've made, arguments even some of his own supporters have agreed have merit...The President can keep making unsupported assertions, but until he directly responds to the arguments I've made, I'm going to call him out too." (Palin's Facebook page)

Glenn Beck

Why? The radio and cable news pundit who has fashioned himself White House enemy number one, Glenn Beck also parroted Palin on death-panels in August, affirming "I believe it to be true."

Beck's Response: Pure snub. He refuses even to watch, pivoting to throw a punch instead at Obama's czars: "I don't even need to watch the speech. I'm against any compromise. I don't need to hear about it...Let me sum up this way: it does not matter."

Megan McArdle

Why? The Atlantic's own libertarian business blogger attracted a storm of controversy for eloquently and fiercely arguing against national health care as a matter of principle. While acknowledging problems with the current system, she comes as close as anyone to wanting, as Obama phrased it, "to kill reform at any cost" and who oppose reform as a "government takeover."

McArdle's Response: A shrug. McArdle tut-tutted the usual recital of "political fairy stories." McArdle didn't budge, and didn't seem to flinch or even note Obama's more aggressive tone: "I don't think this speech persuaded many people not to worry about the health care plan: it made it sound complicated, wonky, and uncertain."