Sen. John McCain went on Meet the Press with David Gregory and continued to air the grievances of the Republican Party with regards to health care reform and reiterated again why this was not a bipartisan bill:
“This was not bipartisan…This bill was written by Democrats, for Democrats, and then they tried--and I understand power--what they tried to do was peel off a couple of Republicans, as he did with the stimulus bill, and call it bipartisan. It's not bipartisan. I know bipartisanship, and with all due respect to any of our other observer, let's start over, then. It's not too late.”
Between Meet the Press and This Week, three top Republicans—Rep. Eric Cantor, Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. John McCain have reiterated their wish to “start over” on this bill because it was not “bipartisan” because they were not included in the inception and the writing of this bill and that the process according to Sen. McCain was “unsavory”.
It was only on Thursday, where these same Republicans claimed to have the ability of reading the minds of the American people said that the bill as it stands needed to be scrapped because it’s what the “American people want”. The poll taken before the health summit on Thursday has found “that three-fourths of Americans still think it's important that Obama include health care reform in addressing the nation's economic crisis — even if many have misgivings.”
The Republicans on the Sunday news shows now seem more upset at the fact that they weren’t invited to the party (versus doing what the American people want) and because they weren’t invited to write the bill now they don’t want to join the party midway. Recent polling numbers have shown that the American public are warming up to the idea of comprehensive health care reform and should the bill pass, gets enacted and is a great success, Republicans will not be able to claim any credit for it and this is beginning to worry them, hence the consistent cries of starting over on a clean sheet of paper.
BBC News reporter Katty Kay blew the topic wide open by saying: “I think to some extent, the whole debate, politically, about reconciliation, is a little bit of a red herring, because, if this bill passes and it proves to be popular with the American people, it will be judged on its merits. If it passes and proves to be unpopular, it would also be judged on those merits. People will soon forget how it was passed. That's what happened with welfare reform. It took all of us a little while to dig out our books and remember that welfare reform was actually passed through reconciliation. People don't remember the bickering beforehand. They will vote for--they will support or not support this bill on its merits.”
A very important point that was overlooked by the Republicans: the “merits of the bill”. For all its supposed lack of bipartisanship, the bill has its own merits that cannot be discredited, no matter who was excluded in the process of writing the bill. Cokie Roberts on This Week echoed similar sentiments. She has doubts about the Democrat’s ability to gather the 217 votes needed in the House and the 51 votes needed in the Senate to pass the bill, nevertheless, Democrats “have to say their prayers, vote for the bill and hope it works for them”, since a new Kaiser poll says that 58% of Americans would be “angry or disappointed” if health care reform didn’t pass. Sam Donaldson suggested even a more drastic approach by adding the public option back in the bill because now it will strictly be the “Democrat’s bill” and any trace of bipartisanship will have vanished should they pass the bill by reconciliatory votes. Donaldson also said the president should drop any façade of kindness and be like Ulysses Grant—“brutal”, winning battles by being indifferent to its casualties--even if it results in seat losses in Congress, as they will only be temporary.
Many criticized the president for doing too little too late when he hosted the health summit this past Thursday, but he achieved several objectives. First, he showed the American public what he has had to deal with in the first year of his presidency, an opposition party headed by sore losers who are full of anger and resentment. Second, Republicans won’t play ball with him even though they agreed with many of the main points, all because they didn’t have it their way. Third, the president had a chance to correct a lot of the misconceptions and untruths that were said about the bill. Fourth, if the president has to “ram it through” the Senate and the House and he wants to show the American people why such a drastic option is only way this bill will pass.