Last March, President Obama held a health care summit at the White House in which the so-called “stakeholders” gathered together to discuss solving the nation’s health care crisis along with a handful of Republicans and hand-picked “experts.” The idea was to throw something up on C-SPAN to pretend that it would be a transparent process and that the White House was eager to solicit opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. In reality it was a staged event that excluded those who have pushed for free market solutions.
Now, almost a year later, Obama’s top domestic priority is on life support, and he’s again choosing to put on a show. Yesterday he announced that he was inviting Republicans to yet another White House summit on health care to discuss his own plan and Republican ideas. The half-day event is scheduled for Feb. 25, and he’ll let C-SPAN cameras in. Yet like the first summit, this one is pure theater. In the weeks leading up to the event, which aims to show that Obama is being transparent and soliciting Republican ideas, House and Senate Democratic leaders will be meeting behind closed doors to resolve their differences and craft a strategy for ramming their bill through the House and Senate along purely partisan lines. In fact, even in announcing the summit, the Washington Post reports that White House aides are privately emphasizing that they won’t be starting the process over to negotiate a deal with Republicans, but rather, still working to pass the merged House and Senate bills.
This is a classic Obama move. Create the appearance that he’s doing one thing when in reality he’s doing the exact opposite. Problem is, the public has already caught on to his shtick and can tell the difference between performance art and reality. I can’t see this changing the dynamics of the health care effort.
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