In a new gloves-off approach to leadership, Obama has now led two "extraordinary" and "riveting" no-nonsense question periods with both House Republicans and Senate Democrats. Only problem: America wants more, but Obama is demurring. "Demand Question Time," a new petition drive launched by a bipartisan group of bloggers and political observers has already garnered 8,197 signatures. Would question time recharge our grid-locked, stagnant American democracy? (Watch Obama's Question Time with House Republicans)
Absolutely. It would make government more transparent: Frank talks between the president and lawmakers are "an all-around win," says Ed Morrissey, who signed the Demand Question Time petition, in Hot Air. Obama gets "a chance to look presidential and to get away from scripted responses," and the media is forced "to cover the substantial policy proposals from the GOP caucus" that otherwise get overlooked.
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No. It's just a new forum for political posturing: Question time in the U.S. sounds like a good idea, says blogger Balk in The Awl, but it wouldn't do much good in practice. In parliamentary democracies that have these sessions, "members of the governing parties ask self-serving softballs" while the opposition "tosses up as many cheap shots as it can in hopes that something will stick."
It's no magic solution, but it's worth trying: "None of us are naive and believe that implementing Question Time will cure what ails our country and our political process," says David Corn, who signed the petition, in Politics Daily. But the exchange between Obama and Republicans was "substantive and civil." That's the kind of change we need in Washington.
You can't standardize spontaneous debate: "The thing that made [last Friday's session with Republicans] interesting was the spontaneity," says White House senior adviser David Axelrod, as quoted in Politico. "If you slip into a kind of convention, then conventionality will overtake the freshness of that." The president's aides, he says, are more likely to seek out one-shot opportunities for the President to engage with party members.
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