He used healthcare as a central focus for demonstrating his new found desire for bipartisanship. He even suggested that Democrats and Republicans work together on it. This was a novel idea, for up till that point, Republicans have been locked out of the closed door meetings that took place among Democrats in an attempt to muster enough votes among themselves to pass their combined 5,000 pages of healthcare reforms.
Meanwhile, contrary to Democrat denials, Republicans presented their own proposals for consideration. These proposals are on the record. But due to Democrat’s desire to only reach consensus among members of their own majority and through their own ideas, none of these Republican proposals were considered.
And still despite, having once had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and despite their overwhelming majority in the House, Democrats could not even successfully deliver on their very own ideas.
So now, after annoying the American people with both a bill that was too far reaching, too invasive and in some regards too punishing, and after having further annoyed the public with the way in which they tried to pass such unwanted legislation, President Obama pretended to seek bipartisanship cooperation.
Which brings us to this past Thursday’s Healthcare Summit…….the “bipartisan” Healthcare Summit.
The event could have been used to really start a “roll up our sleeves”, get down to work, serious process that involved both sides of the political spectrum……..both sides of the aisle that were elected to represent all segments of the American electorate.
It could have.
But all hope of such a dream coming to fruition was dashed when, just days before the bipartisanship summit, President Obama threw down, for the first time, his own proposed government healthcare takeover bill.
He is the President of the United States. As such, to present a proposal of his own is not inappropriate. In fact I am on record as admonishing President Obama from not having presented his own proposed starting point legislation from the very beginning. He needn’t have written the entire bill, as did Hillary Clinton in 1993. But as a leader, a proposed starting point that outlined his vision would have not only been acceptable, it would have appropriately been the right thing to do.
But such was never the case. Not until a few days prior to the so-called bipartisan healthcare summit.
Of the President’s proposed bill, it could have been said better late than never. It could have. But as it turned out it was not.
President Obama simply took the two strictly partisan bills that his Party assembled in the House and in the Senate and combined them into one bill. Not only was this a lack of leadership on the President’s part, it was genuine evidence of President Obama’s total lack of sincerity as it pertains to his claimed newfound appreciation of bipartisanship. That demonstrated lack of sincerity and his breaking of his promise to start over on the healthcare debate, immediately undermined any promise that may have once existed in Thursday’s healthcare summit.
President Obama could have been a leader and set the tone for bipartisanship by incorporating some of the Republican proposals into his own. He could have changed some of the most egregious proposals contained in the Senate and House versions of the strictly partisan Democrat bills.
But he did not.
Instead of setting an example and leading with a healthcare proposal that formulated some initiatives by incorporating ideas from both sides of the aisle, he simply said, here it is!. Here is the same partisan bill that we could not pass before but will now, because now I want bipartisanship.
From that point on, that act of total hypocrisy made the anticipated healthcare summit a failure before it started.
It became clear from that point on, that the President and his Democrat leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, were simply going through the motions, providing a creative talking point to turn into propaganda and try to claim that they tried to work with Republicans
Such was not the case, and in the end, the bipartisan healthcare summit was the failure that President Obama doomed it to be when he threw down the same partisan proposal that dragged us into the mud that we are mired in today.
The summit did produce a number of good sound bites. From New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s description of a woman wearing her dead sister’s dentures, to President Obama telling Senator John McCain “the campaign was over”, many memorable gems were mined out of the hours of discussion. But none of it mattered. No one walked away from the summit table invigorated by a new working environment or new platform to work from. Instead, the most that could be said to have come out of the summit was that both parties agreed to continue disagreeing over the same bill that most Americans have said they do not want.
In the end all the President achieved with his summit charade was to reinforce the image of a very staged, arrogant, leader whose attempts at community organizing from the White House are doing little to organize an effective agenda or a bipartisan atmosphere for the nation..
Bipartisanship to President Obama is voting not present. To him bipartisanship is both sides of the aisle assembling together to listen to him spew rhetorical prose and all walk away enamored by his words and convinced that his way is the only way.
President Obama has done nothing to promote bipartisanship accept discuss it as though it were some kind of foreign concept that he brought to America. But his words do no service to the concept when his deeds are as a partisan as a Boston Red Sox fan cheering on his time as they play the Yankees at Fenway.
In stark contrast to this President’s commitment to bipartisanship, just a few days into his first term in office, President George W. Bush began trying to bridge the vast ideological and partisan political gap that is everpresent. One of his first guests to the White House residence for dinner and a movie was Senator Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate. Yet one of the only incumbent Republicans to be invited to break bed with President Obama was Congressman Joseph Cao of Louisiana. Nearly a full year into the Obama presidency, after being the only Republican in the House to vote for that chambers government healthcare scheme, President Obama invited Cao to be the only Republican office holder at his White House Super Bowl party.
Clearly President Obama’s version of bipartisanship is quite different than most other peoples version. Their version might make progress on healthcare reform. President Obama’s feigned attempts to reach across the aisle simply makes healthcare a victim of his version of bipartisanship. And in the long run, for all the hype and promotion that President Obama applied to this epic charade, the end result will ultimately be an increasilgly more negative public opinion towards a man who still believes that his words are a magic elixir that soothes all our objections away. Meanwhile, in reality, this saga will ultimnately backfire on the President and all the hype which proved to be for nothing, will deal the President a loss of even more credibility than most of his entire first year in office has cost him..