Republicans and Democrats met yesterday at Blair House and discussed health care reform for over 7 hours. I watched most of it, which I guess shows that I have no life. All those hours of politicians with their talking points - but it was surprisingly interesting.
Republicans were respectful in their opposition to the health care reform bill even though their main point was the Congress should start over- from scratch after almost a year of legislative work. Then, they also asked that the Democrats forswear the use a majority vote to pass the bill. This strategy seems like the Bush diplomacy tactic of demanding that the other country give up its positions before we'll negotiate with it.
Again and again, the Republicans said that the American people oppose this huge bill. Some polls do show this, but, no wonder, after Republicans and Teabaggers have misled the public, with talk of government takeover and death panels.
The Democrats were moderate in defending the proposed bills, with many pointing out that the legislation includes many provisions that Republicans had favored. President Obama presided, sometimes conceding value in a Republican point, sometimes explaining part of the bill and its rationale, sometimes correcting Republican misstatements. At all times, he demonstrated command of the issues and command of the room.
The meeting was a positive event and somehat instructive. No significant positions were changed; the Republicans really offered nothin to cover most of the uninsured and rally want just to kill the bill. The Democrats showed no inclination to include the logical and clearly popular public option, but seemed resolved to get this job done.
Interestingly, after months of Republicans complaints that Obama did not live up to his campaign promise of transparent negotiations broadcast by C-Span, this event was not covered by C-Span.