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Won’t Get Fooled Again: Day 11

Another indication that we might have crossed a threshold in our civic and political discourse. Today’s Washington Post has a long article about Obama’s week old presidency trying to redefine the debate among the political parties. In one particular passage, there is the hope that he shares with many government information librarians that the fullness of the debate, and difference of view, are more important to a democracy then scoring political points. Here is the relevant passage:

“The uncertainty over just how the new president defines bipartisanship traces back to the campaign trail. When Obama called for an end to “broken and divided politics,” his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), and others contended that there were few instances in Obama’s career when he had made major concessions that upset fellow Democrats to reach agreement with Republicans.

But this, said some who have worked with Obama, overlooked his intent. To Obama, they said, fixing “broken politics” is less about making concessions just for the sake of finding common ground and more about elevating the debate — replacing cynical gamesmanship and immature name-calling with intellectually honest arguments and respect for the other side’s motives. In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama waxes nostalgic about the fellowship and vigorous debate of Congress’s halcyon days in the mid-20th century more than about the centrist deals the era produced.

Obama’s bipartisanship “was as much about style, collegiality and civilness as it was actual movement on issues,” said state Sen. Kirk W. Dillard, who was Obama’s closest Republican ally in the Illinois legislature. Obama did compromise on major bills on ethics and the death penalty as a state senator, but there were limits, Dillard said: “He always listened to the other side and would move to some degree, but his bipartisanship was clearly about the tone and the way you treat one another . . . and trying to understand the other side — and not necessarily all about caving in.””

If he can eject even a smidgen of civility back into the discourse…that would be a good thing.

See you Day 12

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