Rich Galen

In the run up to his speech before a Joint Session of Congress tonight, President Barack Obama had a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) at the White House. After the meeting, as is the custom, they came out to speak to reporters.

Harry Reid had said "We're still approaching this in the form of bipartisanship. We want a bipartisan bill."

None of the reporters laughed out loud, but one did ask "Why was there no place for Republicans at the table today at this meeting?"

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Reid fumbled the answer so Pelosi stepped in and said, "He has other meetings that we are not invited to that Republicans are at" which is at once dreadful grammar and not true.

But, the biggest whopper she told was suggesting that Republicans were involved in the three bills which have come out of the Education and Labor; Ways and Means; and, Energy and Commerce committees.

She said "All of them have strong numbers of Republicans on those Committees. I saw to that when we did our ratios. So they had a place at the table as our bills had come through the legislative process."

I checked, via e-mail, with the chief of staff of the House Republican Conference, Marc Short, about how many of the 57 Republicans who are members of those committees actually voted for any of the three bills.

"None" was the one word answer.

Republicans may have had a place at the table, but the deals were struck somewhere else (to modestly misquote Lincoln's Gettysburg Address) for House Democrats, with House Democrats, by House Democrats.

Pelosi insists there must be a "public option" for a bill to come out of the House of Representatives but Harry Reid was not so sure about the Senate, saying, "We're going to do our very best to have a public option or something like a public option before we finish this work."

The President will be delivering his speech to the Congress tonight because that's the only way the White House can get network coverage. As the Fall TV season is about to open, no network would have given up an hour of prime time revenue for yet another press conference nor for an oval office speech.

A Joint Session speech is unique so, according to Media Life Magazine:

ABC, CBS and NBC will carry the live speech, as will the Big Three cable news networks, including Fox News Channel. Fox will advise viewers who want to watch the president's address to tune in to FNC.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at