Obama holds town hall for an unscreened audience.

Former President Bush often remarked that he didn’t pay attention to public opinion polls, didn’t read newspapers, and his administration always made sure to screen the audiences of any public speaking events he undertook to try and ensure that only his supporters would be allowed in. Not only could you be denied entry to a speaking event for wearing the wrong kind of t-shirt or for having the wrong bumper sticker on your car, but even Bush supporters were sometimes kicked out. Woe to any actual protesters who managed to sneak in, though, as they were arrested for daring to criticize the President in public.

What a refreshing change a new President can make. Not only is Obama making the rounds doing Town Hall style events, but the audiences aren’t being screened to weed out dissenters:

Today, President Obama hosted a town hall meeting in Elkhart, IN — which faces the nation’s fastest-rising unemployment rate — to promote his recovery and reinvestment plan. As the Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin notes, Obama traveled to relatively unfriendly territory: Obama lost the county to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 44 percent to 56 percent. Despite that fact, the White House did not screen its audience, who had the chance to ask the president questions:

    In a dramatic contrast to former President Bush’s town-hall meetings — which were held almost exclusively in party strongholds, with tickets distributed primarily to supporters — it was first-come, first-served in Elkhart on Saturday [when tickets were distributed]. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained on Friday: “I’ve watched the President do town halls from 2004 through 2008, and the audience has never been hand-picked, and neither have the questions. And we’re not going to start any of that on Monday.”

What’s more, Obama invited two critics of his package along for the Air Force One ride to Indiana: Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who both voted against the bill.

This is how it should be in a Democracy. When the President holds a town hall meeting it should be in front of ALL the people and not just the ones that think he’s doing a great job. He should be open to not only hearing, but considering criticisms by those who disagree. He should have the balls to stand up and defend his plans to the people he represents without trying to create a false illusion of overwhelming support by stacking the deck.

In short, he should be honest with the people. Bush was never honest during his entire time in office. He preferred to stay within his insular bubble protected from all dissent so he could continue to believe he could do no wrong.

6 thoughts on “Obama holds town hall for an unscreened audience.

  1. Ya know, I absolutely hate-Hate-HATE the term, but neocons are just pussies—full stop.  I mean, it’s a lifestyle:  These asshats have already fenced themselves inside the gated communities of the Beltway, Bohemian Club, Augusta National, yadayadayada.  Why in @#$%‘s name should politics be any different? 

    George W. Bush was is the epitome of these hothouse flowers—a guy who has never once had to risk his @$$ on anything, whether in the military, in business, or in politics.  Daddy’s connections and Mommy’s money have always been there to smooth the path in front of him and clean up the mess behind him.  Why would anyone be surprised at the cluster-@#$% he made of two terms?

    And more to the point, why should anyone be surprised at his inability to step outside the terrarium in which he’d spent his entire life?  Or the spoiled frat boy petulance when things didn’t go his way?  Gary Trudeau nailed it:  “All noblesse and no oblige.”

    Bottom line:  When your Mom said that bullies are scared little people, she was 100% correct.  Sometimes I even regret being a non-believer, simply because I’ll never have the comfort of thinking that these fucks will spend eternity screaming.

  2. Bush’s handlers knew they could not let him into an unstructured environment because absolutely nobody, not even Bush himself, had any idea what would come out of his mouth. Think about the overseas trips when Bush talked about toothpaste with Tony Blair – something those in the UK to this day are trying to figure out, I am told – and we know on this side of the pond that it is just the equivalent of a two-year-old lost at MIT wandering into and out of offices showing scientists his plastic dinosaurs.
    Yes, I heartily welcome the thoughtful Obama actually listening to opinions and rants and engaging some brain cells to fix hard problems. It is completely refreshing to see signs of intellect in the Oval Office again.

  3. I’m sure the conservative talking heads will either find some negative way to spin this, or never mention it to their audiences.

  4. Yay.  Obama is not the Second Coming, or even the Antichrist, but he sure as hell is a breath of fresh air.

    The other day I got to talking to some guys in a hardware store where I was buying some iron plate.  They were immigrants from Java, and had been living in Austria for some twenty years.  They were very excited about Obama’s election, and what it means for the whole world.  One of them said, in his broken English, “We can do it!”

    This is something I’ve encountered with all kinds of people: if nothing else, Obama has improved the world’s opinion of the US tremendously.  Let’s hope that he runs the best he can with it.

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