For a guy who touts himself as bipartisan and demands bipartisanship from Republicans, President Barack Obama had a funny way of showing his bipartisanship during last week's health care summit.
Obama has repeatedly promised an open, honest and bipartisan process on health care reform, but from the beginning, he has quarterbacked a highly partisan, closed-door and dishonest campaign.
In his opening remarks at the "summit," he said he wanted to make sure the participants didn't just trade "talking points" or engage in "political theater." He said, "If we've got an open mind, if we're listening to each other, if we're not engaging in sort of the tit for tat trying to score political points during the next several hours ... we might be able to make some progress."
He then proceeded to a) open the curtains for his own political theater, with one anecdotal Democratic sob story after another about the horrors of American health care; b) deliver his own talking points throughout the day, including his obligatory "tit for tat" following almost every Republican speaker; and c) demonstrate his own partisanship through (i) patronizing dismissals of the Republicans' substantive contributions as "talking points"; (ii) volleying partisan barbs at Republicans; (iii) mischaracterizing his positions and those of the Republicans; and (iv) accusing Republicans of not showing a good-faith willingness to make any movement in his direction when he made no effort to compromise with them.
To invoke my own anecdotal experience here, I have worked with people like Obama before, those who sanctimoniously demand collegiality and compromise while exhibiting no willingness to compromise themselves and then -- wholly blind to their own dogmatism -- castigate you for not "meeting them halfway" (meaning: wholly embracing their proposals).
This summit was an orchestrated setup for Obama to showcase himself as bipartisan, reasonable and, above all, motivated by compassion to improve health care for all Americans and demonize the Republicans as partisan, obstructionist and heartless. With this predicate, he would appear justified in imposing, unilaterally, his Obamacare monstrosity.
But what struck me even more than Obama's unfairness, pettiness and partisanship was his acutely self-absorbed performance throughout the day. His well-known narcissism was on full display, the most telling evidence of which was that he was so hopelessly immersed in satisfying his own hierarchy of ideological needs that he obviously had no idea he was coming off that way.