He was a testy clock-Nazi, the GOP was surprisingly well-briefed—and the outcome was never in doubt. Why don’t the Dems just ram health care through and spare us the spectacle?
Six and a half hours, two meals, a tub of ice cream, a gallon of coffee and 20 sheets of scribbled notes after the televised “bipartisan health-care summit” began, I still ask myself the question that popped into my head within minutes of the summit’s start: What on earth was President Obama thinking when he decided to convene this weird little powwow?
Was he trying to make the Republicans look bad—retrograde ogres who would leave uninsured babies to die in their cribs? If so, he didn’t succeed at all. On the contrary, they came out of it looking rather alert and grownup.
Nobody thought the health-care summit would accomplish anything. The GOP is dead set against any tax hikes, and the Democrats can’t pay for new benefits without them.
Today’s bipartisan health-care summit was preceded by a great deal of eye-rolling on the part of progressive Washington, and I’m sure the feeling in the conservative camp was much the same. The whole thing was, transparently, a fraud. Neither the White House nor the leadership in the House or the Senate had any intention of taking the Republican Party’s point of view seriously. And rightly so. The fact of the matter is that the president wants to comprehensively reform the American health-care system and create a framework in which all Americans will have coverage and we can transition, over the long haul, out of the current dysfunctional employer-based system. Republicans, by contrast, don’t want that.
There were proper fireworks bursting over the bipartisanship flickers at Thursday’s health-care summit. We bring you the best of the barbs, the bloopers, and yes, the story about the dentures.