About time we had some debate: Obama vs. Republicans

When the people are finally sick and tired of being spoon-fed partisan BS coming from the corporate puppets we elect- and the tide has turned against the leader, they finally decide to try something new- that’s as old as democracy itself: Debate:

President Obama denied he was a Bolshevik, the Republicans denied they were obstructionists and both sides denied they were to blame for the toxic atmosphere clouding the nation’s political leadership….

What ensued was a lively, robust debate between a president and the opposition party that rarely happens in the scripted world of American politics.

For an hour and 22 minutes, with the cameras rolling, they thrust and parried, confronting each other’s policies and politics while challenging each other to meet in the middle. Intense and vigorous, sometimes even pointed, the discussion nonetheless proved remarkably civil and substantive for a relentlessly bitter era, an airing of issues that both sides often say they need more of.

via Off Script, Obama and the G.O.P. Vent Politely – NYTimes.com.

Long ago in American history- there were debates as well. The most famous being Lincoln/Douglas lasting 4.5 hours. In our short-attention-span, brain-dead country full of followers- who think “Avatar” is deep political thought- what happened yesterday can only be viewed as a baby step in the right direction.

Imagine a country where the Republicans and the Democrats actually had to stare each other down- in free-form debate- on what they will do once elected, and then actually be on record as having a position to be held accountable to?

Sort of like what Greg and I do daily- on the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show- where we discuss the discussion they had yesterday:

Debate is good for democracy. Let’s start requiring.

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19 Responses

  1. jstults January 30, 2010 / 10:08 pm
    David, I think the great communicator would agree with your assessment of Greg’s Republicanism:

    If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to insure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.

    Unfortunately, now there’s little to choose between the two parties.  Saying the Republicans are the party of small government is just a joke.  They tax (or borrow) and spend the same as any Democrat.  Neither party seems very concerned about individual liberty, and are much more concerned with consolidating power.  The right uses terrorists and the left uses climate change.  The right would trade our freedoms to protect us from idiots on jetliners, and the left would trade them to protect us from melting glaciers.  To hell with either of those “choices”; there’s  a good reason most Americans are not registered with either party.  This most recent political theatre will not do anything to change the general displeasure folks feel for partisan elites of either stripe.
     
    Another classic from Ronnie:

    You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down — up to a man’s age-old dream; the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

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  2. John Ise January 31, 2010 / 8:35 am
    Wouldn’t it be great if we had this on a regular basis.  See how it’s done in the UK at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpZhugomNJE&feature=related
     
    P.S. Obama cleaned their clocks so wonder if the Republicans will want him back.

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  3. jstults January 31, 2010 / 9:14 am
    John Ise:

    Obama cleaned their clocks…

    So was it political theatre (winners and losers, soundbites, gotchas) or an honest effort to talk things over?

    “It was not a gesture,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said. “Our intention was not us-win-them-lose. I think he showed sincerity by going there.”
    Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, said of Obama, “He genuinely believes that if you get away from all the pure political posturing, there should be enough stuff in each piece of legislation that can garner bipartisan support.”
    The Theater in the meeting between Obama and House Republicans

    The rhetoric seems to say it was supposed to be genuine discussion, but the (intended?) effect (as evidenced by your comment) seems to point at something else.  What does the rest of the team have to say about it?

    In a conversation with journalists, Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, was blunt about what Republicans can expect if they don’t find a way to compromise.

    “We are going to very visibly seek their support moving forward, and we will shine a bright light on them when they don’t,” he said. “If they want to block everything . . . they will be held to account.”

    Axelrod accused the GOP of “rooting for failure.”

    “They made a decision they were going to sit it out and hope that we failed — that the country failed,” he said.

    Until now, he suggested, Obama has been too gentle. “They didn’t pay enough of a price for what was a determined strategy not to work with us,” he said.

    Now, “they either work with us or they have to pay the price for working against us.”
    Obama’s Strategy: blame the other guys

    With us or against us, now where have I heard that before?

