If there was some sincere hope inside the White House that by putting a bi-partisan, half-day summit on live television, Republicans and Democrats would somehow find common ground on an issue as divisive as health-care reform, that's pretty much over now. Because the White House and Republican leaders can't even agree on the conditions for the meeting itself. Yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor made it known that the House GOP's participation was contingent on certain demands being met, demands which include the scrapping of the entire legislation the Democrats have been working on since, it feels like, antediluvian times. Robert Gibbs responded with his own letter, in which he reaffirmed Obama's commitment to the Democratic bill:
"He’s been very clear about his support for the House and Senate bills because of what they achieve for the American people ...
He's open to including any good ideas that stand up to objective scrutiny. What he will not do, however, is walk away from reform and the millions of American families and small business counting on it."
So, great. The summit hasn't even started yet and we're talking past each other. Despite their reservations, House Republicans will probably decide to show up to the summit anyway, so as to not look entirely obstinate, but we're not holding out a lot of hope for a major breakthrough. Hell, if they can agree on what kind of sandwiches to get for lunch, we'll consider that an achievement.