Obama Talks With GOP

Obama Talks With GOP


I know a lot of folks are talking about how Obama “schooled” Republicans today, but let’s get past that. Yes, if you watch the following Obama comes off extremely well. But can we focus on whether or not this type of dialogue is good for the country? I’d say yes, yes, a thousand times YES!, as this is one of the first truly substantive steps Obama has taken to bridging the gap between the Ds and Rs during his tenure.

Check out the dialogue here and tell us what you think in the comments…

Long story short, don’t fall for the media’s/blogosphere’s talking points about Obama winning. Because that’s the tired, combative narrative they want you to fall for. If we’re to truly move forward and have a constructive debate, we have to look at this for what it is…a productive dialogue that will hopefully lead to more. On this point I hope we can all agree.

More in a month…fingers crossed.

  • http://sovereignmind.wordpress.com Mike

    I agree: the President came off extremely well and raised the bar for political dialog. Most of the Republicans weren’t prepared with anything more than talking points. Hopefully they’ll step up for next time, like Paul Ryan did. (I’m hoping the president was serious about his follow-up with Ryan).

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    I like this too and would like to see it be a regular event, similar to what England does when the PM visits the HoC. Not all American Presidents could have carried this off so well, but maybe if they were required to, we’d see better leadership.

    I like both the offer Obama has extended, and the way he has extended it. I’m not seeing a tail between Obama’s legs at all. I see a combination of determination and a genuine willingness to listen to both sides.

    What we need is more public playing out. On things like healthcare, what we need first is a multitude of legitimate public discussions like this one, which is what Obama promised when he ran. {Some will claim that this already happened, but is that the general public’s impression?] That should lead to a collecting and evaluating of ideas. Then we need a bill co-written by both sides. And then we need a real up or down vote, not a short circuit if we don’t have 60 votes in the senate.

    Filibusters are supposed to be historically rare, not an everyday threat. We should go back to a time when all but the most controversial of bills could pass on a 54-46 vote. The sort of public playing out described above is what helps make a filibuster rare. The democrats should be willing to publicly play out the debate, and then if necessary, make the GOP really filibuster. Don’t pack up your toys when you have 57 votes. Put the other guys on the public treadmill and make them actually run. Make them weigh the costs. Then if the public thinks the filibusterers are heroes, you lose. But if the public thinks they are petulant jerks unwilling to step aside after they lost the day following a legitimate process, then the democrats win.

    That’s the thing about brinksmanship (which filibustering is). If the other side always backs down on the threat. no one really knows what’s what. And the rare threat evolves to become de rigeur.

    You need to keep people honest. To be crass, you need to make sure that anyone who wants to start a d!ck-measuring contest with you knows that you’ll slap yours out on the table and pull out a ruler.

    And the SOTU and this event suggests to me that Obama is whipping his out. Figuratively. Not in an ugly or crass way at all. In a way that says both that he is serious about cooperation _and_ that he is the one who is the President.

    This guy is the Obama I liked and voted for.

  • Mike A.

    I agree KK. This is the guy I was hoping for. The question is, what happens now. If the republicans see this meeting as a net negative for them, will they continue to allow engagement, or will they retreat and avoid direct contact with the president?

  • Jim S

    I see them retreating, thinking that the perception of them refusing to engage won’t matter to their base. Those who really understand that they need more than that base will keep their fingers crossed that other voters just forget it ever happened.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Some factions within the GOp will want to retreat, and maintain obstinacy. That was clear from the bitchy spike-haired hag I saw on one of the sunday am shows.

    But that woman, whoever she was, is a perfect example of the stuff folks are tired of.

    Note that Obama is not going to achieve anything lasting unless he keeps on with his current tack in a concerted ongoing effort. If he keeps talking his side of the story and inviting the GOP to join in the discsuuion on good faith, then can they GOP just retreat without any engagement aside from noninteractive negative reframing?

    I don’t think they can. Some will want to, but others may well jump ship. Especially if part of Obama’s story includes “call your representative and tell him to talk with the president.”

    What was done in the last week is exactly HOW a President uses the bully pulpit to his advantage. With as effective a communicator as Obama, the GOP will have a hard time winning the debate, because the President gets first say, last say, and the most say when stuff gets reported. Reagan did this effectively. Clinton did this effectively. Obama can too, because it’s quite obvious he has the chops.

  • michael mcEachran

    The man has more patience than Job. I don’t anyone that could have handled that without at least one or two smirks of disgust rolling across their faces. Not to mention the sheer command of the issues he has.

    Now that the independents have restored divided government which they are most comfortable with (by way of the Mass. election), I think Obama has a BETTER chance of coaxing some bi-partisanism out the GOP. I think he’ll be a better Pres without the super majority behind him. We’ll see, but this event is pretty good evidence that he’s on his way.

  • http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/ mw

    He talks a good game. Always has. Still does. It’s that darn “walk the walk” part that was and is the problem. His actions do not match his rhetoric. The rhetoric is really really good though.

