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Obama Confronts Critics (and Vice Versa) at GOP Retreat

Posted on Jan 29, 2010
Obama at GOP retreat

Turns out that Barack Obama’s extemporaneous critique of the Supreme Court during his State of the Union speech Wednesday wasn’t the only such (apparently) unscripted moment he’d spend this week. On Friday, the president engaged in a frank exchange with Republican House members at a retreat in Baltimore, where he addressed some of the contentious issues of the last year, including health care reform. “You’d think this was some Bolshevik plot,” Obama told his audience in speaking of his health reform effort. “That’s how some of you guys presented this.”  —KA

Click here to watch the full Q&A session following Obama’s speech in Baltimore.

Los Angeles Times:

“What happens is that you guys don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me,” Obama said. “The fact of the matter is, many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable with your own base, with your own party, because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, ‘This guy’s doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.’ ”

The event was notable for its departure from the norms of the American political process, resembling more the British tradition of a leader taking fire from members of the opposition party—and for the fact that it was broadcast nationally.

Like the audience on a daytime talk show, the GOP members held microphones and questioned Obama. The president answered from behind a podium, his image displayed on large TV screens. The exchange went for 90 minutes—longer than scheduled.

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By Basoflakes, February 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

Obama bitch slapped the GOP at that speaking engagement, so don’t expect the GOP to ask him back again.  Even Fox news saw the slaughter of the right and turned it off before anyone else.

After seeing the dumbest questions and statements on earth by anyone, the Republican Party did itself no favors by asking Obama to talk to them.

What idiots would vote for Bachman, Price or any of those other nitwits?

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By samosamo, January 31, 2010 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

By gerard, January 31 at 2:06 pm

Just the way comments come off, I am 3rd or other party but
never a dem or repub again.

As the standard, republicans are the worse if for no other
reason than the creation of all those think tanks to come up
with the plans, schemes and agendas that they have used to
place this country in the shape it is in with them seemingly in

From the little I could get from this gop circle jerk, yes, o
sounded far above those 3 clowns, but I just cannot get with o
when he keeps holding on and furthering w & dick’s agendas
but he is president and we shall see what we shall see in 2012
just so long as the republicans don’t control congress and the
white house, as they have the scotus.

And o, according to a post on commondreams, has out spent w on nuclear weapons, and not withstanding that we have more than enough to ruin the whole world which would end us also for an example, being pure hysterical stupidity.

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By gerard, January 31, 2010 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

samo samo:  I don’t know where you got the idea that I’m stuck on repubican or democrat.  Far from it. I’d be ecstatic if we could found a viable third or fourth party based on real liberal, progressive policies and find candidates who would hold onto their integrity in spite of the rotten political process we now have.  Do I make myself clear?

PS—Admit it. Obama looked like a towering genius next to those deadhead ideologs.

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By Vic Anderson, January 31, 2010 at 6:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just more Obama lipstick on the Bush Hog!

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 31, 2010 at 5:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

TO RECONCILE DIFFERENCES” .... just kidding.

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By rollzone, January 30, 2010 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

hello. allow me to spin. Oboymamma needs to reconnect
with the people whom put him in office. not the
elitists he lives with; the commoners. the hope and
change disillusioned anti war, anti big government,
anti Beltway as usual crowd; hoping for immigration
reform, economic growth, and peace on Earth.
Oboymamma is willing to admit Republicans have not
just sat on the sidelines, but finds their proposals
lack functional reality. they only offer cartoons,
while he knows what is best. he is only reaching for
more power (away from his enemies) as he now feels
his own power slipping away. for an entire year he
ignored, and circumvented anyone not in his own
circle of trust, and now he sees: he is not as all
powerful as he thought he was. he is desperately
reaching out for an excuse to salvage support, as his
fellow rats and turkeys are abandoning ship- and
rightly so. his conduct continues to deepen a hole,
he is dragging fellow Democrats so deep into: they
will never again see daylight for their own
campaigns. an entire year of tax payer dollars he has
wasted on health care for a few people in our
country- while the majority watch more jobs lost,
more government spending, and real global threats
worsening, and no improvements in American education:
but a vacationing promiser in office -unable to do
anything. he needs more power to revenue ‘cap and
trade’ and all his new taxes, and this is just his
tactic for fooling his base again.

