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February 25, 2010

7.5 hours later

I watched virtually all of the health care summit, even though I initially intended to watch the beginning and then get some damn work done. Some random responses:

  • Obama kept the tone right. He continues to model democracy for us: People disagreeing but still treating one another with respect. The biggest lesson of the Obama presidency so far for me is what it looks like to consistently treat people with dignity.

  • Overall (i.e., there were certainly exceptions), the Democrats tried to find areas of agreement, while the Republicans pointed to areas of disagreement.

  • Overall, the higher up in the party leadership you were, the more likely you were to waste our time repeating talking points. (Not true for the President and Vice President.)

  • We ought to have a rule: no more anecdotes. We really don’t need to hear about relatives and constituents who were treated well or badly. It proves nothing. We already know the stakes are real and high. Now we need a policy.

  • The Republicans are better at staying on message. I wish the Democrats had responded to the Republican call for a “step by step” policy and “starting over” by saying “Give us an up-or-down vote on health care reform, and if it loses, we’ll start over and go step by step.” An “up-or-down vote” is the old Republic talking point that means a vote with a simple majority.

  • I was glad to see some of the Democrats push back against the Republicans’ ridiculous attempt to tell us that the Founding Fathers wanted a 60-vote majority in the Senate.

  • I think the Republicans came off well. A whole bunch of ideas that I thought were crazy I now think are merely wrong. Seriously. It was good to hear their thinking laid out, starting with Lamar Alexander, who I thought did an excellent job.

  • I’ll be surprised if this summit results in bipartisan legislation. But, it succeeded if only because it showed us what it’s like to have both parties in the same room acting like grownups.

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