Friday, January 29, 2010

Clap your hands if you believe.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Maybe the single step was the invitation of Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), chairman of the Republican Conference , to President Obama to address the Republican retreat in Baltimore today.  The President spoke for twenty minutes, then took questions for an hour.
He ended his introductory remarks this way: ”We've gotten caught up in the political game in a way that's just not healthy.  It's dividing our country in ways that are preventing us from meeting the challenges of the 21st century.  I'm hopeful that the conversation we have today can help reverse that.”
The session was—as diplomats describe difficult negotiations—frank. Even combative. But both sides—the President and the 140 Republican congressmen—appeared to listen. There was real conversation going on. The President wrapped up the session with this:
“And so the question is, at what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability, or a serious question about -- a serious conversation about Social Security, or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we're not simply trying to position ourselves politically.  That's what I'm committed to doing.  We won't agree all the time in getting it done, but I'm committed to doing it.”
The ideal of Niebuhr—the political fight waged with good temper and integrity—seems a little closer today than it was yesterday. Clap your hands if you believe.


Judith Ellis said...

Oh, Bob, I hate to sound so partisan but there was very little real dialogue going on during this Q&A session. The large majority of the Republicans showed themselves for what they are: ideological non-pragmatic campaign talking pointers without a real idea in their heads. Many of them couldn't think on their feet; most of them were reading from notes. President Obama stood there WITHOUT a teleprompter, as Republican analysts are fond of remarking on, and delivered pure brilliance. His command of the issues was riveting.

Oh, I am indeed sorry for that comment considering the President's bipartisan effort and your positive post. But it is true nevertheless. I defy anyone here who actually saw the session to actually disagree with me rationally point by point. While I appreciate the post and President Obama's effort, I am happy the session was live as it was very revealing indeed. Maybe now some real work can be accomplished.

By the way, had Snowe, Lugar or Collins been present perhaps it would have been different. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of these Republicans even if I don't agree on everything. I think they can be reasoned with. I am very impressed with President Obama's effort here even when I had really begun to think that bipartisanship was simply not possible and reconciliation necessary as was used frequently in the last Congress. I think it is still on the table, but I do appreciate President Obama's effort. He has the makeup of a real leader. Proud I am of our president.

Bob said...

I'm proud of him too, and I don't have any real disagreement with you--except I'm a teensy bit more sympathetic to the Reps there. They weren't ALL quite that bad. Anyway, I celebrate the session as a POSSIBLE first step. Maybe it'll lead to more. Let's all hope so.

Judith Ellis said...

OK, OK, Bob, more sympathy is forthcoming. I promise. Can you hear my clapping hands?