Grading Obama at His Health Care Summit
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 25: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) speaks during his opening remarks during a bipartisan meeting to discuss health reform legislation with congressional members at the Blair House as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, listen February 25, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama hosted the televised meeting to discuss the health care legislation before the congress. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)
On the surface, the seven-hour, 30-minute marathan policy debate on health care reform may have not produced much beyond showing a live TV audience that the gulf between Democrats and Republicans couldn't be wider.
Even President Obama said as much. "We cannot have another yearlong debate about this," he said at the end of the summit, adding that he is unsure the Democrats can "bridge the gap" with the GOP to reach a compromise.
Despite the apparent setback, many observers rated the session as a success for the president while others crowed at the perceived failure of the very public talks:
- The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza included Obama among his list of "Winners" from the summit. "What Obama did do was paint himself -- for anyone who was watching -- as someone genuinely interested in compromise and genuinely interested in engaging with his Republican colleagues," he wrote. "Obama's performance saved, to our mind, what could have been a disastrous day for his party as he got relatively little help from his party's representatives in Congress throughout the day."
- Reuters' Caren Bohan put her magnifying glass on Obama's demeanor, noting that this was an unfiltered and long look at the president's "management style." "His tone was at times professorial, occasionally combative and at one point even dismissive of his 2008 rival for the presidency, Republican Senator John McCain," she wrote.
- The Atlantic's Clive Crook gave Obama high marks -- but he argued that it was a failure nonetheless. "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," he wrote. "The aim today was to discipline and energize Obama's allies, and to weaken and embarrass the Republicans. It backfired. This turned out to be a good day for the GOP."
- At The Corner, a blog on the conservative site National Review, Daniel Foster simply noted the stats. "According to Senate Republicans, President Obama spoke for 119 minutes, other Democrats for 114 minutes, and Congressional Republicans for 110 minutes," he wrote in a post titled "The Unforgiving Minutes" suggesting that Obama's performance was perhaps a little too heavy.
- Politico's Glenn Thrush wrote that there was no clear winner in the "gabfest," but argued Obama "wasn’t able to dominate them like he did last month during an encounter with House Republicans in Baltimore, when he delivered zingers high above the GOP from a conference room podium." Citing operatives on both sides of the aisle, Thrush writes "the tie goes to Republicans."