Thoughts about long meetings…

There are many reasons to be curious about what happens at the HCR summit Thursday at Blair House. Speculation about who wins, who loses and ways to score the event like a sports event flood the zone. Some of this speculation might be correct–most will be wrong.

What is new here is the dynamic of the long meeting. This kind of thing is almost never televised and when it is, it is almost never interesting. I expect the meeting on Thursday will be a surprise.

I work at a nonprofit. I’ve been in lots and lots of very long meeting over the years on contentious issues involving a number of stakeholders. These events can fail or succeed and often the key is who runs the meeting and how they do it. A good meeting facilitator can move attendees at a meeting in directions that they did not think of (or would even endorse) before the start of the event. A good facilitator knows where he or she wants to go and how to bring along the group–even if the group is at each other’s throats.

From all the reports I’ve read, President Obama is a master meeting facilitator. This is, after all, the most important skill of a community organizer. The reports of his meetings leading up to his decisions about his Af-Pac strategy underscored this skill.

Regardless of the goals of Republicans and Democrats coming into the meeting, I think we will see something different. We’ll see a well run meeting where issues are explored, voices are heard, assumptions are challenged, consensus made where possible and a way forward at the end. It will be a way forward that not everybody will agree with, but it will be clear how that became the chosen way forward from the majority of those at the meeting.

I think this has the potential to be a very unusual event much as the Q&A time with the House Republicans was an unusual and refreshing event. I do not think that most of the folks in the room or the media covering it are used to or have the attention span to deal with a six hour (or more) meeting. They will get bored quickly. They will seek a fast way to the nearest soundbite, but they will have to wait. I think this meeting will be more than political theatre. I think it is a way to put a spotlight on how grown-ups should work out their differences. Too bad that a quick scan of the list of attendees shows that mostly toddlers will be attending and covering the event.

It should be interesting to watch.

Cheers

dengre

and yes, this is an open thread






89 replies
  1. 1
    Brian J says:

    Has everyone here seen that Orville Redenbacher popcorn commercial where the guy tries to present a thesis on how much popcorn you get for just a certain amount of calories? If so, do you remember the looks of the committee, with their mouths gaping open and almost angry demeanor? It’s basically a “WTF?!?!” look.

    That’s what I imagine the reaction of everyone who hasn’t been close attention to the health care debate would be like if the Republicans show their true colors tomorrow. Of course, I don’t see any reason for this to happen, since they are bound to show up repeating the same stream of lies and half-baked ideas that they’ve been pushing for months if not years, which for some reason the media has not called them out on. It’d be really, really nice if I was wrong about this, however.

  2. 2
    ruemara says:

    As a person who televises long meetings, I wish Obama much fu, as he schools some republican and democratic ass on doing their jobs. And may you all have much coffee, politicians with an open mic and a time limit move at a near evolutionary pace.

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    @Brian J: Dead right. When republicans say things in public that they normally only say to other republicans, people are aghast. Lets hope they let their true colours shine.

  4. 4
    Balconesfault says:

    Will Republicans get to call for a break to huddle and regroup midway?

    Or moreover – will Repus wait until Obama says something that they can all cry “Liar!” about, and walk out of the room?

  5. 5
    WaterGirl says:

    I think that for President Obama there may be almost as much riding on this meeting as the Philadelphia speech on race for candidate Obama. Maybe I have lost perspective, as so many others have these past weeks, but that’s how it seems to me.

    I was doing pretty well at avoiding most of the speculation on this for the past few days, but I got pretty discouraged a few minutes ago when I read that someone from the administration leaked that Obama has a “Plan B” that will only give half as many people health care.

    If it’s true, or even appears to be true, it weakens Obama’s position going into the meeting. Whoever leaked that (or made it up!) does not belong in this administration.

  6. 6
    valdivia says:

    Thanks for this post, refreshing insightful take. I have been seeing so much gnashing of teeth about how Obama just handed the Republicans a victory by doing this, how Obama is underestimating the super excellent message machine of the Republicans. How Obama is simply thinking he can get a pony out of this, etc etc. I find it funny that it is mostly democrats who envy and cheer-lead and adopt the republican memes. I am not crazy about a lot on our side but I am always confident Obama knows how to deal with things like this. I am hoping the dems will shut up and follow his lead.

  7. 7
    valdivia says:

    @WaterGirl:

    what is the source, outlet for this info?

