Thanks, Anna, for the running commentary. Here’s my take.
An absorbing discussion. Surprising too. Before I say more, I’ll remind you of my biases. I’m in favour of comprehensive healthcare reform. I’m aware of the substantive flaws in the Democrats’ bills, and the political risks; even so I wish the House would pass the unrevised Senate bill. Failing that, I think the Senate bill plus revisions through reconciliation, as trailed in Obama’s merged proposal, would be much better than nothing.
Nobody expected breakthroughs at the summit and none happened. If it mattered at all, which is debatable, the meeting was about political momentum and the mood of the Democratic party’s wavering centrists. Measured that way, it was a good day for Republicans.
In a difficult role, Obama did well. But the Republicans (not counting John Boehner) did well too–much better than I would have guessed. They came across as serious and respectful. With only a couple of exceptions, the congressional Democrats were bad. They got off to a poor start with weary pro forma statements by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and never really recovered. Mostly, they made the case for reform in general–heavy as always on the personal stories–rather than for their bills in particular.