- Overall, the summit was a good thing for Democrats and for the prospect of passing health care reform. I'll take a big televised exchange between Obama and Republican leaders any day. I think he's just better at this than they are. It also doesn't hurt that his position on health care is more just and easier to defend than John Boehner's. But it's not just that he's got skillz. In general, wonk-ish debates are good for Democrats, and it's especially true of the current health care debate. The Republican strategy to sink the bill and give Obama "his Waterloo" relies a lot on spreading fear and confusion among the public. But it's hard to spread fear and confusion when you're sitting right there with the Democrats and they can refute your points on camera.
- Could you imagine George W. Bush hosting a summit like this? Same thing with the recent "President's Question Time." It's good to see that Obama has absolutely no fear of going toe-to-toe with his biggest opponents on live TV. We knew he's smart. But he's also comfortable and confident. He's the guy you want on the label of whatever you're selling. (Again, it doesn't hurt that what we're "selling" would bring medical coverage to 36 million people who lack it and save money in doing so.) Republicans are right to criticize Obama for promising to put the bill's crafting on C-SPAN and then not doing so. But his Q&A session with the Republican Caucus plus todays 7-hour-plus summit is an unprecedented and welcome level of transparency.
- I hope that after today some moderate Republicans will soften their opposition to meaningful reform. And I hope that Democrats will stop waiting around for that and pass the reconciliation bill already. The president made it clear today that reconciliation (majority vote) is the way ahead for merging the Senate and House bills. Seriously, what are we still waiting for?
- Why do Republicans keep saying the United States has the best health care system in the world? We cover way fewer people, pay a lot more for it, and die at a younger age on average than people in many other developed countries. Besides we're talking about health insurance, not medical research and top of the line brain surgeons. I would guess that for the latter America has the best in the world. But we're talking about distribution and, if we're lucky, redistribution--you know, that word that Joe the Plumber was so afraid of during the campaign.
What do you think? Should similar summits be held for other issues in the near future?