I watched the President speak unscripted to House Republicans in a Baltimore hotel yesterday courtesy of JetBlue. The president’s appearance in the lion’s den was unprecedented and given what Mass. senator-elect Scott Brown has been doing lately, maybe, just maybe, Republican and Democrats can work together.
This nano-thaw in relations could lead to a ceasefire or better, a truce. It’s a start. After all, aren’t we all on the same side?
Obama was brilliant and talking candidly about about the animosity on both sides sows the seeds of mutual self-destruction. He had the courage to walk into the enemy camp and take question extemporaneously (apparently, the meeting was supposed to be behind close doors, but it wasn’t).
“We have have to be careful what we say about each other because it boxes us in. [We need] a tone of civility instead of slash and burn,” said the president.
Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz asked why the healthcare reform debate was not broadcast on Cspan and why Obama hired lobbyists in his administration when he said he wouldn’t. I didn’t catch Obama’s answer, but he replied that the charge was not entirely true. That Chaffetz got to asked the question point blank was testiment to Obama’s deep desire for bipartisanship.
The Republicans asked the president to stop calling them “the party of no.” Obama called on Republicans to stop calling his ideas “Bolshevik” and labeing him “a crazy guy who’s doing bad things for the country.” Obama also said the Republicans have substantive proposals and that he read them.
It was raw and all out on the table. Now what?
Were any minds changed? Will any Republicans occasionally vote with the president instead of hoping to freeze government until they have another shot in the midterms and 2012? I pray it be so.
As for Brown, I’ve have been pleasantly surprised. He has reached out to key Masschusetts Democrats because he knows he has to work with them. Casting himself as an independent, Brown is acting more like one now than he did in the campaign.
He has met with Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick. He even ate a little crow when Deval explained to Brown that his earlier remarks about the state not speeding Stimulus dollars fast enough were in error. Brown confessed to not knowing a couple of things.
Maybe it’s the altitude that’s getting to me given I’m on a TVed JetBlue flight to Florida, but I am hopeful and that Scott Brown’s election might be a turning point. I am as partisan as anyone and voted for his opponent Martha Coakley, but at the end of the day, I’d first and foremost like to see the country and Congress come together and get the nation’s work done.
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