  8. 8
    Mike Kay says:

    what time does it start?

  9. 9
    RedKitten says:

    I work at a nonprofit.

    I feel your pain. :)

  10. 10
    lamh31 says:

    thx u for this!

    I’ll be at work (no where near a computer) all day tomorrow, so I was just looking at my blogroll, to see what everyone’s expecting for the summit tomorrow, and I kid you not that all of them were entirely too pessimistic, even for me, and I pride myself on expecting the worse and hoping for the best. They were even depressing me!

    So even if tomorrow is a colossal failure (see, I’m expecting the worse), based on your post, I’m gonna expect less of a failure (hoping for the best)

  11. 11

    This is exactly how I feel about the Health Care Summit, and it’s the primary reason I support it. The President is fantastic in front of a camera and only increases his popularity every time he speaks directly to the American people. Additionally, he’s been known to use Socratic Method in meetings in order to challenge people he either hasn’t heard from or knows don’t agree with him. Law students see this all the time – those who are unserious or haven’t thought in depth about the issue at hand and are merely spouting platitudes are quickly exposed and embarrassed. If forces all parties to come prepared. If either Democratic or Republican leaders think they can come to this summit with a superficial understanding of the issue, they’re sadly mistaken. This is the world in which the President has been trained to operate since his graduate school days; he dominates it.

    This is how policy decisions should operate, and it’s about time to show the American people that the President has a better grasp on the situation facing him than anyone realizes.

  12. 12
    Brian J says:

    @Balconesfault:

    We can only hope something like that happens. Within 24 hours, it’d be made into a commercial and blasted into every television in the country.

  13. 13

    @Mike Kay:

    10 AM, I believe. It’ll be online at Organizing for America and I think it’ll be carried by the major cable news outlets.

  14. 14
    Joy says:

    I wonder if the length of the meeting will make some of the participants forget about the cameras–if so, that could be very revealing. I’ve seen it happen in other settings, but of course, there the cameras were not as intrusive as these are likely to be. Still, one can hope!

  15. 15
    James Hare says:

    I’m half expecting something along the lines of:
    “Well you can do what you want with us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the United States of America.”

    How Otter never made it to the US Senate is beyond me. He had the attitude down in college.

  16. 16
    Joy says:

    @James Hare: As I recall it was Bluto (Belushi) that became the politician–a senator I think.

  17. 17
    valdivia says:

    @Adam Collyer:

    exactly. I just cannot believe so many people have been wetting their pants and betting the Republicans will embarrass Obama. Really?

  18. 18
    lamh31 says:

    Adam C,

    I hope your right. Like valdivia said, there seems to be much “gnashing of teeth” all over the place. it’s actually really frustrating.

    It’s like when there is a movie that I really want to see that is coming out soon. I try to avoid reading any reviews or hearing any friends reviews about the movie, cause I really want to see it, and I don’t want my expectations of the movie to be influenced by outside sources or reviews.

    Basically, to me, there is not way that anything can live up to the hype, so I try not to put too much “hype” into it. You know what I mean.

    From reading a few blogs, it just seems like they’ve seen the trailer (GOP q&a) and like what they see, but thanks to “sources” and “speculation” that says the movie is gonna be craptacular, (HCR Summit) now they won’t even see it cause why see a crappy movie if it’s gonna be crappy anyway.

    I prefer to decide for myself if the movie will be crappy or not.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Mike Kay says:

    @valdivia:

    Hippies are really good at soiling themselves. That’s why they smell so badly.

  21. 21
    Toni says:

    For me, what I’m most interested to see is follow-up questions. Reporters never push these guys on any of their talking points when they interview them. The meeting is too long to stick to just talking points.

  22. 22
    CalD says:

    Speculation about who wins, who loses and ways to score the event like a sports event flood the zone. Some of this speculation might be correct—most will be wrong.

    Amen to that. I was just thinking this afternoon that when someone as sensible as Greg Sargent writes twice in one day that the pressure is on Obama to pull off a decisive win, what hope is there for the Politico or CNN?

    One problem is that there is a lot of inertia to public opinion and attitude changes, unlike news cycles, take more than a few hours to play out. News media may have file their conclusions and prognoses before the day is done but if some major shift in the landscape did occur as a direct result of anything that transpired tomorrow it will likely take days or weeks to become apparent. Our political press ends up behind the curve so much of the time precisely because they spend so much of their time trying to get ahead of it.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Annie says:

    Obama has the capacity to control the discourse — he showed that during his Q&A with the Republicans. What is unclear — and what Obama cannot control — is the spin after. How much did the administration gain after the Q&A? Not much, unfortunately.

