I watched portions of the summit, and a few things struck me:
– Paul Ryan was the star of the show, hands down.
– Obama still does not handle being questioned or refuted well. At all.
– It was more than a bit tiresome to hear people, mostly Democrats, keep wheeling out sob stories to try to make their point. That assumes a dishonest position – that the Republicans are advocating doing nothing, something they repeatedly refuted.
– It was also tiresome that every Republican felt the need to thank the President for inviting them. They should have just done it once.
– It was dismaying to see so many Republicans back off when Obama challenged them. For example, when the point was made that high-risk policies actually lead to more responsible use of health care, Obama first tossed out a strawman about moving Congress over to high-risk policies, then when it was firmly hit back to him, he tried to make the argument about how much money the Congressmen make. Yet the person doing the rebuttal (whose name I did not note) did not point out that Obama had framed the question, so the issue of Congressional pay was irrelevant. Nor did he hammer home his point about lower-income federal employees. It left Obama looking stronger even though he made no actual point on the issue.
– Why could nobody make the point about the CBO not being a “take it or leave it” authority? They rate bills based on the information given. Obviously, then, if the information given is bad, the rating is bad. This seemed an easy point to make, and only Ryan touched on it.
At the end of the day, what bugs me about this meeting is that it really won’t change anyone’s mind. The people who blindly worship Obama will come away saying that he ‘held his own’, even though he never discussed specifics and resorted to anecdotes and proven falsehoods many times, and – most damningly – never proved how his approach would fix anything. Those who have doubts about his approach were probably screaming at their TVs, as I was, as easy points were missed and opportunities lost.