The president held a town hall at the University of Maryland this morning, and it’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination to think it was some sort of a coincidence that it kicked off scant moments after the Senate voted down CC&B. In fact, he led off with that topic in a big way, repeating his ongoing bully pulpit theme about how he’s been offering everything but the kitchen sink, how he is offering up programs which are important to his base, but those pesky Republicans in the House just won’t listen to reason.
The crowd was pretty obviously hand picked. One young man who asked a question about the debt ceiling debate suggested he should just raise the ceiling himself and wait for the 2012 elections to have voters “get rid of these hooligans in the House.” (It was fairly obvious that he wasn’t referring to the Democrats.) A young lady asking the next question nearly broke into tears when she asked if she could shake Obama’s hand. Tough room.
On an interesting side note, in response to the question about raising the ceiling himself, Obama indicated that his lawyers had advised him that he doesn’t have the power under the Constitution to do so.
The president did get one of the old standards tossed his way, asking if he had any regrets or would have done anything differently thus far in his term, and it produced a few interesting comments. Like most politicians, he started off not by saying what he’d done wrong, but what he had done right. In terms of building an economic recovery, he said, “We’ve made good choices so far.”
Moving on to the “what could I have done differently” portion of the agenda, Obama delivered a bit of a stunner. After inserting the mandatory “blame Bush” preface about four million jobs being lost before he was even sworn in, he said, “I could have been clearer about how tough it was going to be. I was so focused on policy, on getting the policy right, I forgot that part of my job was explaining to the American people what I was doing.”
Seriously? I seem to recall a pretty long stretch of time when the man’s image was getting permanently burned into my television screen. He was on TV constantly doing nothing but explaining what he thought he was doing.
All in all there were very few surprises and it was a fairly standard political dog and pony show. But one theme remains. Obama wasn’t kidding when he told Eric Cantor that he was going to “take this to the American people.” I don’t know if this is all part of Plan Nine from DNC or not, but the president clearly plans to continue banging the drum and trying to get the voters to blame the GOP for the ongoing debt ceiling issue.