Last week, President Obama took part in a novel and fascinating Q&A session with the House Republicans, and, after being lauded for it in the media, he did the same this morning with the Senate Democrats. It’s really a no-lose strategy for Obama. He looks great for listening to the opposition, for opening himself up to direct criticism, and for standing up for his record and agenda. At the same time, as Seth Meyers put it well on “Weekend Update,” taking on Obama in a debate setting is like attacking Aquaman in the water. So there’s a good chance that Obama may embrace the petition, which debuted this morning, calling on him and Congressional leaders to hold these Q&A sessions all the time.
Notable academics, media types, and political operatives from across the ideological spectrum have signed on. From the left, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, and the petition’s author, Mother Jones’ David Corn. From the right, anti-tax obsessive Grover Norquist, Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey, and former George W. Bush and John McCain adviser Mark McKinnon. And a lot of other important people with influence, like the founders of Wikipedia and Craigslist. Because, really, who could be against this? Not that we expect it to usher in greater bi-partisanship in Washington, or to really solve any problems at all — but it couldn’t hurt, either. Our hope is that “Question Time” gradually becomes more and more like the British equivalent in Parliament, replete with personal attacks, constant heckling, and enormous binders. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s awesome.