    Unfortunately, again, these are not real policy debates. The Republicans don’t want debate — they just want to survive to spin another day. They are not coming to the summit with a genuine wish to improve health care. They are coming because if they don’t, they fear how that would be spinned. In their arrogant haze, they believe they can control the narrative by just showing up.

    If the Democratic leadership was smart, which is a BIG IF, they would capitalize on the extent to which the administration genuinely wants and is committed to improving health care for all — by attempting to listen to all sides, seriously considering all sides, and designing policy considering all sides.

    They would use the opportunity to point out that the Republicans have no side — they vent against government health care, while they don’t have the balls to come out in the summit against medicare — a real teabag killer.

    I hope that the administration would use the opportunity to boldly point out that the only position the Republicans have is to retain the status quo, which ultimately supports those who have jobs, who can afford increases in contributions to health insurance, who have no pre-existing conditions, who get old and can look forward to medicare (Cheney), and have the funds and opportunity to have choice. Which, ultimately is no choice, and which shows that stating that the US has the best health care in the world is as meaningless as stating that “we will be greeted as liberators in Iraq.”

  25. 25
    valdivia says:

    @CalD:

    amen! It really is funny to me too that most dems on blogs have made something that is clearly putting the Republicans on the defensive into something that gets transformed into a republican win. If they are doing that ahead of time can you imagine the media?

  26. 26
    Mike Kay says:

    @CalD:

    I like Greg Sargent, but I’ve always got the vibe that he drinks toooooooooooooooo much coffee, and constantly suffers from the jitters.

  27. 27
    valdivia says:

    @WaterGirl:

    the link did not work. is this the times? wapo? none of the reliable sources on HCR have this.

  28. 28
    Comrade Kevin says:

    Speculation about who wins, who loses and ways to score the event like a sports event flood the zone. Some of this speculation might be correct—most will be wrong.

    I can tell you who will likely lose, coming out of it: the American people.

  29. 29

    @Annie:

    Unfortunately, again, these are not real policy debates. The Republicans don’t want debate—they just want to survive to spin another day. They are not coming to the summit with a genuine wish to improve health care. They are coming because if they don’t, they fear how that would be spinned. In their arrogant haze, they believe they can control the narrative by just showing up.

    But again, this is by far the worst option for them. President Obama has overwhelming command of the issues and problems, and the public remembers this every time he has the floor. Not only is he the most dominant personality in the room by virtue of his position, but he has the microphone. They just look silly by default if they truly have no plans of coming prepared and are merely dealing in sloganeering. Frank Luntz can’t help them here when they face actual pushback from the real adult in this government.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    valdivia says:

    @WaterGirl:

    I looked online and the only story with that title seems to come from the WSJ. I am taking it with a grain of salt.

  32. 32
    valdivia says:

    @Mike Kay:

    yep saw that. is this on the record? I am taking it with a huge grain of salt.

  33. 33
    Martin says:

    @valdivia:

    exactly. I just cannot believe so many people have been wetting their pants and betting the Republicans Democrats will embarrass Obama. Really?

    Yes. Really.

  34. 34
    Dave C says:

    Tomorrow is my birthday. All I want is healthcare reform. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

  35. 35
    WaterGirl says:

    @valdivia: Sorry! Took me 3 edits to get it right. The html code is so simple, but I can’t seem to get it right the first time. I had hoped to fix it before anyone noticed.

  36. 36
    Anya says:

    @valdivia: I don’t get that fear because the Republicans have nothing more than empty sound-bites. Sound-bites cannot sustain you for more than 3 minutes. They would have to come up with solutions and explain their positions.

    Did anyone hear about Boehner inviting Rep. Stupac to the summit?

  37. 37
    valdivia says:

    @WaterGirl:

    No problem! I really don’t think this piece should freak you out. Again, getting all upset ahead of time is a waste of energy. Let’s see what happens and how this pushes the bill forward. :)

    @Anya:

    Then maybe Obama should re-invite Snow who said she could not go because the Republicans had not invited her!

