Will the attendees at the summit be able to keep it civil? Obama is known for his calm demeanor, but one thing that has made him visibly angry is Republican attacks on Democratic health reform plans. At a House GOP meeting during which Obama confronted Republicans on live television, the President literally stared down the assembled group and chastised them for characterizing his reform ideas as a "Bolshevik plot." But even this was fairly tame. In recent days, Senate majority leader Harry Reid told Republicans to "stop crying" over reconciliation, the process by which his body may try to pass health care reform with only 51 votes; Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said GOP calls to start over are "like Dr. Kevorkian giving you health care advice"; Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said the Obama reform plan was "the 'Cornhusker Kickback' on steroids", referring to the special Medicaid funding deal that Ben Nelson secured for Nebraska in exchange for his yes vote on the Senate bill; and House minority leader John Boehner pegged the summit as a "charade."
All eyes will be on the President and the assembled members of Congress to see if everyone keeps his or her cool throughout the six-hour meeting. There will surely be clashes over policy and impassioned statements about how to help the uninsured and seniors on Medicare. But sadly, there will also likely be unfair accusations, if not outright lies, about what each side proposes and what affect it will have on the American people. Watch to see how the lawmakers react. Losing one's temper in politics is usually self-destructive, but it can also excite supporters and give the appearance of power. If the polls are correct, though, the American people are looking to place blame for the lack of bipartisanship, so summit attendees have every reason to at least appear as if they want to work together for the common good.
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