Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama's Q&A with the GOP

If you haven't seen this yet, you definitely should.


  1. I don't know if I could handle that kind of pressure. That's pretty admirable.

    Despite my far far far left-leaning personal political beliefs, I really respect this attention to "bipartisanship." It's great to see the President so willing and adamant in his position to work with the other side (which I DO think he has done -- far more than the right gives the administration credit for). I only hope that that willingness to work with the right-wing won't translate into the subjugation of his own will to the will of the political game. I hope the administration will listen to the republicans with an open mind, but refuse to incorporate policies that won't work.

    There are imperfections with every party, every system (even my beloved socialist ideals), every candidate, every bill, every proposal. My desire is that the Obama administration will keep an open ear, but not bend backwards to comply with policies that don't make sense. Unfortunately, I feel that the President has done that in the past (e.g. his early advocacy of single payer healthcare which miraculously disappeared).

    But speaking of the "political game". . .
    I really enjoyed hearing the President be so down-to-earth, and emphasize the importance for representatives to not bog themselves down with opposition for the sake of opposition just to win elections. Worrying about getting re-elected squanders real progress, and promotes irrational bias purely because it's what the constituents want to hear -- and I think the President did a good job at portraying that, and asking for a change.

    I wish more politicians would be willing to commit political suicide for the greater good.

    The greater good. Let us all try and keep that in mind. Forget about your own agendas, and work to progress the nation's.

    Post-Script: In future political blogosphere debates, I think we ought to keep these examples in mind. Be willing to listen. Be willing to fight for and argue a just cause, but be willing to admit when you are wrong. Be willing to pick the good from every political ideology, and avoid bias. Avoid heated rhetoric. I think we could all do better at these things -- myself included.

  2. An interesting reaction to this photo-op:

  3. Well of course Rove sees everything that Obama does as a political move. That is what he spent the last decade ordering Bush to do.

    If you go to or, you will see that Rove is in fact the one wrong here with his claims.

    And of course you think it's just a photo-op. Your as cynical as it gets.

  4. You *don't* think that was a photo-op? The SOTU address made it clear that Obama wants to portray Republicans as the source of all his woes when every measurement to indicate the popular attitudes toward his current proposals shows a widespread resentment and disagreement. I don't think making himself appear above the fray will improve his image much only because polls make it seem that he has lost a lot of trust, and much of these overtures could be interpreted as strategic and callous. Obama was at it again today, going after Republicans again as obstructionists:

    It will appear like just another political maneuver to most Americans, in my opinion, kinda like the Beer Summit, a kind of way to feign dialogue when he shows no sign of actually bending his policy toward whatever useful ideas may come from his opponents.

    I haven't found Factcheck or Politifact check on this article, and my best review of their checks on Rove didn't reveal anything that suggests he's wrong in this instance. Furthermore, I personally verified the data by looking at the budget proposal on the White House website, and he's right about what's not frozen and what is. So his criticism has merit, and I think lends credence to the fact that Obama really is trying to maneuver politically to repair his image. I'd rather Obama *really* dialogue, not just debate, which I don't see in this Baltimore discussion too much. Debate is fine, but he's the one calling for dialogue, so he needs to step it up and actually open up space for himself to champion something else. I just don't see him doing that right now.

    Twice calling me cynical... and "as cynical as it gets." Wow, I take that as a personal blow if you really believe that about me...

  5. "polls make it seem that he has lost a lot of trust"

    And much of that loss also comes from the left who feel Obama has abandoned them for a naive hope in centrism.

    "he shows no sign of actually bending his policy toward whatever useful ideas may come from his opponents"

    That is complete nonsense as is evidence by the left who has become frustrated with Obama for accommodating the GOP when it is abundantly clear that they (the GOP) are going to be obstructionists who will only side with something that goes completely their way--which I admit some on the left are doing right now as well.

    "Twice calling me cynical... and 'as cynical as it gets.'"

    Yes. I did.

  6. Obama has called for civility in the debate. Good step forward.

    The article I posted from the SF Examiner supports my statement: he is still calling upon Democrats to fight for their version of health care. Even in his requests for civility and for Republicans to offer their ideas, he still emphasizes how they need to agree with him that they must as lawmakers provide a comprehensive solution. I'd like to see how the left who are frustrated with Obama's "accommodations" of the GOP are showing a change in Obama's policy. They dislike any semblance of crossing the aisle, but that doesn't evince any change in Obama's policy, just a disagreement with his current behavior and, maybe, strategy. To date, he hasn't advocated any policy that at all deviates from his previous proposals; hence my contention that he hasn't and isn't showing any signs of bending his policy toward useful ideas that originate from his opposition. I don't see how this qualifies as "complete nonsense."

  7. "To date, he hasn't advocated any policy that at all deviates from his previous proposals."

    Except dropping the public option, changing plans for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gitmo, modifying tax breaks to include GOP plans, including tort reform....

    So when dems from the left criticize Obama for abandoning his original policies, they are all just blowing hot air and playing a role in his nefarious political strategy?

  8. " 'To date, he hasn't advocated any policy that at all deviates from his previous proposals.'

