No theatrics, eh? The leading man has set the stage for the Democrats to hurry into the next act. Opening soon: A thrilling drama when they rush a healthcare bill through the Senate, to howls of protest from their opponents. But it will be the audience reaction that matters in the end.
At the end of the long Blair House meeting, President Obama has told his Republican opponents to go away and do some soul-searching to see whether they can find some compromises and do a deal on healthcare. He knows they won't.
He said at the outset that he didn't want this meeting of more than 40 top politicians from both parties to become political theatre, and on the whole it didn't. There was detailed policy debate and the president concluded that there were several areas where there could possibly be compromises with the Republicans.
These might be important, but they are not central to the fundamental difference between the parties. He knows that.
The Republican message was unmistakable. The Democratic plans, whether the House bill, Senate bill or the Obama compromise between them, had been rejected by the American people in opinion polls, in town hall meetings, and in elections. The only way forward was to start from scratch and tackle reform step by step, the Republicans argued.
President Obama told them bluntly, baby steps would not get them where people needed to go.
He said his opponents had to deal with the core problem. Millions of Americans had no health insurance because they couldn't afford it or because they were turned down due to their medial condition.
He said the parents of a child with asthma who are denied insurance or the small business laying people off because their health care premiums were soaring couldn't wait another five decades.
One exchange illustrated the real gulf that does exist.
One Republican maintained that America had the best healthcare system in the world. As evidence, he said that a former prime minister of Canada (which has a similar system to the NHS) had flown to the US to have heart surgery.
The president went for the opening he'd been given. The folks he was worried about were not premiers, or sultans, but working people who couldn't afford health care insurance. "We shouldn't pretend that they don't need help", he said.
Several times, Republicans urged President Obama not to use the device of "budget reconciliation" in the Senate. It requires a simple majority, not the usual 60 votes out of 100 to avoid bills being talked out. But it looks as if that is exactly what is going to happen. Perhaps Pres Obama's most telling quote of the day was this.
"I think the American people aren't always all that interested in procedures inside the Senate. I do think they want a vote on how we are going to move this forward and I think to most Americans a majority vote makes sense."
That will be the next great drama. But this was a serious, sensible debate where just about every contribution was thoughtful and intelligent. The White House will hope the plaudits go to the leading man, who was sometimes challenging and combative, but always attentive, open and reasonable.
But the meeting also demonstrated to the American people that while they may long for bipartisanship, it is not always possible.
There are fundamental philosophical differences between the parties and no amount of goodwill can bring the curtain down on that.