The longest week I ever spent was the six hours I spent watching Thursday's health-care summit.
The better angel of my nature says that this confab is a wonderful spectacle of democracy. Serious men and women airing serious disagreements in a (relatively) respectful and substantive manner. Huzzah for democracy. Wahoo for C-SPAN. Attaboys and attagals to all involved.
My more devilish side says that this is a debacle par excellence, the policy-wonk equivalent of a show trial where the result is foreordained and the speeches are for the benefit of no one but those who don't understand what's really going on while the posturing is for the handful of Kremlinologists who care passionately about minutiae.
More to the point: It was mind-bogglingly, soul-achingly, sand-poundingly, metaphysically and ontologically boring. It's like driving through Kansas on the interstate (something I've done many times): long, vast stretches of boredom punctuated by the occasional brief promise of excitement that would require detouring from the planned route.
It reminds me of that old Monty Python skit where British soldiers are equipped with the world's funniest joke, a joke so funny that even to hear it guarantees you'll die laughing. The British army translates the gag into German (different translators for each word so as to prevent their own deaths), and has its troops read the German version as they march through Ardennes forest. Suddenly, Nazi soldiers start falling dead from the trees.
Substitute "boring" for "funny" and you'll get a vague sense of how dull this summit was.
At one point I could swear Mitch McConnell was counting fibers in the carpet just to stay awake.
For months, Republicans have fairly tagged President Obama for breaking his promise to put health-care negotiations on C-SPAN. That talking point was rendered moot Thursday. But now there's a better talking point: The summit showed why Obama was crazy for wanting to televise this stuff in the first place. Real negotiations never happen in front of cameras because to cut a real political deal in public is the political equivalent of cutting your own throat.