Friday, January 29, 2010

Democracy In Action

I just finished watching much of President Obama's session with Republican members of the House of Representatives at their retreat in Baltimore. It was truly remarkable -- it was televised live on television (although FOX news apparently decided to cut away before it was over), and the President fielded GOP questions with a deft and deep knowledge that was truly remarkable. He left no doubt -- he has read the Republican proposals. He has considered their ideas. He has incorporated some of them into his proposals. He could not possibly have taken them and their questions any more seriously. Indeed, he spent more than 20 minutes after the session ended (already 15 minutes late) shaking hands, signing autographs, posing for photographs -- amazing.

What the President said over and over is that the Republicans have to work with him. They can't just oppose everything he proposes because it was his idea. In other words, he really confronted my claim in my post about the State of the Union address that he was naive about bipartisanship. He made it clear that he's not naive, that it's something he strives for, but it's something that can never happen unless the Republicans decide to give up some ground.

There were all kinds of Twitter feeds in the background on Huffington Post, where the session was streamed live. Nobody could think of any other occasion in which a sitting President has taken questions on live television from members of the opposing party. And everyone agreed that it should happen more often.

i can't help wondering, after that incredibly impressive performance, whether the Republicans will invite President Obama to do this again in the future. Jennifer

P.S. - you can read about it here or watch it tonight at 8 pm on C-Span.


  1. Jennifer, thank you so much for writing. I really enjoy reading your blog and it is nice to hear your thoughts on healthcare. It is also a relief to hear that I have an advocate in you, even if we don't know each other or work together. I wrote something about my own experiences over the past 2 years dealing with insurance and coping with type 1 diabetes if you'd like to read it.

    Thank you again for being an advocate. I really hope that there are more people out there like you.

  2. Jennifer, I watched this impressive event too. I was so happy to see him addressing each point totally honestly. He refused to allow it to become a political event where each side trades boilerplate rather than address issues and programs behind the issues. He was at his best when he talked about one Congressman's long list of pseudo issues. He said, look I don't even agree with half of what you've said here and you go on and on with this campaign add. Somewhere you must have a question embedded in here. He wants substantive engagement, not sound bite engagement. I caught little glimpses of the audience well toward the very end. The audience reaction showed many representatives really listening. Do we dare hope that the gridlock will soften. Thanks so much for bringing this topic up. P.S. I notice that readership is increasing. Up to 36? now. I remember it was in single digits not too long ago. It takes time to build an audience. It is gonna happen.

  3. It was a fascinating event. That said, I'm not in favor of exporting question time from Britian to the US. It'd quickly turn into a food fight. See C-Span on Sunday nights for evidence of that.