Uh huh. About that health care summit. From ABC:
Obama has invited Republicans and Democrats to a televised bipartisan meeting on health care on Feb. 25, but experts are skeptical about whether the open event will be any more than political theater and actually achieve any concrete results in bringing both sides together.
"It could either be a choreographed professional wrestling match or it could be another 'Kumbaya' meeting, and I think both would be totally useless," said Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of political economy at Princeton University . "It should be a frank exchange -- thoughtful, polite, but the way adults should talk to each other."
The president is hoping to thaw the ice on a health care overhaul bill that right now faces grim prospects on Capitol Hill. By bringing both Republicans and Democrats to the table, the White House hopes to resurrect the momentum by energizing wary Democrats and staunchly opposed Republicans.
"Bipartisanship can't be that I agree to all the things that they [Republicans] believe in or want, and they agree to none of the things I believe in and want, and that's the price of bipartisanship," Obama said at an impromptu press conference Tuesday, "but that's sometimes the way it gets presented.
"I'm willing to move off some of the preferences of my party in order to meet them halfway," he said. "But there's got to be some give from their side as well. ... That's what I'm hoping gets accomplished at this summit."
Squarely in Obama’s wheelhouse, right? After all, it’s exactly the sort of thing Obama said would make him a good president during the 2008 campaign.
KROFT: Why do you think you’d be a good president?
OBAMA: One of the things I’m good at is getting people in a room with a bunch of different ideas who sometimes violently disagree with each other and finding common ground and a sense of common direction.
Then again, that self-assessment hasn’t survived the harsh realities Obama has experienced since becoming president, now has it?
In fact, though almost all of the violence in the health care debate has been on Obama’s side of the ideological aisle, Obama has done nothing to find common ground or a sense of common direction with his political opponents (to be blunt, he's done much worse than doing nothing, what with the name calling and the attempts to shut down debate, but that's for another day).
You might say Obama was wrong about bringing people together. And you would be right.
But let's cut him some slack on that 60 Minutes interview. It’s not like he’s just now realizing this reality. In fact, his reason for why he would be a good president barely survived a week before meeting its expiration date – he violently disagreed with it eight days later. I mean, you could get a bunch of people in a room and not one could find common ground or a common sense of direction between his statement above and this one.
"I don't think me calling House Republican members would have been that helpful, I tend not to be that persuasive on that side of the aisle," he said.
In other words…
Obama told me that if he was elected president, he might as well eschew bipartisan outreach because he tends not to be that persuasive to his political opponents. And he was right! And he has!
Finally! An Obama statement that has not reached an expiration date. Somebody call Geraghty.
So. Is the summit a serious undertaking or simply political theater?
Either way, I think most can agree that Obama can’t and won’t do much persuading.Including, frankly, Obama.