Will the Health Care Summit Be More than Political Theater?

On "Washington Unplugged" Wednesday, CBS News' Bob Orr spoke with Politico's Nia-Malika Henderson and The Washington Post's Michael Shear about the battle over health care. On the eve of tomorrow's health care summit, the issue is still as divisive as ever. But while many see this summit as a crucial part of President Obama's domestic agenda, Henderson thinks Republicans see it as an opportunity for "political theater ."

"In large part it is political theatre," said Henderson, "but Republicans are hoping to go in there and essentially overcome the perception of them as 'The Party of No.'"

Henderson said both parties are looking to come up with a plan that will resonate with all Americans. Shear said many Republicans are fearful this latest meeting will provide the president with another opportunity to cast Republicans as uncooperative.

"Part of the concern here is that this is all just a ploy on the president's part to cast [Republicans] as 'The Party of No,'" said Shear, "Obama hopes they say 'no, no, no' to everything at the meeting tomorrow and he can go back to the Congress and say 'Look, I've tried everything I can try on a bipartisan basis, let's just do this thing with our own party."

Henderson said she expects Republicans to push some of their own party ideas, including more privatization of health care and a more piecemeal approach to reform rather than a wholesale reworking. She said a Republican plan would most likely be smaller in scope and cost less than the Democrat's alternative.

"Republicans hope obviously is that Americans will see this meeting," said Henderson, "And say the Republicans have had an honest effort here, and that maybe in the end that this should be slow walk, this idea of healthcare reform."

But Shear said everyone - Democrats, Republicans and the media - may be overestimating the American public's interest in a meeting he called "extraordinarily boring."

"Six hours of talk about health policy," said Shear, "Is not usually something network executives would put on primetime against 'Lost' or '24.'"

Watch Wednesday's "Washington Unplugged" above, which also features surprising footage of the newest senator, Scott Brown.

More Coverage of the Health Care Summit:

Advice for the Health Care Summit from Two Presidents Named George

GOP Prepares Strategy for Health Care Summit

A War of Words Before the Health Care Summit

Dems, GOP: Summit Will Not Break Logjam On Health

Obama's Health Care Plan Unveiled

Harry Reid Says GOP Should "Stop Crying" About Reconciliation

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care


"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.