First off, why is John McCain even at today's health care summit organized by President Obama? He sat there looking smug and childish throughout the first section of the discussion. Then when given a chance to talk in the second section he dropped all pretense of being there to work towards a solution in health care. He was there simply to play partisan games like a spoiled brat angry that he didn't win Miss Congeniality at the prom.
I give President Obama credit for largely ignoring McCain's schoolyard ploy, acknowledging that McCain was merely venting talking points with no attempt at serious legislating, and moved on to have Secretary Sebelius. Obama is an adult, I'm sorry to say that Senator McCain, whom I once held in high regard, has proven to be immature and, frankly, an embarrassment to his colleagues.
Okay, let's get beyond Senator McCain and talk about the people who are actually there to accomplish something. Needless to say, there has been a great deal of reading talking points by both parties so far in this summit. But I have been impressed that many of the participants have actually offered substantive and legitimate discussion of the issues. Sure, there are mischaracterizations and parsing of wording to push positions, but there have also been some honest presentations of key issues.
Will there be solutions found that will cause the Republicans to vote significantly for a revised bill rather than merely voting no as a matter of political calculus? Actually, I doubt it. I think the Republicans have decided that voting against all bills, even ones that substantively include their major ideas, gives them a better chance of gaining seats than actually working toward a solution that is best for the American people.
In fact, Minority Whip Cantor just played his political hand and President Obama called his bluff. The point is that there is a difference between finding solutions to problems we all agree on and simply reading your talking points off a 3x5 card.
And by the way, from what I've seen, the Republicans have been given a disproportionate amount of time relative to their Democratic colleagues (though to be honest, Obama seems to be the most knowledgeable and persuasive Democratic representative present, and is answering a lot of questions).
My hope for the remainder of the day is that both sides get over themselves, stop trying to push their talking points, and start hashing out actual proposals. Obama keeps trying to bring the discussion back to specific points, and I have to say he has largely done a good job at dragging the political gamesmanship back to the goal of solving the health care crisis, but clearly more has to be done.
Okay, they just broke for lunch and so House members could rush back for a vote. Should be an interesting afternoon.