During this afternoon's Q&A session between President Barack Obama and the House Republican Caucus, Obama, in responding to a question from Representative Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), castigated the media for their obsession with the baser aspects of our political discourse, and the way they reinforce the incivility in Washington because the incivility is the only product they're genuinely excited about.
"A tone of civility instead of slash and burn would be helpful...The problem we have sometimes is a media that sometimes responds only to slash and burn politics."
He bemoaned the harshness of the debate over health care legislation:
Component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much -- but that's not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.
And he appealed to Republicans to stay grounded in reality - in part for their own sakes:
So all I'm saying is we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.
I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.
I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, "This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."
And now, here's how Politico chose to capture the entire, wide-ranging discussion that the President and the House GOP had, in the email they frantically rushed out to my inbox at 1:13 this afternoon:
POLITICO Breaking News:
President Barack Obama, speaking at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore, accuses Republicans of portraying health care reform as a "Bolshevik plot" and telling their constituents that he is "doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."
And thus, Obama's point has been duly made!