So if the real audience is marginal House Democrats, and most of what they want probably has already happened just by calling the summit, is there really reason to watch it today?
Mixed answer. For substantive effect on the chances of the bill passing or the contents of the bill, mostly not. You never can tell, but the summit is unlikely to change public opinion, and even less likely to feature actual negotiations. Doesn't mean it's a bad thing -- democracy needs its rituals, and I think this is a promising one -- but adjust expectations with that in mind.
However, sure, a bunch of pols operating on live TV for several hours -- that's worth watching. They're all competing to have the best soundbite, the best YouTube moment. The first-rate journalist and brother David S. Bernstein has already handicapped the field to predict who is most likely to have a "You Lie" breakout (he makes Joe Barton the chalk). We may get an iconic presidential moment...hey, future presidential candidates have emerged out of this sort of attention. So there's every chance that something worth watching will happen, even if there's not much chance that anything that significantly changes the chances of health care reform passes happening.
I had fun live-tweeting the SOTU, so I think I'll give it another go today, at least on and off. Follow @jbplainblog. See you there!