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By Maani, January 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

Obama is still spitting in the wind:  Here is a great blog comment on the situation, and my response to it:

From Me:

The only question here is: why are we surprised? Did anyone really think that ANYTHING Obama said was going to change the G.O.P. leadership? And after a whole year, is Obama naive, foolish or just hopelessly optimistic to believe that “bipartisanship” will EVER occur in DC – particularly during his presidency?

The G.O.P. has made its choice: they have accepted being “the party of ‘no’,” and they will remain in (obstructionist) lockstep on all major issues.

The only possible silver lining here is if in doing so, they end up shooting themselves in the foot. Rachel Maddow made an astute observation in this regard: that by being against the Wall Street “tax” (in order to get back the remaining unpaid taxpayer money provided in the bailouts), against the Consumer Protection Agency (which would help consumers re the obnoxious practices of the credit card companies et al), and in favor of the SCOTUS ruling on campaign finance (which works against the average citizen), the G.O.P. has positioned itself as pro-Wall Street, pro-credit card companies, and pro-foreign and domestic influence in elections – at a time when even the “tea party” set is unlikely to support such a platform.

It will be interesting to see how the G.O.P. spins these positions as the midterms approach.


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By screamingpalm, January 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

By gerard, January 30 at 5:26 pm #

To answer your question, and previous questions you’ve raised, one simply needs to read the comments provided here on truthdig and it should become quite obvious. One cannot organize when others whom may otherwise agree with me on issues, refuse to see that supporting the two-party system equates to shooting themselves in the foot. I have yet to hear from anyone why Obama’s tongue-lashing of the GOP for not accepting his conservative policies are such a good thing. I am not impressed by his tough talk, or winning some pointless battle with Republicans over who can better serve the status quo. Democrats bragging about this like it’s some victory just illustrates what is wrong with the left. Unless those bragging are conservative Dems or corporocrats, of course.

As for your last question, well I prefer to avoid labels whenever possible. Besides ‘progressive’ is such a generic term and can mean so many different things to many people. David Sirota even wrote an article about the many factions of progressives, showing again just how splintered the left is.

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By Allan Krueger, January 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

I hope GWB was watching!

Wonder why George W never did this with the Democrats when he had the advantage in the Senate and House?


Fuck, the man could barely do his canned, excuses for press conferences!

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By Allan Krueger, January 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

Hopefully, President Obama will do more of this!

This is exactly what will combat the Death Panels and other political rhetoric (bullshit) from both sides.

The Republicans probably believe they have destroyed Obama’s presidency and are licking their chops.

I thought he was doing his version of wind surfing, while they were trashing him. I have begun to think that he was allowing them to dig a big hole. Time will tell. It would be a big mistake for them to underestimate him and his ability to connect with the (reasonable) citizens of the country.

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By samosamo, January 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

By gerard, January 30 at 5:26 pm

Why do you and some others vehemently insist that there can
be nothing other than the republican (conservative, ultra-
conservative) or democrat ( liberal, progressive) where that
could very well be the reason the people get no other choices,
like ‘independent’, to choose from when the msm lays out the
final ‘playlist’?

You needn’t answer because I am aware of the unlikely hood
of any thing other than republican or democrat having a ghost
of a chance of winning in 100 years, the aristocratic oligarchy
just won’t have it for their 1000 year reich.

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By gerard, January 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

For some people on this site, a consistentlly self-defeating cynicism seems to be de rigeur.  One might ask in what way is that helpful unless alternatives are suggested?  But if the purpose is not to be helpful ....? 

