republicans on C-Span, you really should. Even (maybe especially) if
you do not like the president, you should really check it out. Not
only was there a huge range of topics covered from the deficit, to
lobbyists working within the administration, to healthcare reform to
just a whole slew of things. It was candid and cordial, but the
president showed that his grasp of issues as well as GOP stances on
any given subject is substantial. He's read their proposed legislation
and understands their views. And he doesn't hesitate to call them out
on the fact that even though the proposed healthcare reform bill
contains a LOT of initiatives that they themselves have proposed in
the past and that the bill is a very centrist piece of legislation
that they oppose it for nothing other than political reasons.
"The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard
Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this
debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard
Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on
"... but that's not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the
debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd
think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.
"No, I mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented it.
"And so I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, how is it that a plan that is
pretty centrist ...'
"No, look, I mean, I'm just saying -- I know you guys disagree, but if
you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would
say this is actually what many Republicans -- it -- it's similar to
what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his
debate on health care.
"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
"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's doing all kinds of crazy stuff
that's going to destroy America.'
"And I -- I would just say that we have to think about tone.
"It's not just on your side, by the way. It's -- it's on our side as
well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we
demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting
things done, it becomes tough to do."
It is indeed tough to get anything accomplished. Sadly, it even harder
for the GOP to find any common ground or wiggle room to make a
compromise. For a whole year they've been painting themselves into a
corner by playing on the fears of their base and their constituents
and spreading misinformation about death panels, government takeovers
of the healthcare system, socialism, etc. For them to reverse
themselves and come to the table and negotiate at this point they are
going to have to lose face with their voters and the conservative
elements within their party. (Not to mention that Glenn Beck and his
ilk are going to call them a bunch of un-patriotic traitors.) The
president has "called them out" on their over-politicization of the
issues, but he's doing it with an open hand. He's giving them a chance
to come to the table and talk, without undue recrimination or laying
of blame. To be honest, I'm sure that the door has always been open to
them but with his back-and-forth with the GOP on C-Span (not that too
many people aside from true political junkies watch it - I rarely
watch it, myself.) the president has turned on the Klieg lights and
shown that he's not only willing to work with them, but understands
their stance on the various issues.
They can continue to hold up the process, filibuster the hell out of
every bill to go through the senate, and obstruct the Democratic
agenda or they can stop the nonsense and the lying and take part in
the process. Last I checked, that's the way Democracy is supposed to
work. If the majority of the people elect you (and your agenda) into
office that should be a clear-enough signal of what they want