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So what will be the basic Obama/Gibbs media takeaway from the healthcare summit? I figure there are three main possibilities:

  1. “I’m disappointed that Republicans just fell back on the same old talking points instead of having a serious discussion.”
  2. “Our differences turned out to be pretty fundamental after all: we want to tackle real problems and Republicans just want to tinker around the edges. But I’m convinced the American people prefer something to nothing.”
  3. “I’m grateful that Republicans had some good ideas, but they fell far short of addressing our real problems.”

If I were president, I’d choose #1. Luckily, I’m not, and I figure Obama will pretty much choose #3. The initial reaction of the press, however, appears to be “Jesus, what a waste of time.”

Which it pretty much was.1 As an aside, this is why I wasn’t very excited about the idea of holding regular versions of the “question time” that Obama held with congressional Republicans last month. They got taken by surprise then, but there was never any chance that would happen a second time. And it didn’t. They were armed with every talking point in the book this time, and some of those talking points resonate pretty well. What you saw today is about what any future question time would look like.

1Just to be clear, I mean a waste of time substantively. In terms of its impact on the politics and public opinion of healthcare reform, we’ll have to wait and see.

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