The congressional Republicans at today's televised health-care "summit" at the White House naturally want to prevent the president from turning it into a PR stunt. This is no easy task. They'll not only have to point out problems with his plan and offer their own ideas, but correct the president when he makes statements that are not true.
The GOP participants appear ready for the first two tasks. In an unusual approach, House and Senate members prepped together the way a candidate preps for a presidential debates—by pulling together debate books and conducting mock sessions. But the third task is the most critical and the most difficult.
President Obama has a habit of making false statements, and getting away with them. At a Republican conference in Baltimore last month, for example, he denied that his budget nearly triples the national debt over 10 years. He got away with it because he didn't face follow-up questions or objections.
It's not easy to criticize a president face to face. During my White House years, congressmen and senators would sit in my office, pound the table, and vow to tell the president he mishandled an issue. Then we'd walk the 15 steps to the Oval Office, and they would instantly turn soft. The presidency commands respect. Americans expect the president to be treated with dignity and deference, making criticizing him to his face politically risky.
But it's necessary, because Mr. Obama is basing his health-care pitch on the false premise that he can drive down health-care prices by creating a pricey new entitlement. He also maintains that he can do this without creating a mountain of federal debt or a bureaucracy that will determine when Americans can receive care.
Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is a Fox News contributor and the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions). To continue reading his column in The Wall Street Journal, click here.