The political blogosphere was abuzz yesterday after President Barack Obama addressed the House Republican Caucus meeting in Baltimore. The hour and half session also featured a segment where the president took questions from the audience. It was broadcast live on C-SPAN, but the video is so popular, it has overwhelmed C-SPAN servers. Shorn of the usual pre-speech analysis and running commentary by the news media, the event brought to mind an idea of what the Lincoln-Douglas debates must have been like.
For those of you whose heartbeat raced a year ago at the thought of having a cerebral president, but may have begun to abandon the idea that an intellect of the highest order could make any headway in the stagnant culture of Washington -- you need to click this link and see for yourself why a smart president matters even more than you could have imagined.
According to the New York Times, the session in Baltimore on Friday "resembled the British custom where a prime minister responds to questions in Parliament."
Was it biased? Of course it was. Both Democrats and Republicans have their own talking points, their own strategies of engagement, their own buzzwords that they use to create positive images of themselves and negative images of their opponents. Even citizens who are only casually aware of political events know this. But when you add the media filter to the mix, you get an even more distorted view of what’s going on.
Which is why I enjoyed the exchange between the president and the GOP so much. I rarely watch “sound bite” news. “Getting the reaction" is probably the single worst device the media uses in an attempt to show the other side of an issue, or depict public sentiment. But since it is the language the media speaks when they cover politicians, we’ve become used to the idea that they somehow add context to an event or announcement.
I didn’t miss the TV punditocracy at all yesterday -- not one bit. Don’t take my word for it, though. See for yourself: