Today, President Barack Obama had a tremendous opportunity to do what he apparently has been unable to do for more than one year now: explain to the American people what his health care proposal would do to benefit the widest range and number of people possible while avoiding catastrophic expenses on an individual or national basis. He and his supporters have stated, repeatedly, that the problem with the American people has been that we just have not yet understood the plan, and, if the President could have just one more chance, in a colleagial environment with himself, his Party leaders, and a few Republicans ... finally together on television ... then he could help us all see the light.
Since the historic November 2008 election, the President and his supporters have set their sights on his version of health care reform, but despite enormous public good will upon his inauguration, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and a large majority in the House, and a fawning national media eager to aid and abet his plan, the President has been unable to get any legislation passed. Even so, it seemed that today's bi-partisan summit might be the long-awaited opportunity for breakthrough. Despite the fact that only 25% of the American public (CNN Poll) expresses approval for the Obama/Reid/Pelosi health plan, the Anointed Troika have promised to get the deal done; Obama himself put his imprimatur on the plan earlier this week, re-emphasizing his commitment to the most Leftist elements and further alienating Moderate Democrats, Independants, and Conservatives.
If that stumble earlier this week portended trouble for today, then Obama's actual performance in the summit represents a significant fumble. He repeatedly demonstrated impatience, arrogance, and confusion; he couldn't seem to get on the same page as his own advisors, including Vice President Joe Biden. When someone can make Joe Biden sound lucid, that person is having a bad day. When it comes to actual knowledge of what his bill contains, fact-checkers are going to have a field day with Obama's tenuous grasp today on what this 2,400 page monstrosity will actually accomplish or cost. His highly partisan and patronizing style of moderating the meeting (and clock management) perfectly stood perched astride "boring" and "offensive". All that was missing was some Algoreean eye-rolling, huffing, and puffing. His embarrasingly ungracious response to John McCain will make many Americans re-evalute which of the two is actually the crotchety one. And, treating Eric Cantor with disrespect says far more about Obama than it does about Cantor.
When history writes how President Obama botched healthcare reform, it's hard to know at which point he began to trip and fall, but today may well be remembered as the day he finally lost the ball.