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They came, they talked, they pontificated, they postured.
In the end, they accomplished nothing.
After seven-and-a-half hours of positioning, President Barack Obama, Republicans and Democrats failed to reach any agreement on health care reform and Obama now will do what he planned to do all along — push for a “my way or the highway vote” in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
“We cannot have another yearlong public debate on this,” Obama said after the day-long, televised show-and-tell-nothing. “I’m not sure we can bridge the gap.”
No one is sure he and the Democrats can get a health care bill passed either. Democrats, aware of slumping public opinion on the current reform bill, don’t want to risk re-election chances in the fall mid-term elections and Republicans show no sign of budgeting in their steadfast opposition.
The much-ballyhooed summit turned testy at times and at other moments appeared to be more like a Sunday news talk show where each side recites talking points and offers little actual debate or compromise.
“This is a car that can’t be recalled and fixed,” said Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. “We ought to start over.”
“We just can’t afford this,” declared GOP Rep. Eric Cantor. “That’s the ultimate problem.”
At one point, Obama told McCain to remember that “we’re not campaigning any more. The election is over.”
“I’m reminded of that every day,” McCain said.
When Obama tried to cut McCain off at one point, the Senator’s tempered flared and he shot back “can I just finish please?”