Real World: Blair House
First, it did not happen at the White House or Capitol Hill. It was staged in neutral territory at Blair House, technically the President’s guest house. Secondly, it was televised nationally as a symbol of the transparency Obama has promised to the American people.
This idea of transparency could work to either party’s advantage. The Democrats hoped that their efforts to stand firm on the ideas they have agreed to in both houses will galvanize public support for the centerpiece of Obama’s domestic agenda. The Republicans hoped to show that they are not the two-faced, hypocritical obstructionist party-poopers who care more about their friends in the insurance industry than they do for the common good of the American people who do not have health insurance. Good luck with that, GOP, not that I’m biased in any way...
Congressional Republicans want to scrap the entire 2700 page legislation and start over. They reason that then, and only then, can they incorporate their ideas about health care reform. I’m sure there is a healthy amount of skepticism about their motives for this suggestion. They could possibly have the best intentions and truly believe that their ideas should be considered in the final legislation.
Or, more likely, a total scrapping of the current legislation will give them another chance to do what they did all last year. Namely, all last year, they hemmed, they hawed, they blocked, they delayed, and they postponed any action on the bill. If they do this long enough, the Democrats will have nothing to show for the voters in the mid-term elections.
I’m trying very hard not to be biased, but when it comes to Republican motives for wanting to scrap the current plan, count me among the skeptical. Okay, to be honest, I’m not trying that hard!
The fact that it was televised on more than one network should not have excused anyone from watching it. Oh, wait; it was scheduled for the middle of a work day. Still, many American workers (not me) could stream it through their work computers. There is also a major winter storm hitting the northeast again. People had other things on their minds than the summit at Blair House. Also, most importantly, the boredom factor for television viewers was very high.
For example, let’s speculate on what kind of dialogue we could have heard at the summit...
Congressional Republican: Mr. President, in regards to the tax provision for fiscal year 2011 as summarized on page 912, paragraph 3, subsection H, how would you sustain such an increase during the following three years?
Obama: Good question, and I have to be honest, I was just reviewing that point with one of my aides just before we came over here and...
...and BORING! I’m falling asleep just typing these words, and I’m the one making all these words up!
No, this is what I would like to see happen on a nationally televised summit between the Republican and Democratic leaders of this country.
All would be seated as the President strides up to the podium. He would make a few opening remarks, perhaps open with a joke, and then go alpha male on his opponents. First he would remove his jacket and tie, then a la the Incredible Hulk, rip his shirt open! He would throw his chest out defiantly and say, “Okay, let’s get down to business. I’m not here to play shirts and skins with you. I’m here to reform health care in this country.” Then, in an aside to the Vice President loud enough for the entire room to hear: “Joe, lock the doors!”
Okay, maybe this wouldn’t get the desired result Obama wants, but damn, it would be GREAT TELEVISION!
(Thank you for reading! Please remember to make life interesting when the cameras are turned on.)