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  4. Ice Bandit January 31, 2010 / 11:23 am
    Oh sweet memories, dear David, of when the Old Bandito was a mere lad. For in that time, debate was still a respected art, with college debates televised nationally and the highest honor bestowed on a high school scholar was being named on the debate team. Alas, as America has allowed itself to be dumbed-down, formal debate has gone the way of dance-marathons and barrel-jumping and been replaced by ego-driven and partisan contradiction. So indeed and in fact, dear David, the Old Bandito is on your debate bandwagon. However, dear David, methinks you confuse lecture and monologue, which is what the President engaged in to the Republican reps, with debate. No resolved, thesis or antithesis here, merely a listing, reeling and on-the-ropes Chief Executive asking the very opponents he has spent the last year villifying why they can’t be more like him? It was the political equivalent of a head coach asking his opponents with the ball and momentum to punt on first down. This President’s denial of being a ideologue or a Bolshevik is the equivalent of Paris Hilton denying she is a skank or Perez Hilton denying he is gay. And if the Great Helmsman ain’t a Bolshevik, he’ll do until the real ones show up……..

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  5. Greg Hunter January 31, 2010 / 2:11 pm
    So was it political theatre (winners and losers, soundbites, gotchas) or an honest effort to talk things over?

    However, dear David, methinks you confuse lecture and monologue, which is what the President engaged in to the Republican reps, with debate.

    Well Gentlemen I can agree that some of our debate is not but some is an honest discussion of what is right and wrong IOHO.
    Now Icey and Mr. Stults are you actually going to say that Mr. Obama has not been trying to work things out with the Republicans?  He continued the programs initiated by George Bush and even installed the Wall Street Stooge Timothy Geithner, and the Republican response…… They sold him out when the public smelled a rat and lost their jobs.  The teabagging Republicans thought they could take advantage of this situation to further advance……now what to Republicans stand for?  Oh not smaller government or efficiency, but war and war mongering against the other.  If I remember correctly Mr Bush started the wars and the bailouts, which have been continued under Obama much to the chagrin of his constituency, so how did the Republicans pay him back – stonewalling on everything.   Really we are arguing over health care when most of the older Americans are covered under Medicare.  Do Republicans want to get rid of socialized medicine then get rid America the scourge of Medicare and while we are at it get rid of the VA.
    Obama is obviously not the smartest tool in the shed, but somebody knows what got him here and that is talking just like the Great Communicator, who blew a great deal of hot air and got his way, or coverage for Dick Cheney and his ilk to consolidate power.  Obama can give a speech and if he wants to use the bully pulpit to call out the Republicans and their culpability in the mess we are in, then it appears that he can do it effectively.  He is up against it and has the “truth” on his side.  The country is right and truly screwed and obstruction by the Republicans should be called out.  We need to get something done and both sides know it.

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  6. jstults January 31, 2010 / 4:09 pm
    Greg, you cover a lot of ground there, maybe I can respond to a bit:

    …somebody knows what got him here and that is talking just like the Great Communicator, who blew a great deal of hot air and got his way, or coverage for Dick Cheney and his ilk to consolidate power.  Obama can give a speech and if he wants to use the bully pulpit to call out the Republicans and their culpability in the mess we are in, then it appears that he can do it effectively.

    Talking is a start, but you have to be able to mobilize people and congress-critters with the talking.  Ronnie talked, and got Congress to spend, and convinced people not to worry about the spending, and the wall came down (eventually).  At some point you have to stand and deliver more than rhetoric.  Whether the talking and spending is just hot air is judged by the results.  Did the wall come down or not?  Did unemployment come down or not?  It could only be considered effective if his haranguing from the pulpit lead the opposition to move towards his agenda.  So how effective has that sermonizing really been?  Do you see any significant movement?  People seem more worried about spending rather than less, and the behaviour of Congress is reflecting that.

    are you actually going to say that Mr. Obama has not been trying to work things out with the Republicans?

    I think it is unreasonable to expect him to be able to force the Congressional Democrats to play nice (why should they when they don’t have to?).  The only thing that put the breaks on the ram-jam (Republican obstructionists be damned) of the health-care bill was the special election in Mass.; then you had folks like Webb coming out and saying “lets slow down a bit”.  I think the President would have signed a bill that got to his desk whether any R’s or I’s voted for it or not.

    They [Republicans] sold him out…

    I’m a little unclear on how one party could ever “sell out” one of the members of the opposing party, but maybe I’m just not grasping the analogy you are going for.  Did they make some sort of deal?

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  7. Greg Hunter January 31, 2010 / 5:35 pm
    then they fight you, then you win.

    Really…I think this statement could have applied to Hitler’s Germany, but you have quoted Ghandi – Nice.  I read the article and if they win God Help Us All.

