How dumb are we?  We should find out in the few days after the “White House Health Summit” this Thursday.  There will doubtless be polls conducted by most every politician who is running for Congress this fall and by advocacy groups on all sides of the equation.  The bulk of the questions will talk about Health Care issues but the real reasons for the polls will be to see how Mr. Obama fared at the “summit.”  Why is that?  Every politician will look to see if Mr. Obama will be an asset or a liability to their ticket.  Every politician will look to see which direction the political winds are blowing.  They will all be looking for the opportunity and the danger in the Health Care Reform Bill.

But why will this tell us how dumb the American people are?  In my view it is simple.  If Mr. Obama has a higher rating in public opinion polls after the “Summit” than he had going in, it will mean the American Public is dumb.  If it shows that Mr. Obama’s popularity has waned, it will show, at least, that people are paying attention.  I should explain.

Congress has been ‘laboring’ for a year now at putting together a bill to address the health care reform that was high on Mr. Obama’s list of priorities.  With few and small exceptions, the bills in both the House and the Senate have been produced entirely from input given by the Democrat majority.  In my opinion, much of that has been heavily biased, if not written, by lobbiests from Unions, trial lawyers, and insurance companies.  Also in my view, the people who are at the heart of the problem have bought enough seats at the table that they have all but written the legislation.  The bills are more about politics than health and more about status quo than about reform.  There appears to be a fairly broad consensus among the American People that what is now on the table is not good.  It limits choice.  It raises taxes and deficits.  It does not address huge areas where reform could make a difference, like medical malpractice law, lack of portability, etc.  The current bills are going nowhere.

Enter President Obama.  He admits that Congress has not been successful in crafting legislation that will make it to his desk for signature nor have they created legislation that will do what he had hoped a year ago.   He wants to foster a bi-partisan solution, he says. “I want to consult closely with our Republican colleagues,” Obama said. “What I want to do is to ask them to put their ideas on the table. . . . I want to come back and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward.” Further, he said, “I don’t want to see this meeting turn into political theatre with each side simply reciting talking points and trying to score political points. Instead I ask members of both parties to seek common ground in an effort to solve a problem that’s been with us for generations.”

I don’t think that is what he wants at all.  I think he wants a big stage (which he will control), and hours of free TV to push his agenda.  If you wonder why I feel that way, wonder no more.  If he really wanted input from Congressional Republicans, why would he publish his plan, state that it needs to be adopted and publish it for all to see prior to the “White House Health Summit”???  Let me suggest an analogy.

Let’s say that my wife and I are parents of a teen-aged girl and a teen-aged boy.  For a year, I have been planning to buy a new car for the family.  I know that right now I can’t really afford it, but we can borrow the money and will get by, somehow.  I want a big SUV that will haul the kids, the boat, and will go anywhere in good weather or bad.  My wife has mentioned that our current van is big enough and will still haul the boat and the kids and we rarely need four wheel drive.  She would rather add a more economical car that would fit the four of us but save money, fuel and space in the garage.  Our son thinks we should have a red Corvette.  He knows that over half our trips are with just two of us at a time, and, besides, Corvettes are really fast and sexy.  And wouldn’t it be cool to have a convertible in the summer time?  Our daughter wants us to buy a Prius because all her friends want to save the earth and she does too, and, everybody knows that if you buy a Prius, you will help save the earth.  Anyway, we have discussed this for a year.  My wife and I have generally ignored any input from the kids because they aren’t really mature enough to make such a decision.  Frankly, they have both been bitching that we don’t listen to their input.  They are a bit fed up with us.  The decision effects them, too.  My wife and I can’t agree either.  So I have suggested that this Saturday evening, we all have dinner together and give our input as to why we think we should buy which vehicle. I guess I am not being really honest with them.  We really don’t need a new vehicle, but, if we can figure out a way to pay for it, I really want that new SUV.  Anyway, I have decided we will have a new car and I don’t care what they say.  We are getting one.  In anticipation of the questions I will be asked and to lay out the reasons why my choice is the right one (and theirs is the wrong one – all three of them) I have decided to just lease the car, bring it home on Saturday afternoon and then we can go over all the features of our new car that made it the right choice.  I mean they will still be able to say things like, “It is not a convertible” or “It’s a gas guzzler” but I know what is right.  They don’t. They just aren’t as smart about these things as I am.   And, besides, they will have had their input.  And I will get a red SUV – that should make my son happy.  And, I will get the 350 cubic inch engine instead of the 409 cid so it will get better mileage – that should make my daughter happy.  And, if they really don’t like the car and threaten divorce or something, I can always return the lease and the dealer will likely apply some of my initial payment to a different vehicle in his inventory.  And I can blame the dealer for forcing me to get a car that wasn’t right for my family.  Those car dealers really are the scum of the earth.

So how is this like Mr. Obama?  After seeing his dream of a government run health care system (his new SUV) tossed about and chopped up in the legislature, he has come out with his own proposal (he has leased the car).  It says on his website, “Building on that year-long effort, the President has now put forth a proposal that incorporates the work the House and the Senate have done and adds additional ideas from Republican members of Congress. The President has long said he is open to any good ideas for reforming our health care system, and he looks forward to discussing ideas for further improvements from Republicans and Democrats at an open, bipartisan meeting on Thursday.”

Watch for Mr. Obama to have all the participants driven to the meeting in his favored SUVs.  Also watch to see if the American People really believe he wants input from others or if this is really all about the show.  The polls in the days following will answer the title question.  And, if the American public rejects both his plan and his insincerity, Mr. Obama will just blame it on the insurance industry and the obstructionist Republicans.  In fact, he may even find a way to say that it is all George W. Bush’s fault.

Sorry about this post.  I’m not usually this snarky but the amazing insincerity of all this just got to me.