At 'Landmark' Summit an 'Exasperated' Obama Succeeded in Proving GOP 'Party of No'

“The President often seemed exasperated with Republican arguments,” CBS's Chip Reid empathetically conveyed in reporting on Thursday's health care policy summit before he declared that President Obama had achieved what he needed to accomplish:
Well, he really did, Katie. What he really wanted to do was convince the American people, and more importantly wavering Democrats in Congress, that the Republicans are the party of no. They won't compromise and he now has no choice but to move ahead with Democrats alone.
On ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer led with what she described as “a landmark event today, a televised political duel.” Echoing Reid's assessment of Obama's “exasperation,” Jake Tapper saw “from the Republicans, some old arguments and new frustrations for the President.” George Stephanopoulos decided Obama had “reinforced his bipartisan bonafides, showed that he was reaching out.”

Parting with Reid, however, Stephanopoulos considered it an “honorable draw” since “both sides...gained something” as “Republicans were able to show they had real substantive ideas, there are just differences about how to achieve health care reform in this country.”

Brief excerpts from the ABC and CBS coverage on Thursday, February 25:

ABC's World News:
DIANE SAWYER: Good evening. It was a landmark event today, a televised political duel. Democrats and Republicans sitting face to face for nearly seven hours, debating health care in America. They had been summoned by the President and there was tension, there was anger. But there was genuine engagement. So, will there be action?...

SAWYER: In some sense today's meeting, as you know, was theater, as well, George. So, thumb's up, thumb's down, for whom?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I think it was probably an honorable draw. You say theater, it was also political chess, as well. And both sides, I think, gained something. I think the President reinforced his bipartisan bonafides, showed that he was reaching out. I think Republicans were able to show they had real substantive ideas, there are just differences about how to achieve health care reform in this country.
CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Good evening, everyone. Anyone tuning in to daytime television today saw something unprecedented -- the President and members of Congress holding a summit before live cameras on a major piece of legislation, health care reform. But it was less negotiating than speech making, and as new as this was, you might have gotten the feeling you'd heard it all before. Republicans said let's start from scratch. Democrats said forget it. So where do they go from here?...  

CHIP REID: The President often seemed exasperated with Republican arguments while his fellow Democrats vigorously defended the President's plan and accused Republicans of coddling insurance companies....

COURIC: Chip, did the President, in a way, accomplish what he needed to do today?

REID: Well, he really did, Katie. What he really wanted to do was convince the American people, and more importantly, wavering Democrats in Congress, that the Republicans are the party of no. They won't compromise and he now has no choice but to move ahead with Democrats alone.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center