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Republicans, Heal Thyselves!

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By Bill Persky and Bruce Kluger.

After a year of contentious infighting, bitter feuds and stalled legislation, President Obama has taken a new tack in his attempt to achieve bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, forcing face-to-face negotiations with his staunchest critics. Since January, Mr. Obama has convened his political foes in a variety of settings, trying to persuade even one Republican to cross over--but to no avail.

Still, if Washington is serious about healing its divisions, perhaps there's an easier solution. Maybe if the president and his enemies met at a well-stocked bookstore in D.C. and simply read titles to one another--in the self-help aisle and from a few neighboring shelves--they could finally find a way to dialogue...

President Obama: "Let's Start Talking."

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): "No." "I Don't Want to Talk About It."

Obama: "What Does That Mean?" "Focus on the Positive." "Have a Little Faith." "You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought."

McConnell: "Yes I Can."

Obama: "Don't Be So Defensive." "Why Can't We Get Along?"

Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio): "Now, That's a Good Question."

Obama: "Come On, People." "Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play." "What's the Bottom Line?" "What's Making You Angry?"

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): "I'm Not Mad, I Just Hate You!"

Obama: "Are You Kidding Me?" "What Did I Do Wrong?"

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine): "He's Just Not That Into You."

Obama: "I Hear You, But..." "We're All in This Together." "How Can I Get Through to You?" "What Can I Do To Help?"

McConnell: "Quit Your Job and Move to Key West."

Obama: "Not a Chance." "Nothing's Impossible." "Everything is Negotiable."

Snowe: "Maybe Yes, Maybe No."

Obama: "Good Grief." "Are You Really Listening?" "What's Eating You?" "What Are Your Goals"?

Boehner: "Telling Lies." "Playing Dirty." "Whining."

Obama: "That's Not What I Meant!" "Help Me Understand." "What's the Big Secret?"

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.): "I Am Right, You Are Wrong."

Obama: "Who Said So?"

Leiberman: "My Mother Always Used to Say..."

Snowe: "Don't Blame Mother!"

Obama: "How Can I Get Through to You?" "What Do You Want From Me?"

Lieberman: "I Want More of Everything." "I Want it Now."

Obama: "Stop, You're Driving Me Crazy!" "Why Is It Always About You?"

Lieberman: "My Mother Always Used to Say That, Too."

Snowe: "Stop Obsessing!"

Lieberman: "Mind Your Own Business."

Obama: "Calm Down!" "Tell Me the Truth." "What Do You Really Want?"

Snowe: "I Want To Change But I Don't Know How."

Obama: "That's a Great Answer." "Stop Being Manipulated." "Be Yourself." "You're Gonna Make It!"

Snowe: "How Do You Know?"

Obama: "Trust Me."

Boehner: "Uh-Oh."

Obama: "The Choice Is Yours." "Let Yourself Go."

Snowe: "Could It Be This Simple?"

Obama: "Life Is Simple!" "Fear No More." "You Can Be Happy No Matter What."

Snowe: "I Think I Can, I Know I Can!"

McConnell (to Snowe): "Girlfriend Please! Snap Out of It! He's Not Worth It!"

Snowe: "But I Love Him."

Obama: "Yes!"

Boehner: "Uh-Oh."

Obama: "I Love My Job!" "Yes We Can!"

McCain: "I Hate Your Guts."

Bill Persky is a producer-writer-director whose credits include "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "That Girl" and "Kate and Allie." Bruce Kluger is a writer and Bill Persky fan. This piece originally appeared in The Los Angeles Times on March 14, 2010.