With our 24/7 news cycle, we tend to rush past important events all too quickly. No sooner did we see Chilean rescue teams aiding stricken Haitians than international groups were racing to Chile. At times it all seems a blur.
Let’s not rush by last week’s Health Care Summit at Washington’s historic Blair House. It was a great location for such a gathering. It was not held on Capitol Hill. Neither was it held in the White House. Blair House could serve as an excellent meeting ground between the Executive and the Legislative branches. Hats off to the event planners who chose this site.
President Harry Truman actually lived in Blair House for several years during the extensive renovation of the White House. Harry actually stuck his head out the window here when Puerto Rican terrorists tried to assassinate him in 1950. A White House policeman died defending the President.
An even more bizarre event occurred here in 1995, when Russian President Boris Yeltsin ventured out the door of Blair House in his underwear, hailing a cab for a pizza run. Stories of Yeltsin’s late night boozing were vigorously denied by the Kremlin: “It’s not true Yeltsin is drunk every night. He’s drunk every day. At night, he sleeps it off.”
The day-long Obamathon on Health Care needs to be analyzed with care. No sooner did we hear in the State of the Union Address about the need to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs, than we found ourselves back on health care. As if we haven’t talked enough about health care in the last year. Jobs--Joe Biden’s “three-letter word”--ought to be the focus on domestic policy, but it isn’t. And voters are not happy about that.
President Obama was described by almost everyone as highly intelligent, articulate, and professorial. But we knew all that going in. Conservative columnist Dennis Prager noted something that few have commented upon:
The President was invariably addressed as “Mr. President.” He--on the other hand--routinely referred to conferees by their first names. How is that? “John, Chuck, Kathleen, Eric, Mitch.” It’s not a question of protocol or civility. It’s more than that.