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Friday, January 29, 2010

In The News:
Obama Speaks at Republican Retreat

Earlier today President Obama broke new ground in American politics by joining the House Republicans at their annual retreat for a town hall-type discussion on bipartisanship.  For those, like me, who have often wondered whether a bipartisan Washington could ever really exist, this experiment visit, both adventurous and unorthodox in political nature, was a delight to witness.  The truth, even in our capitol, lies somewhere in between two extremes and today's therapy session town hall gave a unique glimpse at what political truth could potentially look like.

Once introduced, President Obama received a polite if not obligatory round of applause.  He then delivered a (brief) 21-minute statement, which he read from behind a podium, that detailed his first person account of the partisan blockages he faced during his first year as President.  Obama took the time to specify examples of centrist-right polices that, on GOP general principle, have been defeated, seemingly as an act of defiance against him.  At times he painted himself as a martyr:

"These are serious tines and what is required by all of us, Democrats and Republicans, is to do what's right for our country; even if it's not always best for our politics. I know it may be heresy to say this, but there are things more important than good poll numbers. (Chuckles) And on this no one can accuse me of not living by my principles."

Other times, he self-righteously (and rightfully) reminded the room that their task is to work in the interest of the American public:

"A middle class that is back on it's feet, and economy that lifts everybody up, an America that's ascendant in the world - that's more important than winning an election.  Our future shouldn't be shaped by what's best for our politics, our politics should be shaped by what's best for our future."
During the speech, Obama looked genuinely appreciative for the opportunity and cautiously hopeful that someone small population of the room would be open to his (slightly utopian) hope for bipartisan action.  That demeanor, however, was quickly replaced by frustration during a tug of war Question & Answer session.

See what could be the baby step beginnings of Washington bipartisanship below.



Sources: NPR, C-SPAN, C-SPAN on Youtube
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