By Jim Kuczkowski–Gitmos featured writer
A lot is being made of Obama’s Q&A session last Friday with House Republican leaders at their retreat in Baltimore. The Huffington Post said Obama entered the GOP lion’s den and mauled the lions. Mainstream political commentators salivated over it wanting more, more, more!
Indeed, it was good political theater–if theater is what you want from politics. Obama swatted his adversaries like flies. He chastised Republicans for lying and misleading the American people on matters like the budget woes he inherited from the Bush administration. He rightly called many of their suggestions on healthcare, like tort reform, political boilerplate that doesn’t do enough to address the real problems. When he scolded Republicans for boxing themselves in with over-the-top rhetoric fed to their base he couldn’t have been more correct. Yes, Obama is right to condemn the slash-and-burn politics of this time.
However, illustrating the petty and ridiculous nature of the Republicans does not make Obama some sort of political gladiator because mainstream Republicans are just stupid and petty. They will do anything and say anything to rouse their base and get re-elected. By and large, the Republican party is a floundering imbecile still pretending it didn’t have any part in the destruction of the economy and America’s standing in the world by way of rejecting the very principles it historically espoused. They ignore that before Nixon, there’s was a party that questioned military intervention abroad and held budgets tightly in check. They pose no real opposition to Obama just as Democrats posed no real opposition to Bush. The two parties are so in step with each other it is like they are the two legs of the same man. Right now the Republicans are just the game leg being drug along. They slow the man’s movement while still heading in the same direction.
It would be much more interesting and valuable to see Obama do a Q&A session of this sort with Progressives, Libertarians, or Independents who have seen through this charade. Could Obama beat Kucinich down on healthcare issues without resorting to the slash-and-burn himself? Could he so easily shrug off warnings of fiscal irresponsibility and condemnation of propping up the big banks if his adversary was someone like Ron Paul? What would he do if someone like Ellen Brown grilled him on why the government still lets a private cabal of bankers create the nation’s currency and credit out of debt? And that’s just scraping the domestic issues of our day. Admittedly, it would be hard to ask probing questions about his foreign policy without yelling, “Why are you doing the same damn things Bush would do”?!!!
Our political system is broken. This is what the meeting in Baltimore showed. But it is not just the breakdown between Republicans and Democrats. The problem is the best ideas of our brightest people are given the smallest voices. They cannot be heard above the din and distraction of ad hominem attacks between the conjoined twins that loudly proclaim themselves the only choices available in political discourse. We deserve better. And if these small voices do not receive amplification we will all be made deaf by the loud and stupid.