Watching the President field hard questions from the Republican's at their Baltimore retreat last Friday was incredibly compelling, entertaining, and enlightening. Republicans (including my own poor excuse for a Congressman, Jason Chaffetz) were allowed to ask carefully pointed questions, couched in GOP talking points, directly to President Obama.
And he couldn't have pulled it off better.
I've been pretty disappointed by the Presidents actions in the last few weeks, but this question and answer session reminded me why I like him and feel like I should be trusting him, generally. Sure, I'm still probably not going to get the single payer health care the country so desperately needs, but he's a very eloquent and even handed leader. And he's incredibly capable at cutting through the lies and the spin of the Republican machine.
The Republicans were able to ask Obama questions on their own terms and were quite politely rebuked with facts and reality.
For one, I think this platform allowed Obama to shine and he should try to take advantage of opportunities like this more often. For two, it was incredibly powerful to see Obama in a room full of the loyal opposition and have them all act respectful and polite. It's something that's missing on the floor of the House and Senate and in the media and it was nice to see it.
But at the end of the day, the Republicans left with the message that Obama won't be steam rolled by rhetoric and twisting of the facts for political gain and that he's more than willing to listen to them and take any ideas that are actually realistic to implement.
My bigger question is why doesn't Obama have to do this more often? I would love to see an hour every couple of weeks where he appears before the House or Senate and just answers questions in public. It's important for the public to see him cut the spin, unfiltered and unedited, and it's important for the public to see him do it right to the faces of those doing it.
If we could mandate this somehow, ask our lawmakers to require the President to face a public questioning every month or so, we could both fix and prevent a lot of problems. How far into the Iraq war do you think we would have really gotten if Bush had been forced to answer unscripted questions from Democrats every month during the lead up?
This is a very good first step in involving the public in the legislative process once more.
In the meantime, I'm going to watch this hour of television over and over again. And I regret ever saying that reality TV was terrible, because this was unscripted drama at its best.
Bryan Young is the producer of Killer at Large and editor of Big Shiny Robot!