Leaving it to Congress put an unusually glaring spotlight on how Capitol Hill does business. The spectacle of Congress’ horse-trading, secrecy and gridlock has fueled today’s virulent anti-Washington mood. The public’s reaction was all the greater because Obama had campaigned on a promise to change the way Washington did business, and because healthcare reform engendered such personal high hopes and anxiety…
But Obama himself helped bring on the backlash.
“In 2006 and 2008, voters threw out Republicans and thought things would change,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster. “Now they see it’s even worse. Because of YouTube and Facebook, and you can watch TV on your cellphone, we know these deals are happening. We assumed they happened 20 years ago, but we know it today.”
That’s one reason Obama has called a healthcare summit this week — to try to renew the debate on more pristine terms. Even if nothing comes of the talks, they are designed to spotlight on national television precisely the bipartisan, high-minded debate that Congress’ year-long process was not.