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The Cameras On

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Cameras On"

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Igor Volsky’s right, of course, that the non-productive nature of last week’s health care summit illustrates exactly why it was silly of Barack Obama to ever promise that C-SPAN cameras would be “in the room” when legislators negotiate bills and it’s silly of his Republican critics to try to hold him to it: When you put politicians in a room full of cameras they just posture for the cameras and it’s not possible to get anything done.

There are plenty of other areas related to the health reform process where transparency is great. People need to be able to see and understand the details of the legislative proposals that negotiators come up with. And the public needs to be able to get a clear sense of what’s going on with the actual operations of our health care policy. But you put cameras in a room to create a TV spectacle. Sometimes a TV spectacle is a good idea, but it’s never going to be a negotiation.

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