Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama in the lions' den

Did you see the appearance of President Obama at the Republican House members' retreat yesterday? I didn't watch it live, but I did see the replay of it last night on MSNBC. It was very interesting political theater.

Several commentators made the analogy to the Prime Minister's question time in England when the PM stands before the elected representatives and takes their questions. The main difference between that and what we had yesterday is that any representative, including members of his own party, can query the Prime Minister, thus some of the questions are bound to be friendly. In yesterday's exercise, all of the questions were adversarial, if not downright hostile. Most of the questioners prefaced their question with long statements chastising the President.

Happily for his supporters, the President did not give an inch and gave as good - actually better - than he got. He answered their questions, told them to their faces when they were actually mistating facts either accidentally or on purpose, and showed a great command of all the topics that they chose to bring up. He maintained his cool and civil attitude throughout and repeatedly gave his bipartisanship pitch and asked his adversaries to negotiate and work with him for the good of the country rather than just saying "no" reflexively. It was a feisty and truly impressive performance that must has heartened Democrats who have hoping for the president to show a bit more fight.

Can we expect to see more of this push back from President Obama? One can only hope so. I think it is just what the Democratic Party needs, someone to get out front and lead - someone to stiffen their spines. It can only have been exhilarating to them to see their president walk into the lions' den and walk out wearing a lion-skin coat.

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