Jonah Goldberg
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The president has invited congressional Republicans to sit down and talk through health care at a big "bipartisan summit" on Feb. 25. Some think it's a little late for such a conversation. After all, the Democrats have built their health care palace from the ground up, using only Democratic labor and Democratic input; they just can't get it to pass inspection. So general contractor Obama invites Republicans to debate the blueprints, and just the blueprints. Oh, and he wants to debate them, not change them. Not really.

"The president doesn't think we should start over," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer explained. Obama himself has said he's committed to the existing bill(s) in the House and Senate. He just wants to hash out ideas with Republicans, in front of TV cameras, at a much-hyped summit because he thinks it would be good for America, or something. The Republicans can get whatever fixtures they want in the guest bathroom. Beyond that, they should just co-sign ObamaCare and shut up.

The best you can say about the effort is that it fits into the White House's universal answer to all of its problems: "We just need to explain to these confused Americans how we've been right about everything." To that end, the White House wants to use Republicans as a skeptical prop-audience in one last infomercial for the ShamWow of ObamaCare.

The worst you can say is that it's a cynical trap, designed to make the GOP look out of touch, ill-informed and ideological. Indeed, there's a bipartisan consensus growing in Washington that the whole thing is a setup. Obama is going to say "nice doggie" to Republicans right up until the moment he smashes them with a rolled-up 2,000-page health care bill.

Game Change FREE

Liberals like the idea because they want the Republicans to get brained. They believe the GOP either doesn't have real ideas on health care, or that conservative ideas won't go over well with voters. They hope that Obama the law professor and community organizer will expose all of this, forcing the American people to come to their senses and support legislation they've been hearing about nonstop for a year. Again, liberalism is never wrong, it just has a problem explaining to the mule-headed electorate it's right about everything. Liberalism is always one more tutorial away from sunshine and lollipops for everyone.

Even so, the GOP should go.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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