I should tell you that I personally don’t like partisanship in our political dialogue, but I prefer Democratic capitulation even less. And that is the issue I have with this column by E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, in which he makes the partly reasonable suggestion that President Obama should more or less expand the Q&A session he held with Republican members of Congress last Friday (in which Obama basically cleaned their proverbial clocks, swatting away their idiotic talking points as if they were mosquitoes, as noted in this clip).
I say “partly reasonable” because dialogue is a good thing. However, if Obama were to conduct another one of these forums with the “loyal opposition,” I can tell you right now what would happen. The Repugs would find some way to rig it to allow every possible way to try and frustrate Obama by trying to talk over him and interrupt him at every opportunity, just so they could get a few moments of him getting impatient with these imbeciles. That way, they would have their precious “attack” footage they would rerun endlessly so they could say “See? We told you he was arrogant.”
This, though, is the bigger issue I have with Dionne’s column today…
The Q&A was a smash success, and we need many more. Let’s have Obama do the same kind of session with the Senate Republicans. Then, let’s have him debate potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, starting with Sarah Palin, and then, perhaps, Mitt Romney. I’m quite serious. Tens of millions of Americans would turn on to politics again.
I’m not sure if Dionne is aware of this or not, but according to this CBS poll, most of those polled (including 56 percent of Republicans) don’t want Sarah Palin to run for president. For that reason, a decision by Obama to elevate her to the same level as the President of the United States on a debate stage would be an act of supreme idiocy. And such a move with Willard Mitt Romney would have a similar effect.
And it should be emphasized, as this article tells us, that debates are fraught with danger for incumbent presidents, even though we pretty much take them for granted now. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson decided not to debate Barry Goldwater and won decisively. Richard Nixon didn’t debate Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and eked out a win, and he made the same decision in 1972 against George McGovern and thumped the challenger. Jimmy Carter ended up debating challenger Ronald Reagan a week before the 1980 election, and though Carter was considered the debate winner, Reagan handled himself well enough and ended up projecting himself better than the 39th president, and he won the election.
Besides, if it takes Obama having to share the stage with the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, who would likely end up winking a time or two and deciding not to answer questions she didn’t like or giving totally non-responsive answers to the questions she preferred, to get “tens of millions of Americans” to “turn onto politics again,” then this country is in worse shape than I could have imagined.