Obama Meets Republicans, Wins Back Jon Stewart

If you haven’t yet watched President Obama’s lively and engaging Q&A during a GOP retreat last Friday, what are you waiting for? (Or you could just catch the high points, with an obviously delighted Jon Stewart, below.)

Yes, political points aplenty were scored. But more importantly, Obama was modeling a type of civil discourse that, so far as I can recall, hasn’t been much in evidence during the past quarter-century, if then. The Republicans came prepared with their written talking points, while Obama responded extemporaneously for the most part, like a jazz improviser, with respect for the ideological differences separating him from his opponents.

Obama’s most important observation, however, may well have been his thoughts on the guaranteed mutual destruction assured by the current political climate. His presence at the Republican confab demonstrated a real alternative, one that both sides of the aisle would do well to emulate. But I’m not holding my breath.

So all I’m saying is, we’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to agree on everything, whether it’s on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.


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