Today's healthcare summit hosted by the President was pretty interesting, if infuriating, political theatre. I give him a lot of credit for holding an open forum like that. You don't get to see that very often in the American system.
(Oh, wait, you did when President Obama single-handedly engaged the entire Republican caucus live on TV on their home turf a few weeks ago. And also a year ago when he held a similar open healthcare forum.)
The President did a good job, and a couple of individual Democratic congressmen were impressive, but the Democrats still came across as lackluster at best.
The Republicans, who, by their own admission, have absolutely no real interest in healthcare reform, emphasized four points the entire day:
1. Don't use reconciliation to get around our obstructionism. Even though it's perfectly legitimate, it's been done over 20 times since 1980, and we did it to pass major tax cuts for the rich just a few years ago. But you can't use it. We're totally super serious.
2. The only real issue in healthcare reform is tort reform, tort reform, tort reform. Yes, it will only save about $5 billion per year, it's not really a critical problem, and mostly helps rich doctors and insurance companies, but it's the ONLY idea we really have. Kind of like tax cuts that way. (Oh wait, you're willing to accept tort reform as a compromise?? Uh, how about if we just ignore you?)
3. We speak for the American people. Even though we were crushed in the 2008 elections and have a 41 seat minority, only we know what the American people want. And they want tort reform and tax cuts for the rich.
4. We should start over. Yes, we have obstructed any meaningful dialogue, filibustered every legislative initiative, and just plain made crap up (death panels, anyone?) for an entire year specifically to kill healthcare reform. But you should still reward us and start this entire hellish process from scratch.
Do average Americans see how hypocritical, scummy and wrong this is? I honestly don't know any more.