THE TREATMENT FEBRUARY 5, 2010
Jonathan Chait parses Obama's statements last night and sees an emerging game plan. A key element is Obama's determination to reach out to the Republicans one last time before pushing ahead.
I don't have a huge problem with that. The Democrats have repeatedly reached out to the Republicans and the Republicans have repeatedly rebuffed those efforts. The bill before Congress is a true compromise between left and right, one that strongly resembles the bipartisan blueprint two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders--Howard Baker and Bob Dole--helped draft and then endorsed last year.
But the American people don't seem to grasp that it's the Republicans who refuse to be part of the conversation. If holding another meeting with them, on C-Span, would help change that perception--while emboldening nervous Democrats in Congress--I'm all for it.
And I wouldn't stop there. I'm no communications specialist. But if Obama is serious about gearing up for one more big push on health care, it seems to me, he should directly address the people who distrust him most: Conservatives and independents.
Why not do a full-court press of interviews with local television in the red states? Better still, how about a prime-time town hall in one of them? The White House could ask an independent polling firm invite the guests, much like in the presidential debates, and instruct the firm to get an over-representation of conservatives.
Obama can more than hold his own in that format, as he's shown repeatedly. And while I doubt one town hall will convince hardened right-wing skeptics, it could sway some independents, in part by undermining the charge that Obama is secretly foisting a government takeover on the American people.