  38. 38
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @Annie:

    They are not coming to the summit with a genuine wish to improve health care. They are coming because if they don’t, they fear how that would be spinned. In their arrogant haze, they believe they can control the narrative by just showing up.

    and this is the Obot trap. An offer they can’t refuse, but one where they are like sheep in the wolf pen. It is Obama’s world, this kind of format.

    Yea, I know, I’m just a dreamy eyed obot that don’t know no better, but I really love this kind of shit and seeing the wingnuts get clobbered with reality of reason. And, it’s on my teevee to boot.

  39. 39
    Brian J says:

    @WaterGirl:

    I don’t see the problem here. His first choice is clearly a bill that expands coverage for more people, but failing that, he’ll settle for something less. And if he can get that passed, it’ll be disappointing, but a step in the right direction, just as the recent jobs-by-tax-cuts bill was.

  40. 40
    WaterGirl says:

    @valdivia: I hope it’s not true. I have tried so hard not to read any of it the last few days, and I’m sorry I read that one.

  41. 41

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    Based on our use of the same blockquote and consistent comment checking, I’d say you and I are brothers from different mothers, my friend.

  42. 42
    Dennis G. says:

    @Adam Collyer:

    Yes. I think there is a great danger for folks who come armed only with their talking points. Being asked to drill down and explain exactly what they mean can be a real problem for the BS artist when he or she is trapped in the spotlight.

    The discussion will move from the whole to the specifics. Folks will be asked if they support this or that and why or why not. If your answer was written by Luntz and all you can do is rotely repeat it–you will be in trouble. Tantrums and petulance will not work as well.

    Cheers

  43. 43
    Mike Kay says:

    @valdivia:

    it’s not such a bad plan: allow people up to 26 years old to stay on their parents’ health plans, and by expanding Medicaid and SCHiP.

    You can’t get to universal healthcare without mandates, but the hippies hate mandates, if there’s no public option.

  44. 44
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @Adam Collyer: After reading your above comment with eerily similar sentiment, there could be some pol familiarity at play.

  45. 45
    valdivia says:

    @Mike Kay:

    I am not particularly worried about it to tell you the truth. I just think that a lot of people are jittery and the gnashing of teeth online has gone with a belief that Obama is throwing it all away and everyone under the bus.

    Since I am an Obot I don’t see this and I really am just waiting to see how things develop. I am sure there will be something significant signed by april/may.

  46. 46
    Brian J says:

    @valdivia:

    It’s from the news pages, so it’s fine.

  47. 47
    valdivia says:

    @Brian J:

    well ever since this summer the news pages started doing really badly sourced articles re the wh. They also had that gem about how Obama cares too much about policy. So for me the WSJ under Murdoch is not really about opinion being different from the news pages.

  48. 48
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @valdivia:

    Since I am an Obot I don’t see this

    You don’t see it cause it ain’t there. Not in any comparative sense with other dem presnits of the past. The wingnuts do it different. Military like fealty to dear leader, who dialed up the GOP controlled congress under Bush and placed his order for legislation like ordering pizza with room service. We are not them. thank the lard. We do democracy by chinese fire drill and a cacophony of opinions that is loud, and it ain’t purdy, but usually somehow delivers things of value. Let’s hope that holds true with HCR. But all the prog goodies in the so called stimulus is law, and if broken down into it’s component parts on energy initiatives and the same for other science research and development, as well as social safety net expansions, would fill up any halfway honest libtard’s Christmas stocking for several years.

    Though it is still early on. And like all other humans Obama has the capacity to be a failed president, but no where near that as of today.

  49. 49
    Anya says:

    @valdivia: I don’t think Stupac is suicidal. He will not cross the leadership of this party in this blatant manner.

  50. 50
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Dave C: Happy birthday! I hope you get a great big gift-wrapped package of HCR. And a balloon. (Ad some balloon juice.)

  51. 51
    valdivia says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    a general after my own heart!

    I so agree with what you wrote. Sometimes all I have left is a dispirited sigh because it seems our side is the first to give up on our own. But I am fairly positive about tomorrow and for HCR in general.

    ETA: off to read gang. see you all tomorrow!

  52. 52
    minachica says:

    @Brian J: as opposed to the “commentary” pages?

  53. 53
    Brian J says:

    @valdivia:

    Even with some questionable articles, the news pages are still good. And with an article that is not on something complicated or technical, it’s easier to see bias. I didn’t see any.

