Health-Care “Summit”

Apparently President Obama will host a health-care “summit,” one alleged purpose of which is to negotiate with Republicans. An unstated purpose may be to appear to give the Republicans what they have appeared to ask for: cooperation, which they don’t want because they want to leave Democrats isolated, and which President Obama may not want really to offer because there may be nothing on which he and Republicans can agree.

I heard and saw Rep. John Boehner speaking about the summit on Fox News, and he wondered aloud whether the event was going to be “political,” and he said he didn’t know how big the room in which the summit was to take place was going to be. Answers: Yes, the meeting will be political. Probably the room will be big enough to accommodate everyone but not everyone’s ego.

In any event, I was surprised to learn that “summit,” as referring to a formal political meeting, is apparently rather a new term, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary online:

1955 Times 23 June 8/3 The senator’s resolution demanding that the United States should refuse to attend the ‘*summit’ conference. 1959 Encounter Aug. 33/2, I was running out of pennies, and had to have a summit conference with the [telephone] operator. 1977 Whitaker’s Almanack 1978 590/1 A unified political command for Egypt, Syria, and the Sudan was agreed at the end of the two-day tripartite summit conference in Khartoum.

Concerning the health-care “summit,” one might be tempted to ponder the irony of Congresspersons relocating from The Hill to the summit, and to wonder whether a summit–a higher perch–is required so that Congresspersons can attempt, at least, to climb out of the mire of studied ineffectiveness.


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