McCain and Obama Get Testy; Obama Can't Defend PhRMA Deal
1:12 PM, Feb 25, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
ABC News notes this exchange between former campaign adversaries Barack Obama and John McCain, which will probably end up being the headline out of the summit, but it revealed something beyond sore egos from '08:
Improbably, Obama ended up sounding like his was the sorer ego in the fight. The exchange came after Obama had tried to cut off McCain, and McCain had steamed ahead. What was more telling than the echoes of 2008, however, was which of McCain's concerns Obama answered and which he didnt.
McCain has the facts on his side. Hearings were not on C-SPAN, and the sweetheart deals created by Democrats during the ugly legislative process mean the bills on the table favor some states and constituencies over others based on how much clout their representatives and lobbyists have in D.C.
That was exactly what Obama campaigned against, but it has nonetheless come to pass in a very colorful way in the health-care reform process. What the ABC report doesn't mention is that a large portion of McCain's comments were about the $80 billion deal Obama made with PhRMA, almost entirely behind closed doors, granting the pharmaceutical industry carve-outs and influence over the final bill.
Read this thorough tick-tock of how the deal came together to get a sense of the true gap between Obama's rhetoric on transparency and reality. It's a part of the health-care legislative process that has united Left and Right in disgust. Here's a taste:
In Obama's answer to McCain, he addressed the accusations about the C-SPAN promise with his usual argument— that a lot of stuff was televised, even if his specific promise was not kept. He said not a word in his defense over the PhRMA deal.
He can't defend it. Maybe that's what got him so ticked off.