Very little room to work

Obama’s conference at the House Republican Retreat today.


A few excerpts:

“Although that’s one of the points that I made earlier. I mean, we’ve got to be careful about what we say about each other sometimes, because it boxes us in in ways that makes it difficult for us to work together, because our constituents start believing us. They don’t know sometimes this is just politics what you guys — or folks on my side do sometimes.

“So just a tone of civility instead of slash and burn would be helpful. The problem we have sometimes is a media that responds only to slash-and-burn-style politics. …

“… I’ve just got to take this last question as an example of how it’s very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we’re going to do, because the whole question was structured as a talking point for running a campaign.

“That’s why I say if we’re going to frame these debates in ways that allow us to solve them, then we can’t start off by figuring out, A, who’s to blame; B, how can we make the American people afraid of the other side. And unfortunately, that’s how our politics works right now. …

“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.”

His speech and comments reminded me of Stephen Colbert’s interview with Tom Brokaw a few weeks ago in which Brokaw said, “We can’t get through these profound challenges…if everything becomes a food fight.”

Good luck to Obama in convincing Congress to govern instead of spending their time in office planning their next campaign. It will probably only happen if their constituents demand it, and that is unlikely when so many of those constituents are forming their opinions based on polarized and polarizing media.

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