    Seely grew up across the street from a dairy farm that his father owned, in Ohio, and he considers himself a “green,” by the mid-century standards relating to productive use of the land, in contrast with the “weirdos” whom he now associates with environmental causes. “If they had their way, all the buildings, all industry, all fossil fuel would stop,” he said. “And you can’t have that.” He and his wife, who works at the Creation Museum, an institution dedicated to promoting a Biblically literal account of the earth’s origins, raised their family in a Columbus suburb and moved south across the Ohio River about a year ago, to be closer to their grandchildren. Their new Kentucky home has a large expanse of freshly mowed grass out back that Seely’s brother-in-law at first mistook for a golf course. “Those towers over there, that’s actually Ohio,” Seely said, stepping onto his back porch and pointing at the nearest tall buildings. “Ohio has a problem: money is leaving, educated people are leaving. ’Cause we have a lot of good universities in Ohio, but there’s no jobs there, so you educate your kids and then you send them off.”

    Jstults – I read the article and have read some of the articles in the NYT concerning the movement and I too would be tempted if I thought that anything would really change.  The teabaggers will be used like George Bush used the evangelicals to get to the high office and drive the US into the ground.  I hate the bail outs, but it is interesting that the Midwest misery has everything to do with rising oil prices and the continued path toward business as usual. Airlines and Autos are no more, but Teabaggers will have to blame someone.  Again Let’s Pick God’s Son – Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

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  8. jstults January 31, 2010 / 6:29 pm
    …if they win God Help Us All

    The only way they win is when they successfully distance themselves from the birther/truther/racist far-right wackos and concentrate on fiscal responsibility.  Big surprise, during a recession, fiscal responsibility resonates with people who are finding new ways to be thrifty with their own family’s budget.  Rugged Individualism sells better than Federal Paternalism in these States (unless you are FDR).

    The teabaggers will be used…will have to blame someone.  Again Let’s Pick God’s Son…

    You’re gonna have to serve somebody.

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  9. John Ise February 1, 2010 / 2:49 pm
    The best summary of Obama’s state of the union I heard observed, “Obama’s message to Democrats, ‘grow some balls.’  His message to Republicans, ‘stop being such dicks’.”

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  10. jstults February 1, 2010 / 3:11 pm
    Noonan’s analysis is generally worth a read too (she was a speech-writer) even if you disagree with her politics.  Her’s is not as succinct as John’s though…

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  11. John Ise February 3, 2010 / 9:17 am
    From Andrew Sullivan’s Blog:

    What Today’s Republicans Believe

    Bruce Bartlett posts this Kos/Research 2000 poll of self-identified Republicans and concludes “that between 20% and 50% of the party is either insane or mind-numbingly stupid.” I always respect Bruce’s view but think rather that this is a function of the GOP becoming more about identity politics and paranoia than individual freedom and hope. Any party that could treat Sarah Palin as a serious candidate for the vice-presidency has lost its mind – almost as surely as she has lost what remains of hers.
    Of course, I notice the question of openly gay men and women as high school teachers. I notice this because I bet every single one of the respondents who said yes to banning such teachers revere Ronald Reagan, And yet Reagan took a strong stand against exactly that position in 1978 as governor of California. Yes, 1978 – decades before the enormous shift in public attitudes toward homosexuality that has made a new and more tolerant world today.
    What you begin to realize is that on a whole host of issues, the GOP is going backward in areas of social tolerance, as they marinate in their own paranoia and purge every non-ideologue from their ranks. And as they go backward and feel, yes, left behind, their virulence and resentment intensify. It’s a classic fundamentalist response to modernity.
    It has a parallel in the way in which non-violent Islamists have doubled down on medievalism as they feel an overwhelming sense of their own failure to succeed in modernity. There is a profound insecurity and dysfunction in these subcultures which cannot make the transition to modern life and thereby surrender more totally to the ancient past and to hatred of those who succeed. The hatred of Obama – a clearly decent and obviously Christian man – is not about him. It’s about them. It’s about their resentment of a man who has integrated his own identity and made a place for himself in a pluralist world. They cannot do that – so, like Palin, they invent a world of ancient virtues and moral absolutes that they routinely fail to live up to in reality. I mean: look at Palin’s family and Obama’s. Whose is the more traditional? And yet Palin is allegedly the avatar of family values – and Obama is a commie subversive.
    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

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  12. John Ise February 3, 2010 / 9:18 am
    Note on previous post that the chart detailing the poll doesn’t translate.  Hit the link to get the gist of A. Sullivan’s message. 

