Gibbs to GOP: Nope, We're Not Starting Over on Health Care
But there may be something to gain at the president's forum.
12:25 PM, Feb 9, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
When Republican leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner sent a letter looking for assurances that they and their ideas might be considered at Obama's proposed bipartisan health-care forum, they got this response:
This lends credence to the idea on the Right (Matt Continetti noted it), that Obama's bipartisan conference will be pure theater— "Here's the same plan we've been pitching for a year that almost everyone hates! If you say you still don't like it, you're what's wrong with Washington."
I tend to think Republicans should attend the bipartisan conference because refusing to do so makes them look far more like obstructionists than voting against a bill everyone hates ever has. People like these forums, and Republicans not participating gives Obama a bigger win than he could earn if they showed up.
Is Obama good in this setting? Sure. And, he was widely given credit for having "won" the day the last time he met with the GOP conference to talk incessantly and ironically about how politics shouldn't be about "winning" the day.
But I argued at the time of the GOP conference meeting that getting Republican alternatives on national television, and forcing Obama to acknowledge they exist was ultimately good for the GOP and bad for the "obstructionist" argument.
Could it have made a difference already? Today, the New York Times prints this serious treatment of GOP alternatives, with this rather sanguine opening paragraph:
Read the whole thing. A perusal of the reporter's health-care writing archives reveals the last story he wrote focused on the GOP was headlined, "Hopes dim, GOP still vows to fight health-care bill." Today's "On health care, GOP road is a new map" is certainly a better story for Republican p.r. More importantly, it's a better story for market alternatives offered by the GOP, which are in line with the more modest approach Americans want: