There was a time when the television networks groaned and dragged their feet when asked by the president of the United States to air one of his prime-time press conferences. But all the networks, even Fox, will air President Obama's 8 p.m. Oval Office oil-spill address tonight. Partly, that's because it's only going to be fifteen to twenty minutes long. And also partly because there's nothing good on tonight at 8 p.m. anyway. But even more so, it's because of this pivotal moment the nation finds itself in. This oil spill is now the worst ecological disaster in American history, and everyone wants to know what the president is going to do to make it all better.
According to "a White House official" who, as required by law, previewed the address for Politico's Mike Allen, Obama's speech will cover four main areas:
First, he'll lay out how we will deal with the oil that has leaked and what must be done to both cleanup now and ultimately restore the Gulf. Second, he will outline the steps being taken to help and protect those suffering economically as a result of this disaster, particularly in the claims process. Third, he will outline the changes he believes are necessary to ensure that a disaster such as this never happens again. Last, he will talk about what our fundamental energy approach must be going forward to reduce our dependence on oil and fossil fuels.”
As the Huffington Post's Sam Stein points out, that "last point seems likely to be the most watched among politics observers Tuesday night." Will Obama make a persuasive, passionate case for broad climate-change legislation, which currently lacks the 60 votes that every single piece of legislation needs? Will Obama begin to "turn the bill into a crusade," as our John Heilemann suggests? Will the cable-news talking heads ignore the issue entirely and waste hours analyzing Obama's emotion/anger? We'll find out tonight.