Smart politics, but I weep for the loss of the video content that might have been.
Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton relayed the news during Wednesday’s briefing, calling the idea of standardizing “question time” good in concept but impractical in practice.
“David Axelrod has talked about this a little,” Burton said. “And what he had to say is: part of the reason Friday was so successful with the GOP conference was the spontaneity that occurred there. And it is going to be hard to recreate the spontaneity that happened.”
Burton added that the president “thinks that there is space for more open dialogue, and he is going to look for more opportunities to do things on camera and have open discussions on important issues.” But it was clear that the administration is not willing to incorporate a British-parliament-style Q&A session into American governance.
What incentive does The One have to do this again? If he wants airtime, he can get it in a thousand ways that don’t involve sharing the spotlight with otherwise invisible Republicans like Paul Ryan. Plus, the GOP wouldn’t let him get away next time with what he got away with last week, where the optics practically guaranteed that Obama would come out looking like the winner. No more O alone onstage while Republicans bark questions off-camera in the audience, sometimes so inaudibly that it sounded like Obama was giving a monologue. The only conceivable reason to revive this from the White House’s standpoint is if they finally decide that the “party of no” thing isn’t really hurting the GOP — which it isn’t — and that a stronger line of attack would be to push Republican proposals in front of the public and have Obama dissect them as unworkable. That might convince a few indies that the GOP isn’t ready for primetime yet, which could mean the difference between keeping and losing the House. But given the certainty that Republican questioners would be better prepared going forward, if you were The One, would you risk it?
Exit question: Why would it be hard to “recreate the spontaneity” of a session where Republicans lob questions at a Democratic president?