I’m sure you’ve all heard of this by now:
Just two days after giving the State of the Union speech, President Obama stepped into the lion’s den at the GOP retreat in Baltimore Friday to make a fresh start with House Republican leaders. Obama accepted the invitation from the Republican leadership to discuss upcoming legislation initiatives and to participate in a question and answer session about some contentious public policy decisions.
(If you haven’t seen it yet, you can get the whole series of videos here.)
I did watch it, and I should also note that I didn’t really watch the State of the Union address other than a few snippets here and there. I suspect I could have just as easily skipped out on watching both of them. President Obama is a great speaker and clearly a very intelligent and articulate man who performs with admirable coolness under fire–but I already knew all that, dating back from before Obama was actually President. I do admit that it is a pleasure to have him be the official face of America both at home and abroad–I spent most of Bush’s eight years in office cringing every time he opened his mouth.
But I wasn’t too impressed by the activity itself. Really, more even than being unimpressed, I found myself wondering why on earth it was occurring at all. To promote bipartisanship..? Not likely. As anyone who has actually dealt with groups of people who disagree while simultaneously being necessary to whatever final goal is being attempted knows (and if you’ve spent any time in corporate America at anything above the level of absolute peon, that’s you), the only way to get people to really cooperate with you is to air your dissention with them in private. Doing so in public will only work if you somehow have their nuts up against the wall anyway so it doesn’t matter what they think or feel. Basically, if you’re doing so in public with someone or someone who has any real power to screw up your agenda, your purpose is actually not to advance your agenda, but either to (a) make yourself look good to your stakeholders or (b) make them look bad to theirs, as publicly as possible.
It is important to realize that, because otherwise you might find yourself wondering why Obama would feel the need to kiss the GOP’s ass with this rather supplicant-scented meeting–my boy Jon did a pretty funny takedown of that attitude a week or so ago, in reference to the Massachusetts special election:
…because you know, if Coakley loses, Democrats will only then have an 18-vote majority in the Senate…which is more than George W. Bush EVER had in the Senate when he did whatever the fuck he wanted to do. In fact, the Democrats have a greater majority than Republicans have had since 1923.
I did go shopping for conservative commentary on the Obama/GOP retreat Q&A, because I found myself wondering if any of them believed it really was ass-kissing, towards them!–turns out that yes, they do indeed believe this.
But the session has been most compelling — the most transparency and openness we’ve seen since the start of his term.
Good on the House Republicans for throwing the doors open.
And, yes, I’m going to compliment the president: Good on him for taking part.
Yet another dividend of the Massachusetts Miracle.
Forget the staged dog-and-pony campaign rallies…
The GOP is touting the benefits of having the president say – on the record – that they have offered substantive proposals. They also argue that this appearance puts Nancy Pelosi in a tough position: the president promised bipartisanship, and she’s delivering none. They see the chance to knock her down a few more pegs…Republican Members were delighted after the presentation.
It’s funny how our Post-Partisan President only gets around to addressing Republicans when he needs their votes. Funny how he didn’t do that for a year…And it is this asshole — President “I Won” — who has staked his young and now failed presidency on nothing but winning and steamrolling the opposition and ignoring critics and demonizing dissenting voices, all to “win” on this issue, to prove he could win, and so to prove that he was El Supremo Jefe and we all had to buckle under his benevolent dictatorship.
It is this asshole who has denied himself the wiggle room to compromise, and so it is this asshole who is now attempting to persuade us to compromise, because he can’t.
That was the majority response…though not all of ‘em are quite that stupid:
Okay, I will be looking for the strengthful nuance that knocks down all arguments.
More than the State of the Union — or on top of the State of the Union — this may be a pivotal moment for the future of the presidential agenda on Capitol Hill. (Democrats are loving this. Chris Hayes, The Nation’s Washington bureau chief, tweeted that he hadn’t liked Obama more since the inauguration.)
Got it. The Prez’s people loved it. Maybe this wasn’t really about inspiring bipartisanship but firing up the base.
…bingo? I don’t really follow conservative bloggers much, but this chicky may be one for me to watch in future.
All-in-all, color me “meh.”