A recent poll suggests that fifty-seven percent of American surveyed believe that statistics can be misleading. With that in mind, President Obama forged ahead with his forum on health care. alas, unlike the Beer Summit so many months ago, there wasn't much in the way of refreshments to be had there. There wasn't much refreshing to be found at Blair House on Thursday at all. Contentious, confrontational, critical and many other words that start with "c" could be used to describe the seven and a half hour discussion of competing ideologies, but "complete" would not be among them.
President Obama put aside suggestions of starting over, or moving ahead in smaller steps. He wants it all. Now. His proposed overhaul of the health care system is now a year old, and it sits atop a pile of other attempts made in the last fifty years. What was billed as an attempt to bridge partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans ended with the suggestion that he would encourage his party to push legislation through without the support of the Grand Old Party. After all, isn't that what a majority is for?
Then it all comes down to the mid-term elections. If that majority disappears, then all that momentum goes out the window while the divide grows deeper still. I wasn't able to watch the entire debate, since like many Americans I found myself hard at work during those hours, but I did tune in for a few choice exchanges. To read the media's version of it, it was a knock-down, dragout slugfest with plenty of yelling and screaming. There were plenty of pursed lips and terse words, but no name-calling and plenty of outward respect. The contempt that is supposed to exist between the two sides was mostly in evidence when one member of the Congress cut another off, or when the President exerted his authority and his professor's voice on those with whom he disagreed.
That's why I think it would have been much better if beer had been served. Loosen everybody up first, let decorum slip a little, and then see what comes of it. Like they say on MTV, "It's what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real." It's time to get real about health care in America.