Friday, February 26, 2010

President Obama’s “Sarcastic Summit”

Today, the President held his "Healthcare Summit" at the White House, inviting Republicans and Democrats to come to the table for discussion on a "bi-partisan" solution to healthcare. However, we are now seeing that the President's pledge to hear both sides of the isle has again not come to fruition. A "talk clock" was kept by GOP aids and they timed the President speaking for 119 minutes – that's 9 minutes more than the 110 minutes Republicans used. The Democrats consumed 114 minutes, giving them a total of 233 minutes.

As the Washington Times puts it –

From the beginning, no one could agree on anything, even how much time each side had used. When a miffed Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, pointed out early on that Democrats had controlled 52 minutes to Republicans' 24, Mr. Obama jumped in to dispute even that.

"I don't think that's quite right," he said.

Sarcastic count #1.

With a twinkle in his eye, he added: "You're right, there was an imbalance on
the opening statements because - I'm the president."
Half the room laughed. "I
didn't count my time in terms of dividing it evenly."

Sarcastic count #2.

Each time a Republican sought to break in to rebut a point made by the president or a fellow Democrat, Mr. Obama looked a bit frustrated and made clear who was in
charge of the bipartisan discussion.

"Let me just finish, Lamar," he said during his rebuttal to the senator's opening
statement. "No, no, no, no. Let me - and this is an example of where we've got to get our facts straight," he said when Mr. Alexander sought to clarify a point.

Sarcastic count #3.

The bitterness that underlies the contentious health care reform debate burst to the surface fairly quickly, when Sen. John McCain, who lost to Mr. Obama in the 2008 election, lectured the president about what he called a backdoor process to produce the Senate bill.

John, can I just say -" Mr. Obama interrupted.

"Can I just finish, please?" Mr. McCain said tersely before continuing, refusing to yield the floor.

"Both of us during the campaign promised change in Washington," Mr. McCain said. "In fact, eight times [as a candidate] you said that negotiations on health care
reform would be broadcast on C-SPAN cameras. I'm glad that more than a year
later they are, here. Unfortunately, this product was not produced in that
fashion; it was produced behind closed doors."

Clearly irritated, Mr. Obama furiously flipped through the pages in a briefing book in front of him as Mr. McCain spoke. When he finished, the president teed off on his former adversary.

"Look, let me just make this point, John, because we are not campaigning anymore. The election's over," he said, staring at the Arizona Republican.

"I'm reminded of that every day," Mr. McCain shot back with a tight smile, adding
that despite that fact, "the American people care about what we did and how we
did it."

Mr. Obama didn't smile as he continued to scold the senator. "We can have a debate about process or we can have a debate about how we're actually going to help the American people at this point. And I think that the latter debate is the one that they care about a little bit more."

Annnd the icing on the cake – Sarcastic count #4.

The president also took a swipe at Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, who sat behind a 3-foot stack of papers - a copy of the legislation produced by the Senate.

"Lemme just guess: That's the 2,400-page health bill," he said, his voice
dripping with sarcasm. "When we do props like this, you know, stack it up, and you repeat 2,400 pages, et cetera, you know, the truth of the matter is that health care is very complicated. And we can try to pretend that it's not, but it is."

Let me just add that Mr. President wasn't the only one playing coy today. Nanci Pelosi pulled it off awfully well –

In hour six, a moment occurred that summed up the bipartisan spirit that existed in the room. Listing the problems with the Senate bill, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner concluded: "I could go on and on and on."

"You have," Mrs. Pelosi said with a tight smile.

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