Thursday, the White House will go head-to-head with the Winter Olympics in the television ratings pool. The competition doesn't seem to bother the President, who is ready to show the world that he, too, is on top of his game in the most important televised debate of his term. With the health care summit less than a week away, the GOP has agreed to participate--but reluctantly. "President Obama is setting the guest list and holding the event on his home turf," the Examiner points out, "so Republicans know they face a politically treacherous situation."
Unfortunately for the minority, that situation was complicated by the news that the President isn't waiting for Thursday's dialogue to finalize the bills. Instead, he hinted that the administration is putting together its own plan without any input--a rumor that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed at last week's press conference. According to insiders, the bill was crafted behind the scenes with a handful of pro-abortion leaders and special interest groups. Clearly, the President has no intention of moving forward in a bipartisan manner or negotiating in good faith. To him, this is political theater--an Obama production that uses Republicans as props to disarm the American people. The White House is saying, "Come, let us reason together," while his staff is in the back room polishing off the plan.
Leader Boehner (R-Ohio) called it a "mockery" of the President's call for an "open forum." "We don't need a six-hour infomercial for the latest Democratic backroom deal," Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "We need to start over on real health care reforms to lower costs." Despite being at a political disadvantage, some in the GOP are confident that Republicans can win the "battle of ideas." They're right--but only if they make the issue of life a centerpiece in Thursday's debate. Despite the many versions of reform, the most popular portion of any bill was Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) amendment to ban taxpayer-funded abortion. Having passed through the House with the support of 64 Democrats and 176 Republicans, it was the only issue on which both parties overwhelmingly agreed. On February 25, the GOP must make the Stupak language a condition of future support--or miss the greatest opportunity to steal the President's show.