Obama in the lions’ den

    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.

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      10 Comments

      1. Posted February 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        Yesterday he did a Q&A with the Democrats, but, from what I hear, it wasn’t nearly as interesting.

      2. Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        That’s funny, because when I watched it, I thought, ” Damn, Obama’s totally in the lion’s den!”… I loved it. I think he did a great job speaking up, and articulating his points.
        It reminded me of all the reasons that I was duped into voting for him in the first place.

      3. Kim
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I just hope he can keep it up, and that the American people take notice.

      4. Elizabeth
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Well as long as he looks out for the wolf in sheep’s clothing, he’ll be fine.

      5. Ed
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        I’m infuriated that we’re such a dumb fucking country. The Republicans in Washington, who just months ago lobbied for particular pieces of legislation, are now turning their backs on it just because it’ll make Obama look bad, and help them get the presidency back in 2012. The American people, if they had any sense at all, would be massing on Capitol Hill.

      6. GOP Spokesmodel
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Fox News had no choice but to cut away. They needed to cover the “Book Reveals Cat’s Ability To Predict Death” story. It’s called being “fair and balanced.” Look into it.

      7. Edward
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Who was that first Republican to speak – the one who went on and on about how a little boy had asked him something that made him pretend to almost get choked up and crying? What a fucking load of horse shit. And I loved Obama’s face through it, and how he couldn’t help but smile at the false concern. Politicians are sons of bitches.

      8. Robert
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Obama in the liars’ den.

      9. Oliva
        Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Nailed it, Robert. The perfect headline.

        Obama in the liars’ den.

        The day after the SOTU and before the Liar’s Den, one of those cubs, Pence, was interviewed on cable, MSNBC, and was asked for his reaction in light of the president’s call for greater cooperation and civility. He went to talking points about how the president hadn’t talked about the one thing Americans care about right now, jobs. The interviewer called him on it, pointing out that a good bit of the SOTU had focused on jobs, even played him a clip. So the interviewer asked again about his willingness to work with the president. Pence looked at the camera, then his eyes darted away as if he were considering giving a true, decent answer, then he looked back and bald-facedly lied by repeating something to the effect that, “He just didn’t address the thing that most Americans care about–jobs.” What a jerk.

        Especially seeing as brain science studies suggest people will believe lies if told convincingly or repeatedly or before they hear other versions. Which explains Fox’s success. (And Pence’s audacity.) But what a misbegotten, cynical success, for making people dunces instead of tapping into their best qualities and abilities. And doing their best to make a mockery of truth. Not that such cynicism can last very long (there’s a good op-ed in 2 Feb. NYT by a historian of France, who described an earlier Tea Party moment but in France before de Gaulle, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/opinion/03zaretsky.html).

      10. Oliva
        Posted February 6, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink

        My other is awaiting moderation, but following it, another good NYT op-ed, 3 Feb., this one by Timothy Egan, “Grifters’ Tale,” re. Edwards and Palin, with a last line that fits nicely here: “the trick is finding the mark, before the mark finds you.”

        http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/grifters-tale/#more-37767

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