President Obama has labored to unite different political factions with policy compromises and conciliatory speeches. But it was Obama's incisive grappling at the Republican retreat last week that really lit a bipartisan fire, drawing politicos and commentators of all stripes to call for more questions sessions for the President and the opposition party.
In "Left-Right Want 'Obama' Question Time," Politico's Mike Allen reports on what may be the first effort uniting conservative tax warrior Grover Norquist and our own Katrina venden Heuvel:
A politically diverse group of bloggers, commentators, techies and politicos on Wednesday will launch an online campaign, Demand Question Time, urging President Barack Obama and GOP congressional leaders to hold regular, televised conversations like the extraordinary exchange in Baltimore on Friday. Supporters include Grover Norquist, Joe Trippi, Mark McKinnon, Ed Morrissey, Ari Melber, Katrina vanden Heuvel ... Eli Pariser ... Mark McKinnon, Markos Moulitsas and Ed Morrissey. The steering committee is made up of Micah Sifry, David Corn, Mike Moffo, Mindy Finn, Jon Henke and Glenn Reynolds.
Demand Question Time invites visitors to sign a petition: "We live in a world that increasingly demands more dialogue than monologue. President Obama's January 29th question-and-answer session with Republican leaders gave the public a remarkable window into the state of our union and governing process. It was riveting and educational. The exchanges were substantive, civil and candid. And in a rare break from our modern politics, sharp differences between elected leaders were on full public display without rancor or ridicule. ... "So we call on President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner to hold these sessions regularly - and allow them to be broadcast and webcast live and without commercial interruption, sponsorship or intermediaries."
On Wednesday, the effort was the top headline at Huffington Post, linking to an article detailing the effort by co-founder David Corn, a Mother Jones writer and former Washington editor of The Nation.
But White House adviser David Axelrod already gave the concept a light brushback earlier this week, Allen reports:
POLITICO asked White House senior adviser David Axelrod about the possibility of regular question time on Monday, before the online campaign was announced, and he said the president's aides were more likely to look for one-shot opportunities for Obama to engage with Republicans. "The thing that made Friday interesting . was the spontaneity," Axelrod said. "If you slip into a kind of convention, then conventionality will overtake the freshness of that."