If that’s the case, why not drop the pretense of being “liberal” or “progressive”?  Liberals and progressives tend to be smart people, inventive, creative, persistent—and not easily discouraged.

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By Dan, January 30, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pathetic! Still trying to find common ground with the Republicans. Obama, take a hint-they want you and the dems totally vanquished in the midterms. They intend to give you nothing. You have working majorities in both houses so stop smiling so much and do something! As it stands you will have absolutely nothing to run on in 2010 or 2012. HEY, I have an idea—fight for the people who put you in office.

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By screamingpalm, January 30, 2010 at 2:12 am Link to this comment

Some relevent funny bits to share:

Blues Clueless, featuring the new mascot- the DNC possum!

...and Speech Therapy. The SOTU address, or rather “prebuttal” as Jon Stewart calls it, where President Obama said: “When I ran for President, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular”. “Mission Accomplished”!

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By SemiFrost, January 30, 2010 at 1:32 am Link to this comment

(not that it much matters)
On earlier post was NOT DeMint who was on receiving end of “ know that’s not true.” It WAS Jeb Hensarling, Texas’ 5th.

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By SemiFrost, January 29, 2010 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

mrfreeze -

Indeed.  I gotta scram out of here, but below is (I hope relevant to string) a partial expert from (yeah) a blog entry.  Written after SOU, before he finally did get in their face in Baltimore, you will see I concur with you and it ain’t a pretty picture -


What, Me Worry—

State of the Union 2010: OB’s super-cool style is beginning to grate.  It is no longer reassuring; this coolness - the yucking it up with an adversary that has torn through the fabric of the nation, and is out to torch the last thread of democracy to finish the job.

How much anti-citizen obstruction; how much pillaging of tax dollars and China-borrowed debt; how much lying blather; how much corporatist corruption; how much insurance industry-inflicted family decimation and death?

Or, OB, how about how many more vicious fraudulent personal attacks will it take before you turn to these scumbags, tell it to their faces, and tell it to the US public?

Instead, more Mr. Nice Guy - What, me worry?

The average [comment redacted] don’t get the governmental process, the recent history or the subtleties of Federal-level statesmanship. Cripes, man, FOX News is the highest rated cable news network in the nation.  Take a page.

Call out the right ring congressional prostitutes directly, forcefully, and explain in no uncertain terms that because of them we’re going down the tubes. Get them on the defensive and keep them there.

Yet, we get more come-on-guys smiles, more gentle jabs, more public face attempts at reasoning with them.  And first thing in the morning they will be back to savaging him and blocking any hope for progress ...

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By screamingpalm, January 29, 2010 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment

After he endures DeMint’s absurd and laborious question (talking points), he lambastes him: “...and YOU KNOW that’s not true.”

Refresh my memory… was that when he was likening his health care plan to that of Bob Dole’s? or when he was enthusiastically lobbying for the WTO to opening trade with South Korea? The one-third of the stimulus that went to tax breaks as the GOP had asked for?

Yes… he bullied the GOP around, but it wasn’t a fight I wanted him to win- scolding them about not accepting him as one of their own. Really, I must have missed it, but where’s the good news? What was there in that address to get excited about? Sure he can talk tough about the SC ruling since he can’t do a damn thing about it.

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By mrfreeze, January 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment

Semifrost - The problem is there are so many dim-witted Americans that are listening (and believing) the Republican half-wits. As I mentioned below, it seems that Obama is criticized for being eloquent and intelligent when, we all seem to forget that GWB was intellectually and verbally impaired. Why was not the same level of criticism placed on him for being, well, a moron?

Basically, Americans are comfortable believing the fantasy world of Republicans: no taxes, no government, free markets, no illegal immigrants, world military domination, an all “English speaking world” (after all if English was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me!!!), gated communities, hummers in every garage, higher education for the rich and Christian values tattooed on every child’s ass. God Bless America!

