The “go-to pollster” in Imus’s opinion is Frank Luntz, who brought to light the stuff no one else picked up on during yesterday’s health care summit at the White House.
“The Republicans were on one side, and the Democrats were on the other,” he said of the seating arrangement around the table. “Why didn’t they mix them? It’s about time they started talking to each other, communicating to each other.”
Luntz, whose most recent book is called “What Americans Really Want…Really,” also thought the Republican leadership should have been sitting opposite President Obama to ensure constant eye contact.
“The way you sit and stand, the way that they formulate these rooms—it sounds meaningless, and it’s actually deeply meaningful,” said Luntz, using as an example the 2004 Vice Presidential debate, when Dick Cheney opted to sit down instead of stand. “When he’s standing, he’s dull. When he’s seated, he’s incredible.”
Polls about what people want from health care reform are, on average, conclusive, Luntz said. Americans want health care reform; they believe in prevention and wellness more than treatments and cures; they believe health care should be portable from job to job; and that no one should be denied treatment for preexisting conditions.
“That’s all the American people are asking for,” Luntz said. “The Republicans need to do a better job communicating that their politics offer an alternative. The Democrats simply should stop what they’re doing and go back to the drawing board.”
Most Americans, Luntz added, believe health care is a right everyone should have. “But they don’t want their own coverage damaged or compromised to cover those who don’t have coverage,” he said.
To Imus, President Obama seemed exceptionally thin-skinned and insecure during yesterday’s summit, at one point arguing with Senator John McCain, who was ranting about the lack of transparency during the health care reform process.
“He snapped at him because John McCain was raising really good points,” said Luntz. “If someone is totally off base, you ignore them.”
In the end, Luntz believes the Democrats will pass the health care bill through a legislative process called reconciliation, or “the nuclear option,” whereby a bill is passed with a smaller number of people voting for it than is usually required.
“It’s when the party in the majority really doesn’t care and doesn’t respect the party in the minority,” said Luntz. “The GOP has done it, and this time the Democrats are going to do it. But I’m telling you, Imus, if the Democrats do it on something so big and so emotional, the turnout in November against them—oh my god—these guys are going to be losing seats left, right, and center.”
As if Luntz’s performance wasn’t stellar enough this morning, he impressed the I-Man with his five favorite songs, which include “In My Life,” by the Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence,” a dark but accurate portrayal of the human condition.
He also listed “The Hanukkah Song” as a favorite, because, he said, “Adam Sandler made it okay to be Jewish. He made it cool to be Jewish.” Luntz suggested Sandler pen another Hanukkah Song (it would be the fourth) listing the names of more famous Jews.
What rhymes with Luntz?