As a good liberal political junkie I watched the summit today and saw Democrats staying within the bounds of reality in discussing the various ideas on the table and I saw the Republicans making things up. The president was in command of the facts, competently defended the Democratic position and successfully batted back many of the GOPs misrepresentations. The Republicans were effective in repeating their usual talking points and non-sequitors.
This is the basic dynamic of the health care debate. Democratic elected officials by and large want to solve this problem. Republican elected officials by and large don't. Sure, there are exceptions—The Ryan-Nunes-Coburn-Burr bill is a serious GOP attempt to grapple health care; Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh don't seem particularly interested in getting things done—but the leadership and most of the rank-and-file on both sides fit the bill. Negotiations can't exist under these conditions; there's no set of compromises Democrats could make that would attract any Republican votes. If John Boehner had sat down and said "We're prepared to deliver 75 votes for something that looks like Ryan-Nunes", or been willing to deliver a dozen or so votes if Obama had tacked on more aggressive malpractice award caps, things might be different. But he didn't, and Mitch McConnell more or less signaled all out opposition to everything the day after the election. Whether the press is going to wake up to this dynamic, or whether they will continue to allow Republican carping about process issues as though they're legitimate complaints is entirely unclear.