  54. 54
    Mike Kay says:

    @valdivia:

    this was the predictable result of the Bennett petition over the public option. The votes have never been there. It speaks volumes when Wyden, Feingold, and Dodd refuse to sign the letter. When these raving libs won’t sign on then the votes aren’t there.

    it’s hard for the hippies to accept that there aren’t the votes to pass the PO, so they naturally lash out. You’ve heard this bizarre notion that if the president only yelled loud enough, Loserman and nelson would have caved. I think they’ve seen too many movies or episodes of The West Wing, if they believe that, because the truth is no one could get Loserman to betray his corporate paymasters.

  55. 55
    Brian J says:

    @minachica:

    Well, yes. For a long time, the editorial pages have been the subject of mockery and derision, among other things. The news pages, on the other hand, are widely respected. Ralph Nader has praised them (at least before Murdoch took over) and he’s not exactly a corporate shill.

  56. 56
    Annie says:

    @valdivia:

    I would argue that Obama can control the debate. He clearly has shown that he has the capacity to win any debate with Republicans. What I do not have faith in is the Democratic leadership. I do not believe that they have given him the kind of support he needs when he needs it. If Republicans ever had the kind of leadership and smarts we witness in Obama, they would be moving forward every policy they put forward. The Republican leadership would be solidly behind their leader, smirking all the way…

    That is why I fear that while I have total faith Obama will control the narrative at the summit, the Democratic leadership will provide the space for Republicans to control their spin…

    For genuine policy debates to succeed, there has to be at a minimum an agreement of all sides that they want to move forward for the public good — and a willingness of all stakeholders to argue specifics. That doesn’t exist here.

    The Republicans just want to survive the day, to spin away, knowing in their arrogance that Obama does not even control his own party.

  57. 57
    tyrese says:

    They just look silly by default if they truly have no plans of coming prepared

    well, there are all kinds of ways this could go badly for the administration. I’m sure many GOP staffers have spent long nights developing loaded questions and clever phrases. But there are a few reasons to be optimistic. Obama has worked very hard in life, and if there’s anybody who has the grit to remain alert and sharp during a 6 hour policy meeting, it’s him. Many of his opponents are, like Mike Pence, nitwits who know dick-all about policy.

    I am worried about the media, though, and expect to see headlines tomorrow night like

    OBAMACARE ON THE ROPES
    President today only “Really Very Good”, rather than “Astounding.”

  58. 58
    Toni says:

    @Dennis G.: I agree. It is an unusual position for many of them because when they get interviewed reporters let them get by with just talking points. It is like they have stopped teaching the art of the follow-up question in journalism classes.

  59. 59
    Martin says:

    @tyrese:

    Many of his opponents are, like Mike Pence, nitwits who know dick-all about policy.

    Name one GOP at the meeting that isn’t an idiot on health care? My mom knows Grassley. She’s a Republican and says he’s an idiot on HCR. They got nothing.

  60. 60
    tyrese says:

    GOP MEMBERS FAIL TO LITERALLY CRAP THEMSELVES
    *NBC’s Chuck Todd explains why Obama agenda “totally over”
    *David Broder explains why public he never talks to prefers bipartisan bill written by John Boehner
    ….

  61. 61
    minachica says:

    @Brian J: I apologize for misunderstanding your post. I was (trying my inept best at) snarking on Ailes’ pathetic defense of FOX News: that Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck, etc. do mere “commentary”, and thus the “news” crew at FOX shouldn’t be lumped in with those crazies *wink wink*.
    I’ve been applying the same standard to the WSJ as I do to FOX since then. Perhaps unfairly.

  62. 62
    tyrese says:

    Name one GOP at the meeting that isn’t an idiot on health care? My mom knows Grassley. She’s a Republican and says he’s an idiot on HCR. They got nothing.

    I used to be a conservative. (Bunch of stuff deleted because I don’t want to start a boring argument about definitons) Long story short, I didn’t leave conservatism. As the conservative movement transmogrified into a collection of the stupidest ideas and people on the planet, I was pushed out.

    I know that American health care is inferior to France’s, pollution is bad, evolution is real, cutting taxes does not automatically boost gummint revenue, regulations aren’t always worse, the free market doesn’t work best completely unrestrained, regulated capitalism is not identical to Maoist Stalinism, torture is evil and counterproductive, welfare does not go 98% to black people, Bill Clinton was not a Bond Villain, taxes aren’t the highest they’ve ever been in history EVAR, religious freedom is a pretty good thing…

    there’s simply no way a person like that can be a modern american conservative. I’m not a deranged moron.

