Obama in the Lion's Den
The President made an appearance at the House Republican Retreat in Baltimore today, and it was quite a show, particularly as he answered pointed questions from several conservative luminaries like House Study Committee chairman Mike Pence, House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan, and House GOP leadership member Marsha Blackburn.
Much of the exchange involved Obama's argument that he's frequently incorporated Republican ideas in the policy proposals that congressional Republicans have uniformly rejected, and House GOP complaints that the president doesn't take seriously their larger proposals on health care or the economy. On several occasions, Obama gently reminded the audience that he can only take policies seriously if actual experts do, and if they are even theoretically workable. But this didn't keep House GOPers from brandishing copies of their "plans" as though heft guaranteed substance.
Since Obama and House Republicans are operating from different perceptions of basic reality, and different "facts," along with different points of view, there was never any likelihood that today's gabfest would create some new bipartisan breakthrough, even on minor issues. But perhaps it will inhibit Republican elected officials a bit from indulging their base voters and activists in some of their more lurid expressions of hatred and calumny towards the president. And in the meantime, it offered Democrats some nice video clips of Obama more or less running circles around his would-be tormenters with relative ease.