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  13. Jeff of Louisville February 3, 2010 / 6:40 pm
    This ongoing and deepening opposition to anything to do with gay rights is one reason I can’t offer any support to the GOP or GOP politicians like Turner.   This would apply to the libertarians, too (though, ironically enough, Andrew Sullivan started out as a sort of libertarian).

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  14. jstults February 22, 2010 / 10:16 pm
    I said earlier:

    I think the President would have signed a bill that got to his desk whether any R’s or I’s voted for it or not.

    From my favorite rag:

    A mere three days before President Obama’s supposedly bipartisan health-care summit, the White House yesterday released a new blueprint that Democrats say they will ram through Congress with or without Republican support. So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don’t want anyway.
    Ah, the glory of “progressive” governance and democratic consent.
    “The President’s Proposal,” as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone.
    ObamaCare at Ramming Speed
    The White House shows it has no interest in compromise
    .

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  15. David Lauri February 23, 2010 / 9:58 am
    The Kos/Research 2000 poll John Isle points out is interesting but not the only word.  Some (when I have more time to re-Google a blog post that said this) have said the poll is skewed because of the order of its questions, arguing that moderate Republicans self selected out of the poll sample by hanging up when faced with opening questions such as “Should Barack Obama be impeached” and “Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States,” thus never getting to the question about openly gay teachers.
     
    For another perspective there’s the poll asking Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendees their top two issues, and “Stopping gay marriage” got only 1% of votes. Dan Savage, commenting on this news, says, “That splat you just heard was Maggie Gallagher [president of the National Organization for Marriage] crapping her pants.” She’s never gonna be able to defend the sanctity of marriage against the queers if she can’t get the next generation of Republicans, the CPACers, to consider it important.

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  16. jstults February 23, 2010 / 10:15 am
    David Lauri:

    (when I have more time to re-Google a blog post that said this) … the poll is skewed because of the order of its questions…

    They don’t randomize the order?  Randomizing the treatments is sort of a standard experimental design kind of thing.  Maybe it’s different in surveys, but that seems odd; if you find that link please post it.

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  17. David Lauri February 23, 2010 / 11:57 am
    jstults, I found the article I’d read critiquing the question order of the Kos/Research 2000 poll.  It’s “Republicans are Conservative — but are they this Conservative?“, by Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, who says, “it’s hard for me to believe that the questions the poll asked did not some how condition the responses to the latter questions, or induce some of the more moderate Republicans to drop out of the sample.” Silver links to another blog post critiquing the poll.

    Also, I found an interesting article from Del Ali of Research 2000, who, in a post on Daily Kos entitled “How a poll is conducted,” says, “To provide full transparency, we publish the exact questions we ask, in the order asked.”  That seems to indicate that in the poll Research 2000 did for Daily Kos the questions were in fact asked in the order published with the bizarro world impeachment and Obama citizenship questions first.

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  18. Jesse February 23, 2010 / 12:13 pm
    Anyone else think that political labels actually hurt discussion at this point?  Wouldn’t it be great if a list of 20 questions (100 would be better) were posted along side each candidate, with their responses to each so we would know what they actually thought about things.
     
    The idea that “Libertarians” are against homosexuality for instance.  Really?  Most “Libertarians” that I know are against government involvement in marriage between a man and a woman or a man and a man.  It is just so confusing because of the labels.  It also seems to create an “us vs them” mentality.  Those evil democrats, or those greedy republicans, or those nut job tea-party people, etc.
     
    It is also funny that when a group of people stop something they do not want to happen then they are “obstructionists” (connotatively bad) keeping the will of the masses (connotatively good) from being executed.  Invading Iraq was a bad idea.  At the time 63% of the US citizens wanted it (more than the current health care reform http://abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/Politics/health-care-reform-abc-news-poll-analysis/story?id=9593912) “Obstructionists” stood in the way.  Including a few Republicans (notably Ron Paul) but mostly Democrats.  When they did this, it was seen as terrible by Fox News.  It was seen as heroic by MSNBC.  Protests against the war and the administration were perfectly “American” on MSNBC and they were the stuff of Communism on Fox News.  Now the situation is exactly reversed.  “Obstructionists” are standing in the way of necessary health care reforms (like necessary invasions).  Fox says they are brilliant Patriots.  This site and MSNBC says they are “Obstructionists.”  I wish the “Obstructionists” always won.  The less stuff the government can actually achieve the better.
     
    “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents “interests, ” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.” [Barry Goldwater]

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