    Except dropping the public option, changing plans for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gitmo, modifying tax breaks to include GOP plans, including tort reform...."

    Let's not forget that the President, in the earliest parts of his campaign, was an advocate for Single-Payer Universal Health Care. He completely subjugated that will to the will of corporate democrats and conservatives. Obama's presidency has been nothing but compromise, back-bending, and push-over politics.

    And it's really too bad.

  9. "Except dropping the public option": he vacillated on a "single-payer system" but remained terribly ambiguous the whole time. The authors of the bill put the public option in there, then could get enough support for it, so scrapped it. His stance on the public option was too ambiguous to qualify as advocacy from Obama himself. In fact, the frustrations from supporters of single-payer coverage stemmed from this ambiguity, and later frustration that it wasn't going to end up in the final bill.

    "changing plans for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gitmo": his Gitmo plans have run into snags, but I haven't found any mention of him reversing his position on his Gitmo policy. His Afghanistan war strategy is the clearest example of advocating policy that deviates from a previous proposal, yes. I would add, though, that his party-line advisors were recognizing the situation there and made suggestions for troop increases; I'm not convinced this represented for Obama a moment of bipartisanship, in fact, he limited and in some cases closed out GOP involvement in his strategic planning, infuriating Republicans.

    "modifying tax breaks to include GOP plans": I've only heard speculation about his modifications of tax breaks, but even so, he's increasing the tax burden on the top bracket, increasing spending, and increasing the budget beyond even its 2009 post-stimulus levels. The GOP plans don't call for additional taxation on any bracket and definitely call for a massive reduction in spending, which Obama is avoiding.

    "tort reform": Obama appears to avoid seriously advocating tort reform, and his current proposals sound a lot like his Sept. speech on health care reform: vague and a hazy platitude of what should happen... maybe happen... I'm still waiting to hear him pitch serious tort reform to Democrats in Congress.

    "they are all just blowing hot air and playing a role in his nefarious political strategy?": who would think a silly thing like that? I sure don't. But they do perceive shifts in position that I attribute not to bipartisanship but to ineffective leadership and conflicting messages.

  10. Oh, and the article on his Sept. tort reform proposal (I think I forgot to link it):

  11. Let me just add that even though Obama has consistently been moving toward the middle, doing so isn't necessarily a good thing. While it is true that the GOP has been putting up plans, it doesn't mean that those plans have been good. Have you read the CBO assessment of the GOP plan? It does nothing significant. It will not increase coverage. It will not significantly lower prices--for the sick and privately covered it will actually raise costs. It will not significantly reduce the deficit. It just doesn't turn into any sort of real reform.

    Furthermore, tort reform cannot and should not be done with caps--which the GOP is proposing. While I do believe that tort reform is needed, it is not needed for the deficit, but for the doctors. A cap however is the wrong idea. If a doctor maliciously or flagrantly makes a mistake, I believe a cap should not limit the amount a doctor could be sued for. If a doctor comes into a surgery drunk and resultingly causes serious and irreparable damage to a patient, there should not be an arbitrary limit placed on the patient for what they could sue the doctor for.

    A limit is a bad deal. What is needed is tort reform that somehow manages to protect both the doctor and the rights of the patient. What is this? I have no clue. However, it seems clear that Obama is aware of this and that this is why he has pushed for incentivising a creativity in policy-making and experimentation to find one that works.

  12. Yeah, the GOP hack-job bill that they pushed just so they could contrast it with the 2,000-page Pelosi house bill doesn't represent significant reform. I personally thought it was a weak effort to counter the "party of no" claims, which didn't do them any good. The same Americans that voted for Obama, then pushed hard against his health care strategy hate the GOP even *more*, which demonstrates a populism resulting from frustration on all sides. I mean, goodness' sake, Congressional approval is at, what, 20%?

    Tort reform definitely has pluses and minuses. It's a tricky one. I'm with you on the cap idea. ...Probably best to increase the risk of litigation so that those that have a legitimate case will come forward with it, and those that are reaching wouldn't want to risk it if the consequences for losing the suit could cost them significantly. But even then we ought to debate thoroughly that scenario because I could see insurance companies targeting loop holes, and they're the ones with teams of litigation experts representing them.

  13. So Dave, which of the GOP's proposals do you want to appropriate which he hasn't already? And which of his original proposals do you want him to abandon?

  14. This comment is perhaps neither here nor there, but seeing Obama "in action," so to speak, restored some of my confidence in him. His administration has suffered from political naivete, and his policy flip-flops have been very disappointing (especially in the national security context), but I think Obama is an intelligent and deliberative leader who genuinely relishes good faith dialogue and debate--as evidenced by his handling of the Q&A with GOP leaders. I don't see how an hour-long, teleprompter-less, off-the-cuff dialogue with the opposition party can be reduced to a "photo-op."

    The GOP isn't serious about contributing to governance, because they know that, so long as they can prevent the wheels of government from turning, the populace will remain upset. Hence the delay and attempted filibustering of even the most routine and non-controversial of Obama nominees (see here and here). The GOP has not meaningfully contributed to the national dialogue since Obama was sworn into office.


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