Here we go again. Obama is reaching out to Republicans one more time, convening a health care summit in hopes of crafting a bipartisan bill with a party that wants nothing to do with bipartisanship. If anything, Republicans, emboldened by Scott Brown’s surprise victory in Massachusetts, see obstructionism as the way to success at the polls. They’re going along, of course, because they have to at least pretend to want to work across the aisle. Their modest proposals for health care reform, which, if enacted, might extend coverage to about 5 percent of the nation’s uninsured, and which do nothing to contain costs, are so at odds with the president’s more sweeping proposals there is little chance that this summit will be anything but political theater.
Obama still seems reluctant to call the GOP out. The party that loudly demanded up and down votes on the Senate floor for Bush’s nominees now holds all of Obama’s hostage for months on the flimsiest of grounds–the latest being Richard Shelby’s hold on 70 nominees if he didn’t get an earmark for his state. It now takes 60 votes to accomplish anything in the Senate, thanks to the GOP’s filibuster of everything and anything. In the bizarre math of the current political paralysis, 41 votes defeats 59. And the inability of Democrats to accomplish anything in this environment appears to imperil their majority in November. President Obama, Mr. Cool, still refuses to raise his voice. The only people who seem to be genuinely angry, for all the wrong reasons, are the Tea Party loonies. Meanwhile, the country suffers.