Health summit a 'stunt' and 'spectacle,' scholars say

Historians in the News

Heated partisan exchanges and in-depth policy discussions at the bipartisan health care summit on Thursday are unlikely to sway both parties in finding common ground, analysts said as the summit was going on.

One said the summit makes an argument against televising hearings. Another said it will reinforce doubts about whether Washington can resolve the health care impasse....

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said the summit "wasn't much more than a TV spectacle."

"Only the infirm or unemployed could have possibly sat home and watched it all," said Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. "Instead, what everybody will see tonight on news broadcasts are the sparks of tension between [President] Obama and [Sen. John] McCain. It's like the 2008 election never ended."...

Recent polls, meanwhile, suggest Americans are angry at the partisan fights in Congress and the lack of compromise.

Two-thirds of those polled think the Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to cooperate with Obama, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday.

The majority of those polled said the Democrats should take the first step toward bipartisan cooperation and they want the Democrats to give up more than the GOP to reach consensus....

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