    However, to be fair, there is no reason for the President to expect he would need to act in a centrist or bipartisan manner with the majorities that the Dems command in the legislature. Who knew the Dems would obstruct his agenda and that he actually would need Republican votes? The administration sure didn’t think they needed them. Live and learn.

    Absolutely – this dialog is good for the country. I’d like to see this kind of interaction become institutionalized, although I have no idea how that could happen. This is much more useful than the partisan campaign speechifying and vacuous political theater that the SOTU has become. I see benefits for both sides – not only would it move the President further along in his on-the-job training on how to govern, but the Republican “loyal opposition” would have to step up their game and sharpen their rhetoric beyond sound bites.

    @Michael McEachran
    I need to correct you on one point. Divided government has not been restored. This is, and is likely to continue to be one party Democratic rule until 2013. Hopefully one party rule does not continue past then with a GOP sweep.

    “Divided government” is a specific well defined term in political science. It means that one party does not have a majority in both legislative branches while also controlling the executive. To restore divided government the Republicans would have to be in a majority in either the Senate or House. Reference the “bibles” on the topic – “Divided Government” by Morris Fiorina and “Divided We Govern” by David Mayhew.

    When we truly have divided government (a la Clinton from ‘1994 – 2000″, GWB from ’07-’08’), you don’t have to worry about empty rhetoric. If it’s not bipartisan, legislation doesn’t happen. The process is not pretty, but it is guaranteed to be bipartisan.

  • Trescml

    It could be a possible start to further dialog, but the question is whether there will be follow up on both sides. Obama handled himself very well, but the Republicans got some takeaways as well in the form of Obama taking blame for some problems and that Obama is actually looks at the alternative legislation that the Republicans have put out.

    With midterms coming up and the momentum on Republican’s side, they may have a vested interest in staying the course. That may or may not be more difficult depending on what the legislative agenda is. For jobs and financial regulation it will be harder for the Republicans to obstruct things, but will be easy for environmental and health care (and the Democrats are doing a pretty good job of slowing that down anyway).

  • WHQ

    The democrats should be willing to publicly play out the debate, and then if necessary, make the GOP really filibuster. Don’t pack up your toys when you have 57 votes. Put the other guys on the public treadmill and make them actually run.

    Something to keep in mind about filibusters and where the burden really lies:


    Today, all-night sessions are very unusual. The Senate may not even convene earlier or remain in session later when a filibuster is in progress than it does on other days. One reason may be that filibusters are not the extraordinary and unusual occurrences that they once were. Another may be that Senators are less willing to endure the inconvenience and discomfort of prolonged sessions.

    The latter point is important because late-night or all-night sessions put as much or more of a burden on the proponents of the question being debated than on its opponents. The Senators participating in the filibuster need only ensure that at least one of their number always is present on the floor to speak. The proponents of the question, however, need to ensure that a majority of the Senate is present or at least available to respond to a quorum call or roll call vote. If, late in the evening or in the middle of the night, a Senator suggests the absence of a quorum and a quorum does not appear, the Senate must adjourn or at least suspend its proceedings until a quorum is established. This works to the advantage of the filibustering Senators, so the burden rests on their opponents to ensure that the constitutional quorum requirement always can be met.

  • TerenceC

    I really liked it, he really sounded in charge. Obama was very presidential when he was running for the office and for what ever reason governed like a minority party senator for the last year – it was a real disappointment for many of his supporters. I thought his 90 minute exercise with the R’s showed amazing grasp of the issues and was exceedingly detailed in every respect. He is a President that we should all be proud of and although there are strong differences of opinion politically it does not have to result in the poor governing we have all seen since 1980. These people (clowns depending on your perspective) do need to get things done – maybe they will finally start doing what the American people sent them there to do.

  • Doomed

    Yes he gives a good speech.

    Unfortunately for America he has never held a job. Never had to meet a payroll. Never been in charge of ANYTHING of substance. Never published any papers.

    On the practical side, Obama has spent more money on new programs in nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, pushing the annual deficit to $1.4 trillion. This leaves little room for big spending initiatives.

    Unfortunately for us:

    The deficit for this year would surge to a record-breaking $1.56 trillion, topping last year’s then unprecedented $1.41 trillion gap. The deficit would remain above $1 trillion in 2011 …..cut and pasted from Yahoo news.

    Ill let this speak for itself.

    Yes he talked to the GOP. Reminding them that until November he still has a huge majority. After 2010….after Americans have digested this budget the democrats will lose 50-60 seats in the house and 10 seats in the senate……The GOP will be in charge of both houses after november.

    Obama will be a one term president….Its just a matter of how much damage to America he is allowed to do in the next 10 months.

    Sorry but the man is a complete and utter incompetent failure who has surrounded himself with Idealogues who have also NEVER had to meet payroll.

    At least one good thing about this presidency…..It will take 50 years for the progressive movement to recover after 4 years of this man in the White House. Much like the disaster that Jimmy Carter perpetrated on the nation and the Progressive movement in 1976.