President Obama held his Summit yesterday. It was billed as a bipartisan meeting to hash out health care issues. Many wondered if this would just be political theater for Obama to get the American people behind him and his health care plan.
Obama was going to moderate and listen to see if he could get some good ideas from the Republicans and in front of the camera's, and hopefully some bipartisan support for his health care plan. That's how it was billed.
The Republicans came prepared. They took the President at his word and they prepared to make their case in front of Obama, in front of the Democrats and in front of the nation. The news organizations were thrilled. They were going to get to see Obama perform his magic on camera for 6 hours and lead a bipartisan campaign to get health care revived from the dead and back front and center before the nation. President Obama wanted to show he was willing to work with the Republicans. Oh happy day!!
But then the President wouldn't shut up. The more he said, the worse it got for him. The Republicans had facts. They had figures. They had examples, both good for what they were proposing and examples of bad situations to support their position of no takeover of health care by the government. They were calm, succinct and straightforward.
The all stars for the Republicans were Senator Lamar Alexander who asked the President to scrap the current bills and start over. Senator Tom Coburn who pointed out the 33% waste in current government health plans that could save billions of dollars. Representative Paul Ryan who not only pointed out that the current plan was a ponzi scheme but that the current bills actually count dollars twice to make it look deficit neutral when in fact it isn't. He said that these bills the Democrats voted on and passed, were so shaky they'd make Bernie Madoff proud. Eric Cantor and John Kyl also made salient points.
The Republicans took the offer of the summit seriously. they brought in their facts, figures and examples. The Democrats brought in stories from constituents and childish barbs. Obama responded to many including Alexander, Ryan and Kyl. He tried to berate Cantor for having a copy of the 2,400 page Senate bill in front of him saying that props don't help move a conversation forward. Meanwhile, Cantor had the bill open and read from it when giving his answer to the Democrat plan.
The low point had to be Senator McCain calling Obama out on his pledge of transparency and on the backroom deals to which Obama tried to put McCain down by saying that the election was over and nothing would come from replaying the election.
When they broke for lunch, the news organizations were no longer interested. Fox News went to their normal programming. CNN went to Wolf Blitzer and his interviews of other members of Congress. Even MSNBC moved away from the summit and they moved away from it before any of the others.
For a man that wanted to listen to both sides and come out with a bill that could be bipartisan, Obama proved that his ears don't do the listening. His mouth does. The Democrats, not including Obama spoke for 114 minutes. The Republicans spoke for 110 minutes and Obama spoke for 119 minutes! One man spoke more than either of the two parties. There were 17 Republicans, 21 Democrats and Obama outspoke them all. Not one Democrat came prepared for this summit with any facts or figures. Nothing to back up their position.
When the news quit carrying the summit, the only way to catch it was through the computer. Nobody, not one person, said that it was a slam dunk for Obama. The consensus was that the Republicans revitalized themselves with the American people in that summit.
When the summit was over, the talk was that the Democrats were now going to go to the nuclear option. Reconciliation. They now know that they won't get any Republicans on board. So the only way that they can get this through is to use the Reconciliation and with the hoops they need to jump through to get that far, it's even less likely than it was a week ago when people declared it dead, that it would ever get through.
If people were going to use yesterdays summit as a way to choose their next elected official, not many Democrats would be re-elected. If the Democrats somehow manage to get the nuclear option through, this fall will be a mass slaughter of Democrats in the voting. If the Democrats try and fail to get the nuclear option through, Republicans are still in a good position to retake both the House and Senate.
Yesterday was a day for Obama's teleprompter to tell him "better to be silent and thought the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
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