- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2010

Well, if the health care summit represents what the Democrats view as a bipartisanship sharing of ideas when they are in public, one can only wonder how imbalanced the private meetings are. In order, the summits lead speakers were President Obama, Sen. Lamar Alexander, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and then Mr. Obama again. Democrats allowed themselves time to speak first to frame the issue and then provide multiple rebuttals to what the Republican Mr. Alexander said.

During the morning session, Democrats took 108 minutes and Republicans had only 56 minutes. When Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, the only physician in the Senate, started speaking during the morning session, Sen. Reid forcefully interrupted Mr. Coburn in mid-sentence saying, “I don’t know much about … but I do know a filibuster when I see one.”

When asked about the imbalance of time, Mr. Obama boasted, “I don’t count my time because I’m the president.” And he noted that if his time were removed, the two sides were fairly equally balanced. While it is true that the Democrats time minus Mr. Obama’s time was about equal to the Republicans, it’s hard to believe Mr. Obama was serious about such a canard, but apparently he was. Time after time, his interruptions were made to correct what he claimed were factual errors in Republican comments, but Republicans were not given chances to immediately respond to his claims.

Mr. Obama attacked Mr. Alexander as “not factually accurate” over statements that, “The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise in the individual market as a result of the Senate bill.” The president wouldn’t even back down from the assertion when he was shown a copy of a November 2008 letter from CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf making that exact point. Such obnoxiousness was not limited to Mr. Obama. Mr. Reid’s rebuttal to Mr. Alexander was typically irreverent: “Again, Lamar, you’re entitled to your opinion but not your own facts.” What made this attack particularly grating was that Mr. Reid spent little time discussing any facts.

As time passed, it became clear why Democrats felt it was necessary to monopolize the clock. Despite Democrat’s claims for months that Republicans are the party of “no,” the Republicans kept pointing to numerous ideas they have tried to push for the last year, and they did an excellent job explaining their positions. Even liberals such as CNN’s David Gergen admitted: “The folks in the White House just must be kicking themselves right now. They thought that coming out of Baltimore when the president went in and was mesmerizing and commanding in front of the House Republicans that he could do that again here today. That would revive health care and would change the public opinion about their health care bill and they can go on to victory. Just the opposite has happened.”

Mr. Gergen also observed that the president “doesn’t have a strong Democratic team behind him.” Hopefully a lot of Americans were able to watch the presentations today. The ballyhooed bipartisan summit was a rout won by the opposition.

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