The boss is despairing over an interview Eric Cantor gave to Fox News this afternoon at which he all but promises that they’ll be there, but watch the first clip below of Boehner after their meeting with The One this morning. Sure sounds like he’s sticking to yesterday’s demand about starting over on the bill with a clean slate, which Gibbs rejected in a statement last night and which, per the second clip below, Obama himself shot down at today’s presser on grounds that doing it that way is simply too uncertain and will take too long. Obama reportedly wants to go into the meeting with a draft of a final Reid/Pelosi compromise bill in hand and ask McConnell and Boehner which parts of it they’re willing to agree to and what they want in return for doing so. The temptation for the GOP is to simply turn down the invite, but note well this new WaPo poll:

Nearly six in 10 in the new poll say the Republicans aren’t doing enough to forge compromise with President Obama on important issues; more than four in 10 see Obama as doing too little to get GOP support. Among independents, 56 percent see the Republicans in Congress as too unbending and 50 percent say so of the president; 28 percent of independents say both sides are doing too little to find agreement.

As party leaders tussle over the proposed bipartisan health care summit, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they want Congress to keep working to pass comprehensive health-care reform. Democrats overwhelmingly support continued action on this front, as do 56 percent of independents and 42 percent of Republicans.

With all due respect to the boss, what do Republicans gain politically by avoiding the meeting entirely rather than attending it and using it as a platform to air their grievances about the bill? Granted, it’s a meaningless televised photo op which Obama wants to use to prove his bipartisanship and to poke holes in the GOP’s health care policy recommendations, but it’s also a forum at which Republicans can challenge the cost projections and the consequences of the individual mandate (among other things). Showing up, hearing Obama out, and then walking away on principle is a lot more politically salable than the pure rejectionism of refusing to go because there’s nothing left to talk about. What am I missing here? Click the image to watch.

b-summit

Update (Ed): I agree with AP here. The GOP has two choices (at least) here — show up and be seen as willing to at least argue their points, or refuse to show up and allow Obama a photo op with a bunch of empty seats where Republicans were supposed to sit. The public dislikes the ObamaCare bill, so why not take advantage of the media coverage Obama brings to make the same points again: too much government bureaucracy, unconstitutional mandates, and especially the lack of tort reform? If they show up and keep to their arguments, they get to air them on TV. If not, then Obama gets all of the airtime to himself.

And let’s remember one thing from the Obama meeting with the Republicans earlier — it didn’t keep Obama from sinking back to his lowest levels of approval ever. Let’s not be afraid to stand on our arguments.