(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
For those of you who have watched “Prime Ministers Questions” on cspan and wished we had a similar format here in the US, yesterday that wish sort-of came true. President Obama held a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” at the White House and invited congressional leaders, union representatives, industry leaders and others to talk about the difficult task of our country’s fiscal challenges. After they had met in small groups on topic areas, Obama made some remarks (transcript) and then opened the floor for questions/comments. It was an interesting back-and-forth.
But I was particularly interested in this (just the first 35 seconds of the video):
As we have seen over the last few weeks, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who is the House Minority Whip, has become the spokesman for the obstructionist policies of the Republicans. What Obama said to him echoes these lines from his inaugural address.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
He actually got more specific in response to a statement from Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).
REP. BARTON: On the other hand, if you really follow up and include everybody in the process, you’re more than likely to get a solution that everybody signs off on. And I have said or stood behind every President since Reagan in this room at bill signing ceremonies that were the result of consensus. So I commend you for doing this.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think you’re making an important point. And, you know, my response, first of all is, I’m not in Congress so I don’t want to interject myself too much into congressional politics. But I do want to make this point, and I think it’s important — on the one hand, the majority has to be inclusive. On the other hand, the minority has to be constructive.
What I see Obama doing is inviting everyone to the “grown-up table” where ideas that are constructive can be exchanged. This is NOT the way politics has been played in the past. As BooMan points out.
Plain and simple. Barack Obama isn’t the devil and he isn’t 100% wrong about everything and he isn’t looking to railroad Republicans or to dismiss anything individual members might have to contribute. And, thus, the whole Republican playbook is filled with plays that won’t gain a first down, let along a touchdown.
And, honestly, we all have to learn from this just as much as the Republicans do. We’re all so jaded and scarred from the last thirty years of politics that we don’t know any other way to operate…We don’t want to work with Republicans and we consider use of any of their ideas to be something between foolishness and cowardice. It’s a reflection of decades of ever-increasing political polarization. But, I’m telling you, Obama is going to keep putting us in the sandbox together until we start changing our behavior. Even if turns out that we can’t work together, the whole spectacle is unlike anything I’ve seen in my life, and it’s pure political gold.
So, the Republicans can choose if they want to continue with the strategies of the past and consign themselves to ongoing ridicule and marginalization. Or they can join the grown-ups in partnership to find constructive answers that address the challenges we face.
I think Mr. Cantor is feeling the heat!