  63. 63
    Brian J says:

    @minachica:

    Oh, I see. No worries.

  64. 64
    carlos the dwarf says:

    will there be anyone live-blogging it?

  65. 65
    Brian J says:

    @Martin:

    I’d like to think that at least some Republicans have good/not ridiculous ideas about health care reform. But at the same time, I haven’t seen any willingness to legitimately engage the Democrats in a debate about what would work best, because all of them are interested in denying the Democrats a chance at accomplishing something major.

  66. 66
    Toni says:

    Isn’t McCain going? Hopefully he is better prepared for this than he was for that bailout meeting he suspended his campaign for (or as he remembers it Obama suspended his campaign too).

  67. 67
    minachica says:

    @Brian J: Glad to know I can sleep sweet dreams tonight.

  68. 68
    Comrade Mary says:

    @tyrese:

    I know that American health care is inferior to France’s, pollution is bad, evolution is real, cutting taxes does not automatically boost gummint revenue, regulations aren’t always worse, the free market doesn’t work best completely unrestrained, regulated capitalism is not identical to Maoist Stalinism, torture is evil and counterproductive, welfare does not go 98% to black people, Bill Clinton was not a Bond Villain, taxes aren’t the highest they’ve ever been in history EVAR, religious freedom is a pretty good thing…

    Awesome. All that’s missing from that laundry list is this

  69. 69
    Brian J says:

    @minachica:

    Is that sarcasm? Is that sass, young lady? Wait a minute, are you chewing gum in my class?

  70. 70
    minachica says:

    @Brian J: Umm, yes sir, sorry sir. I’ll spit it out… please don’t give me detention?

  71. 71
    patroclus says:

    Personally, I’m expecting a 6+ hour wankfest of Washingtonspeak with a LOT of preening, grandstanding, dissembling and posturing larded on top.

  72. 72
    Brian J says:

    @minachica:

    Yikes, I did just get a flashback to sixth grade. I should end this joke before I call someone (aka a teacher) a bitch and get an in-school suspension.

  73. 73
    Brian J says:

    @patroclus:

    I predict a centrist, bipartisan, deficit-reducing, strong-on-terror, strong-on-defense, strong-on-the-heartland, strong-on-families, business friendly, back-to-the-drawing board approach, where the two parties cut the bullshit, and, um…other stuff. Did I miss any of the buzzwords?

  74. 74
    minachica says:

    @Brian J: “In-school suspension”? ‘You must be a spring chicken. When I was in sixth grade in the 80’s, our principal had a paddle that he used regularly with no apparent backlash (no pun) from parents. Of course this was in a “suburb” of Wichita KS…

  75. 75
    Martin says:

    @Brian J: Oh, I don’t doubt that there are many conservatives/Republicans that have good ideas on health care (I know quite a few that do have good ideas, in fact). But we know who is going to be in that meeting and none of those guys have a fucking clue.

  76. 76
    Brian J says:

    @Martin:

    Maybe. I don’t know exactly who knows what. For all I know, Boehner absorbs this stuff left and right. (I doubt it, but maybe he’s a good actor.) Regardless, he’s not going to go in there with anything substantive. Nor will anyone else. To do that would be to help Obama, even in some slight way. And come hell or high water, they won’t do that.

  77. 77
    Brian J says:

    @minachica:

    Yes, I am young.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    I just realized — Obama has pulled the same maneuver with the Republicans that he did during the campaign when McCain announced he was going to suspend his campaign and (not incidentally) cancel his appearance at their next scheduled debate.

    Obama basically said, “Do what you want, John, but I’ll be at that debate, and if you’re not there, I’ll talk to the American people without you.” McCain got his ass to the debate right quick and then got that ass handed to him by Obama. And yet I’m sure the Republicans are totally convinced that this time it’s going to be totally different and they’ll win.

    Republicans. They never learn.

  79. 79
    minachica says:

    @Brian J: Touché

  80. 80
    Dave C says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Thanks a bunch! :)

  81. 81
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Jon Stewart nailed ’em tonight. Absolutely nailed ’em. Can’t wait for the video.

  82. 82
    Batocchio says:

    I don’t see a downside to this summit (barring really unusual circumstances). While I doubt the GOP will budge, or the chattering class will stop being vapid twits, it might help for selling reform, and can’t really hurt.

