Big Bipartisan Healthcare Summit Review

So yesterday was the Big Bipartisan Healthcare Summit, and my colleague at CifA, Sahil Kapur, perfectly sums up the event: "Thursday's much-hyped bipartisan healthcare summit was a predictably fruitless political showcase. Republicans knew coming into it they wouldn't reverse a year of frenzied opposition to healthcare reform under any circumstances, and Democrats knew the prospect of GOP co-operation was laughable on its face. That's how it began, and that's how it ended."

I keep reading over and over this morning that this was the final straw, and now Obama and the Democratic leadership will forge on without regard for the Republicans: "Obama listened politely for six hours, with occasional flashes of temper, but in the end, the message was clear: It's over. We're moving forward without Republicans," writes Greg Sargent.

And Steve Benen notes: "In effect, yesterday was about both sides asking the other a fundamental question. Obama's question for Republicans was, 'We're offering a bipartisan, comprehensive package built around principles you claim to support. Are you willing to work with us?' Republicans came with their own question: 'Will you throw out all the work you've done and promise to let us kill reform with a filibuster?' Both sides have the same answer to the competing questions: 'No.' The difference is, Democrats are the governing majority, and the party's leaders see no reason to make Republican satisfaction a prerequisite for success."

This is no knock on either one of those fine writers, whose observations are absolutely right, but I am left wondering, yet again, what was the goddamn point of wasting an entire year—not to mention enormous amounts of political capital, progressive goodwill, and, quite literally, thousands of American lives—to come to the conclusion that healthcare reform will just have to move ahead without the help of the Republicans, who indicated from DAY FUCKING ONE that they were going to offer naught but obdurate obstructionism?

I guess I finally understand the objective of 12-dimensional chess: To end up with the board looking exactly the same as when you started, but sitting across from a stronger opponent.

Paul Krugman: "So what did we learn from the summit? What I took away was the arrogance that the success of things like the death-panel smear has obviously engendered in Republican politicians. At this point they obviously believe that they can blandly make utterly misleading assertions, saying things that can be easily refuted, and pay no price. And they may well be right."

Digby, looking at the media response, finds, naturally, that they are right. The media is declaring the GOP the victor. Digby notes that CNN analyst David Gergen proclaimed, I shit you not: "Intellectually, the Republicans had the best day they've had in years. The best day they've had in years."

And check out this typical headline from that liberal media outlet CBS: "The Summit Was a Tie—and That's Good News for GOP." Even when the Republicans tie, they win!

And all they needed to do to "tie" apparently was not completely lose it and start flinging their own shit at the president like caged monkeys, because they sure didn't win on facts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used the occasion of the summit to scold his Republican colleagues: "You're entitled to your opinions, but not your own facts. Your opinion is something that is yours and you're entitled to that, but not your own facts."

But the truth is, they are entitled to their own facts, because the media lets them say whatever the fuck they want and, as long as they look confident saying it, declare them the winners.

This is a narrative that media watchdogs like Eric Boehlert and Bob Somerby have been documenting for years. And yet President Obama and the Democratic leadership are so arrogant or daft or delusional that they evidently believed it will be different for us!

I cannot begin to convey the depth of my contempt for this administration's patent refusal to surrender its belief that the game can be changed by foolishly pretending that the rules simply don't apply to them.

People have died in the last year because they didn't have health coverage, while Obama & Co. fucked around trying to win an ideological battle that they were never. going. to. win.

Me, almost a year ago: "The Democrats should concede nothing to the altar of bipartisanship and corporatism. They can water down legislation until it's not remotely progressive and unlikely to even be effective, but it still won't be enough for the right-leaning interests in this country to do anything but try to kill it and kill it and kill it, and anything resembling it, until they get what they want. And what they want isn't good for the American people. Which is why they should be roundly ignored."

I've said what feels like a hundred times in the last year that any attempt to compromise with the GOP is utter folly, because you can't negotiate with someone whose position is "No." And I resent bitterly that this administration's insistence on ignoring something so patently obvious, in pursuit of indulgent and ultimately vain political gamesmanship, has ended up where we are today, in the same place we started, but with countless people sicker than they had to be, broker than they had to be, or dead, when they didn't have to be.

In other news that makes me want to smash things...

The public option never even got a mention at the summit, which doesn't mean there aren't still the few, the proud, the authentic progressives in both houses of Congress who are still valiantly fighting for it:
The Senate has the 50 votes necessary to pass a public health insurance option using the budget reconciliation process, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday.

Sanders, a self-described "democratic socialist" who supports the government-run plan, urged President Barack Obama to push for the public option even though the possibility of passing it appeared to die this week.

"I think we do have 50 votes in the Senate for a public option and frankly I don't know why the president has not put it in and I hope that we can inject it," Sanders said on MSNBC. "I think it's a very important part of healthcare reform."
I'm with you, Bernie. Perplexed and pissed and still hoping, despite all evidence of its futility, for something good to come out of this huge, stinking, disgusting mess.

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