Last Friday, President Obama stopped by the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore, and spent almost 90 minutes engaging the Republican members of Congress, and answering their questions on healthcare, taxes, defense and any number of other subjects. He did brilliantly, and I’d love to see more of it. Those of you who missed it, can see it here:
Among those impressed by the performance, was the Huffington Post’s San Stein, who said the following:
…He rebuked a questioner who insisted that the monthly deficit is higher now than Bush’s annual deficit. “That’s factually just not true,” he said. “And you know it’s not true.” He lampooned Republican lawmakers seated in front of him for portraying his health care legislation as “some Bolshevik plot.” He mocked Republicans for railing against the stimulus package and then showing up at “the ribbon-cuttings for some of these important projects in your communities.” And he did it all while calling for “a tone of civility instead of slash and burn will be helpful.”
Whether it was chutzpah, political savvy, or both, it certainly was refreshing. Reporters were thrilled with the British Parliament-style exchange between president and lawmakers. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder asked that forums like these be held monthly. The Nation’s Chris Hayessuggested Obama next go before the progressive caucus. Ezra Klein of the Washington Postlabeled it “the most compelling political television I’ve seen…maybe ever. NBC’s Chuck Toddadded: “The president should hold Congressional ‘town halls’ more often. Public needs to see this if they’ll ever trust Washington again”…
He handled himself so well in fact that the folks at FOX News, which was airing the Q&A session, made a decision somewhere in the middle to turn their cameras off.
And, before we move on, here’s a quote from Joel Klein, who commented on the Q&A session for Time.
…And therein lies the crisis of democracy that our country faces: a moderate-liberal President, willing to make judicious compromises, confronted by a Republican Party paralyzed by cynicism and hypocrisy, undergirded by inchoate ideological fervor…
One would hope that at least one Republican would be willing to do the unthinkable and help Obama pass legislation that they’ve historically been in favor of, but that apparently isn’t going to work in today’s climate, where Republicans would much rather see our nation fail than run the risk of making our President look good. It’s pathetic, and we as a nation should be ashamed for allowing it to happen.