  83. 83
    mcc says:

    It seems to me the most important thing about tomorrow is the Republicans refusal to actually properly participate, and what that refusal means.

    To wit, Obama said: We need to make it clear what each party stands for in this debate. If the Republicans have ideas they want included in health care reform they have to tell us what they are. The Democrats will post our plan ahead of the conference. The Republicans must post theirs.

    The Republicans flat-out refused. In fact, their only contribution was to attack the idea of having plans or ideas. The Republicans are coming tomorrow morning with a “clean sheet of paper”, and specifically attacked the Democrats for not being willing to do the same.

    It’s being reported that tomorrow the Republicans will present “plans” tomorrow. A “six point plan” is referred to. Which they haven’t posted ahead of time. Probably this just means they’ll vaguely allude to several already existing Republican ideas and proposals, none of which they will articulate specifically that it can be criticized, or stand behind clearly enough that the Democrats can make an offer like “okay. we’ll put it in the bill. will you vote for it?”

    The Republicans rather than participating in this event have just been trying to turn it into a substanceless farce, hoping that if they ruin the event people will notice the event going badly but won’t notice the Republicans behaving badly. Will it work? Because it might. I don’t think most of the public will be specifically aware of the extent to which the Republicans have been entering this event in bad faith.

    I notice Obama gets the opening statement tomorrow morning. What I want to know is whether he finds a way to call out the Republicans for refusing to offer any alternatives… or finds a way to point out that attacking Democratic ideas while not being willing to stand behind any ideas of your own seems to just mean you don’t think the problem should be solved at all. (The fun thing about this question is that if Obama doesn’t do this, the Republicans will get free reign to continue evading responsibility, and if Obama does do this, the Republicans will be able to whine and say you see he invited us here to negotiate and then just attacked us.)

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    Yutsano says:

    @mcc: You know you’re in trouble when a Murdoch rag tells you you got nothin’. If those points are what they end up walking in with, Obama will wipe the floor with them. After that happens, then Nancy and Harry are officially on notice to get. this. shit. DONE.

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    valdivia says:

    I told you people NEVER trust the WSJ on an important story such as this. Plan B is BS.

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    @minachica: huh. Which suburb? (Wife grew up in Rose Hill, so…)

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    ChrisB says:

    @valdivia: That hasn’t stopped Chuck Todd et als speculating about whether and when Obama will opt for Plan B minutes before the start of the summit.

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    Dennis G. says:

    @tyrese:

    @Martin:

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Iowa with inlaws. Stories about how truly dumb and crude Grassley actually is are legend.

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    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I just realized—Obama has pulled the same maneuver with the Republicans that he did during the campaign when McCain announced he was going to suspend his campaign and (not incidentally) cancel his appearance at their next scheduled debate.
     
    Obama basically said, “Do what you want, John, but I’ll be at that debate, and if you’re not there, I’ll talk to the American people without you.” McCain got his ass to the debate right quick and then got that ass handed to him by Obama. And yet I’m sure the Republicans are totally convinced that this time it’s going to be totally different and they’ll win.

    I think this is good analysis as far as it goes, but there is an important part of the context missing. Obama is only able to do this when he has a direct line to the American people, not filtered through our idiot press. One of the most novel and important things about the Campaign 2008 debates was the audience reaction meters going in real time on CNN, because they made it harder for the pundits to lie and spin about how the debate went, and thence to construct an alternative reality in which McCain won. Ditto for the snap reaction polls after the debates.

    But these are very rare events (major campaign debates, to some degree the annual SOTU, major presidential speeches after a serious and important national trauma or before something big like starting a war) – it is not very often even the POTUS gets a chance to speak directly to the American people and have a non-trivial fracion of them tune in and listen. Most of the time our press and their ESPN Sports Center style capsule version of events are what almost all people get, instead of the real deal.

    And that is very much to the disadvantage of the Dems, especially if they are serious about policy. Our press is about 50 percent GOP ratfnckers in disguise just looking for how best to screw the Dems, and the other 50 percent are upper class twits who are so deeply unserious that they are simply dangerous to have around at any time – they are like the guy on the bomb disposal squad who spends all his time tapping people on the shoulder and then running away, when he isn’t playing hackey-sack, making armpit farts and messing around with empty paper bags full of air that go “BOOM” when you smack them.

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