Let’s leave aside the fact that I think the letter is very poorly put together, with ideas jumbled together, logical flow choppy or non-existent, and paragraph breaks seemingly occurring based on word count rather than by key points. That may be a matter of style (theirs stinks) and personal opinion (I’m right). The real problem is that this is not the letter of a political party that wants to lead; this is the letter of a political party that wants to sit back and make political hay by taking potshots at those in power.
First, the stench of political point making arises from the pixels like noxious fumes from a, well, a fever swamp. The letter begins by pointing out that the GOP asked for a bipartisan discussions way back in May but would Obama listen? No, of course not, so now he’s getting his comeuppance. The snarky “assuming the President is sincere” (twice!) is just bush-league - and a mistake I doubt either the elder or the younger George Bush would make. The references to the “job-killing bills” is unnecessary and frankly stupid if the GOP really wants to get something done; it assumes facts not agreed on by both sides and is deliberately provocative. Then there’s the stuff that sounds like something a fifteen-year-old girl would scream at her mother before slamming the door to her bedroom. For example: “‘Bipartisanship’ is not writing proposals of your own behind closed doors, then unveiling them and demanding Republican support.” And, of course, there’s this laugher:
The President says Republicans are ‘sitting on the sidelines’ just days after holding up our health care alternative and reading from it word for word. The President has every right to use his bully pulpit as he sees fit, but this is the kind of credibility gap that has the American people so fed up with business as usual in Washington.
Right. As opposed to this letter which is concerned solely with policy and with getting something done for the American people.
Even worse than the political posturing, though, are the questions. A party that wants to lead doesn’t ask questions about what the President will do; a party that wants to lead sets its own agenda. There are 979 words in the body of the letter; 295 of those words are contained in questions: Will the President give up the idea of reconciliation; will he make legislative proposals available at least 72 hours before voting; will he include these guys and those guys and opponents and people from the States and these experts and those experts and special interest groups? The Republicans sound like an over-anxious mother grilling her kid about who’s going to be at Barack’s house. Worst of all is this question: will Republicans be permitted to invite health care experts to participate? Permitted? Now the GOP sounds like a nine-year-old asking if he can invite friends over for dinner.
Don’t ask. Tell. The President has invited the GOP to sit down and discuss health care reform. The GOP shouldn’t use its response to score political points - or, more accurately, try to score political points since I don’t think they’ll succeed with this approach. Nor should the GOP hand all the power over to the President by asking him what he’s going to do about this, that, and the other. Rather the GOP response should set out - clearly, calmly, and without nastiness - the conditions under which the GOP will agree to such a meeting. Somebody has to be the grown-ups here. How about if the GOP gives it a try?