The liberal media coverage following Thursday’s health care summit took the White House’s intentions and made them into the result. They said bipartisanship failed, with President Obama trying to make ends meet while Democrats and Republicans turned the summit into a political charade.
ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper reported Thursday afternoon, “From the Republicans, some old arguments, and some new frustrations for the President.”
“Some of the squabbles were about smaller things,” Tapper said, referring to remarks by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) on disparity in speaking time between Democrats and Republicans. At that point, Sen. McConnell said, Democrats had 52 minutes to their name, while Republicans had 24 minutes.
“Some seemed rooted in fights from the past,” Tapper said, with coverage immediately bringing up video of a frustrated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reminding Obama that both had campaigned in 2008 on bringing “change” to Washington, and that the initial health care legislation was full of backroom deals.
“John, we’re not campaigning anymore, the election is over,” the President curtly stated.
MSNBC covered the Obama-McCain exchange at least five times during the lunch break alone. Chris Matthews believed that calling the bill unsavory is a “strong character attack” on the President. “You have the make the deals…and they have to be somewhat shameful,” Matthews added, seemingly defending the health care legislation’s inclusion of backroom deals.
Matthews described McCain as “angry, he comes in there with that sort of angry aspect.”
Matthews continued, “And then the President’s going through his papers, to — like he’s distracted, like he’s got other things to do, while he’s doing all this, to show he’s above it all.”
“Once John McCain used phrases like ‘unsavory deal making’…at his most professorial, the President was going to show some attitude, and he did.”
“As the morning ran on, it was clear that Republican anger ran deep,” Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times wrote after the morning session. She then described “one of the liveliest exchanges” as coming between Obama and McCain.
“Mr. Obama’s task is to remind Americans of what they like in the bill, while beating down the Republicans’ assertion that it is a government takeover of health care,” Stolberg wrote.
“For weeks, Republicans have been deriding the event as ‘political theater,’ and to some extent, it is. But it is also an extraordinary moment—a president with his No. 1 legislative priority tantalizingly within reach, waging an unusual live televised conversation with the minority party in a last-ditch attempt to keep it from slipping out of his grasp.”
Chip Reid of CBS News wrote that President Obama “often seemed exasperated with Republican arguments while his fellow Democrats vigorously defended his plan and accused Republicans of coddling insurance companies.”
MSNBC once again brought up the McCain-Obama exchange Thursday night; Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, on a special edition of “Hardball,” said that President Obama did not seem disturbed by the exchange.
“The President didn’t seem very annoyed about it the whole time,” Todd said.
Savannah Guthrie, NBC News White House Correspondent, said that President Obama “knows he has the power. He knows the power differential. He exploits it and uses it to his advantage. That’s not knocking the President.”
Guthrie added that such actions come with the territory. “When people come to the White House, they’re on his turf.”
Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball,” spread criticisms around to all sides of the debate, including President Obama himself.
The Republicans selected a competitive group to attend the summit, Matthews added. “All the crazies were in the closet,” he said, naming Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.), and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) to start with.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was on “good behavior,” Matthews added, and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was on “pretty good behavior.”
Matthews also summarized the health care debate:
“Should every person who can’t afford health care be out there on their own? Or should there be a societal, public response to their need?”
Other news outlets reported the summit as a struggle between a magnanimous President willing to reach across party isles, and a “party of no.”
The Media Research Center reported on CBS’ Chip Reid’s summit analysis. “The President often seemed exasperated with Republican arguments,” Reid said.
“What he really wanted to do was convince the American people, and more importantly wavering Democrats in Congress, that the Republicans are the party of no. They won’t compromise, and now he has no choice but to move ahead with Democrats alone.”
David Herszenhorn of the New York Times wrote that Obama’s health care plan is “largely middle-of-the-road,” but he still faces resistance in getting it passed.
“While the forum was novel, Mr. Obama still seemed burdened with the challenges of having pursued a largely middle-of-the-road proposal that has hampered the Democrats all along,” Herszenhorn wrote.
“It has disappointed some in the party’s liberal base, especially without a public option. It holds little or no appeal for Republicans, and it confuses and scares many people in the middle.”
He maintained that the fundamental GOP issue at the summit was opposition for the sake of election, not any persuasion to take a different route on health care reform.
“The fundamental question facing Republicans was not whether they could persuade Democrats to take a different approach,” Herszenhorn continued, “but whether continuing their opposition in the wake of Mr. Obama’s grand gesture of bipartisanship could turn into a liability in a tense midterm election year.”
National Public Radio reported that President Obama “moderating the meeting, consistently sought to establish common ground.” Overall, however, “many of the participants argued passionately over details and personal preferences.”
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