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By SemiFrost, January 29, 2010 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

Float like a Butterfly, Sting like an OB—

Notable, beyond the many body blows landed on the slow moving opponent in this lopsided match-up, during their regurgitations the seemingly punch drunk losers seemed to actually believe the blatantly nonsensical BS they typically spew.  I always assumed they knew they were lying – since there are things like record keeping, reports, video, actual events, history, sequential space-time continuums, stuff like that.

Naturally, when they presented to his face the total crap they typically sling unfettered during their FOX News spots, they were demolished.

Could be they thought that with the cameras rolling, they were going to get away with tossing slimeballs, whiff ‘em by him, impress the folks back home.

At one point, OB seems to confirm this theory.  After he endures DeMint’s absurd and laborious question (talking points), he lambastes him: “...and YOU KNOW that’s not true.”

Perhaps thinking they were going to rope-a-dope gang style, instead the lightweights were galacticly outclassed.

He really cuts loose near the end.  A real beat down.  Let’s hope he finally gets revved up and turns it around for good.  And it better happen fast ... like yesterday.

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By mrfreeze, January 29, 2010 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

On Friday’s our local NPR affiliate has a “journalist weekly round-up of the news” which is usually a good program; however, today I blew a gasket and called the show to challenge the reporters to explain why President Obama was being uber-analysed and criticized even BEFORE he took office and the Media outlets (especially Truthdig, NPR, etc.) spend every waking moment finding fault with the President. This criticism and 24/7 hyper-reporting never stops.

One of the reporters was, again, using the idea that “FDR was able to focus a whole nation around….blah, blah, blah,” to which I answered, FDR’s message wouldn’t last two nano-seconds in today’s media circus. The fact is, President Obama is rarely “unfiltered” by what is obviously a less-than-professional Media. It is clear that the 40,000 professional journalists who left the business in the last couple of years are badly needed, because today we have been left with a corporate media machine that has little regard for the “truth” (truthdig my ass) and is more concerned with making up the news.

It is when Obama speaks directly, unfiltered to his opponents that one sees exactly why his enemies fear him. Today, he chewed-up his half-wit Republican detractors and spit them out. I relish the day he does the same to his chicken-shit Democratic “colleagues.”

What I find so stunning is the snarky, sophomoric criticisms of President Obama’s oratory skills by those who seemed completely comfortable listening to GWB, whose idiotic ramblings and mis-communications led us into some terrible disasters. 

The irony is that President Obama is actually trying to get things done, things that have been neglected for decades: health care, infrastructure, education, international stability. It seems that his critics would rather blame him for the creation of these issues rather than admit that he has courageously jumped into the middle of these Herculean problems to try and find solutions.

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By Virginia777, January 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

gosh, don’t see many comments here

is it much more “fun” to attack Obama than to possibly admit he did a great job?

Wake Up Truthdig!!

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By Virginia777, January 29, 2010 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment

Obama ROCKED today!!

Hah, Truthdig!

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By samosamo, January 29, 2010 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know, it seems that this was just a ‘bitch session’ to
appear to air out the differences but for me, only a
subsequent ‘session’ that actually had real substance with o
flat out telling those republicans to get on board and fix and
regulate, then I could believe maybe the whole thing not so
farcical and even a step in a positive direction.

But I still remember o’s pledging his and the U.S.‘s support of
corporate america AND the american izraeli pac then I still have
to take the whole thing with a whole lot of salt.

Here is a sample from msm’s msnbc on this ‘bitch session’
which seems to note a lot of posturing and little substance:

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By gerard, January 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

Well, it’s a relief to see Obama taking leadership responsibility and speaking out to his opposition. The formation of the citizen’s committee he is starting is also a step forward, but he and his staff need to make it more than a site online for donations.  People need the experience of uniting to work in their local communities for issues that are meanngful to them.  The apathy and fear that surrounds citizen organizing at present is a terrible drag on democracy.

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