As news of a congressional ping-pong tournament signifying an endgame on the Obamacare debate percolates across the web, yet another brick has fallen off the wall for the Democrat establishment.
The Democrats have now lost C-SPAN.
The cable network, which meticulously guards its reputation for partisan neutrality and does everything it can not to generate controversy, has now jumped into the debate with both feet. C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb fired off a letter to the House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle on December 30 demanding that all negotiations on the health care bill be made transparent and open to the public.
December 30, 2009
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.
The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety. We will also, as we willingly do each day, provide C-SPAN’s multi-camera coverage to any interested member of the Capitol Hill broadcast pool.
Since the initial introduction of the America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 in the House and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate
C-SPAN has televised literally hundreds of hours of committee hearings, mark ups and floor debate on these bills for the public to see. And importantly, we have archived all of this video for future generations to study in the C-SPAN Video Archives.
President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.
We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We are most willing to employ the latest digital technology to make the cameras, lights and microphones as unobtrusive as possible.
Please contact me if I can answer any questions.
Lamb’s inclusion of McConnell and Boehner was a nice touch, though it’s really a waste of ink for him to have done so. The entire purpose of the “ping-pong strategy” is to shut Republicans out of the debate altogether, and also to keep the Democrat membership from having to deal with more than one more vote in each house. It’s a strategy which gives the impression that despite all the bloviating from Reid, Pelosi et al, these guys really aren’t very proud of their legislation.
The marginalized GOP can’t do much at this point other than issue press releases. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, for example, put this one out:
“After months of debating legislation to reform our nation’s health care system, Congress has reached a crucial period in this process – merging the two bills passed by the House and Senate. It is critical that this stage of the process be visible to the American people so they know exactly what type of health care bill will be written.
“President Obama has repeatedly stressed the importance of an open and transparent debate and even promised to open up the legislative process to organizations like C-SPAN during his campaign. Now Congress has yet another chance to prove its commitment to that pledge. I applaud C-SPAN for their request and ask my colleagues to carry out these critical and significant negotiations – that will impact every American – in the light of day.”
Lamb and Vitter have something in common: neither one will affect the debate. Reid and Pelosi are bent on squeezing this bloated, corpulent, slovenly and misshapen lummox of a bill through the back door and noone outside the Democrat ranks in the House and Senate can do anything to stop them. Still, when Lamb puts aside the non-confrontational mantle of C-SPAN to demand the transparency Reid, Pelosi and Obama brazenly lied to the American people in promising, it’s impressive.