Demand Question Time

A group of bloggers from the Left and the Right have launched a new effort to demand more substantive engagement in Washington.  After last week’s meeting between Barack Obama and the House Republican Caucus wound up benefiting everyone, we have begun a petition drive to demand a regular Question Time to have the President available to engage in meaningful discourse with his opposition in Congress:

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 and David Corn.

Original endorsers include Grover Norquist and Eli Pariser, Joe Trippi and Mark McKinnon, Markos Moulitsas and Ed Morrissey, and many more, including Ari Melber, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Ana Marie Cox and Nate Silver. 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. We also urge the President and the Republican Senate caucus to follow suit. And we ask the President and the House and Senate caucuses of his own party to consider mounting similar direct question-and-answer sessions. We will ask future Presidents and Congresses to do the same. It is time to make Question Time a regular feature of our democracy.”

Last week’s event was an all-around win.  Obama got a chance to look presidential and to get away from scripted responses.  His presence there forced the media to cover the substantial policy proposals from the GOP caucus, coverage that had been all but nonexistent before now.  It coincided with Rep. Paul Ryan’s attempt to reintroduce the Republican plan for health-care reform, a bill that the media ignored throughout 2009 while helping Democrats call the GOP the Party of No.

Obama promised to put ObamaCare negotiations on C-SPAN.  Regular appearances such as this would go a long way toward providing the transparency he promised but failed to deliver in his first year.

If you agree, please sign the Demand Question Time petition here.

Update: The petition site is already overwhelmed; you may want to try a little later today, when they can get the site functioning.

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