A quick and dirty textual comparison of health care speeches

I should have done this a couple of weeks ago. But I ran both Pres. Obama’s recent health care address and Bill Clinton’s 1993 health care address through Wordle, to see how they compare. Thumbnails with links to the full word clouds are presented below.

Clinton 1993
Wordle: Clinton 1993 health care speech

Obama 2009
Wordle: Obama 2009 health care speech

After Obama’s address, I commented that the speech was more about health insurance than health care, per se. The word cloud, I believe, supports my claim. According to the Wordle algorithm, “insurance” was the single most prominent word in Obama’s address, outranking both “health” and “care.” Other prominent words include “companies” and “coverage”  both of which are much less prominent in Clinton’s address.

The word “government” is also much more prominent in Obama’s speech, which is understandable considering it Clinton’s speech was delivered near the end of the era of big government!

This is, of course, a pretty crude analysis.

And there are lots of details to be worked out in the legisaltive process, so one should use caution in taking a speech, even a joint address to Congress, as a definitive policy statement.

Still, in a public address a president has little to gain by talking about issues that aren’t important to him. So, I contend that the president’s health care reform is largely health insurance reform and any concerns about “bending the curve” are secondary. I’m not saying that some sort of health insurance reform isn’t needed, but eventually we are going to have to address the issue of cost containment.



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