To talk or not to talk. That is the question. President Obama’s efforts to bring friends and foes together for a little table talk to address pressing issues is in his words a switch from the old-style Washington politics of the past.

However, it remains to be seen if table talk will work for the healthcare and energy lobbyists, and the special for-profit interests related to both. Organizing for America has already launched their counter attack against the “swift boating” of healthcare reform. Apparently a media splash is about to be launched — by the same people who crafted the anti-Kerry message in 2004–to keep Americans sentimentally and cautiously attached to the current faulty healthcare system.

Meanwhile single-payer activists are like the voice in the wilderness. For them the President offers an explanation – he doesn’t want to risk losing any healthcare reform for an ideological purity. At his New Mexico town hall meeting on Credit Card Reform, the President made the point that healthcare is 1/6 of the economy, a complication that makes the task of reform difficult. (I’ve heard this from healthcare professionals with no interest in making profits but reforming healthcare.)

“If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think the idea of moving towards a single-payer system coule very well make sense. That’s the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries in the world. The only problem is we’re not starting from scratch….”

View the Rio Rancho, New Mexico town hall meeting from this link (CNN) or read the transcript.

Energy, an essential resource, but treated more like a consumer product, faces a different challenge — lack of the kind of innovation medicine has experienced in the last 10 years. Nevertheless energy must be addressed with the same seriousness for future generations.