With many reality shows, the first season is riveting, but, by the second season, the show has devolved into a formulaic sales vehicle. The last thing we need right now is for the president and our elected officials to waste time participating in more planned question times that will no doubt follow the same process.
Sure, the question and answer session with President Obama and the House Republicans was without question great television and provided blissful moments of schadenfreude for Democrats, and a similar session with Senate Democrats was vaguely interesting. The idea that, in this country and this media culture, any future sessions will be much more than extensions of "politics as usual" is simply not realistic.
Next time, why don't the Democrats meet in confidence and develop consistent responses to the Republican messaging created by Frank Luntz?
If you're unfamiliar with his work, you've no doubt heard it in the unwavering Republican talking points when you read or hear them quoted on the news or - and this is even more scary - when you read or hear them in the framing of the news stories themselves. Here's a link where you can download his memo about how to kill Healthcare Reform and read it for yourself. His recommendations will no doubt sound familiar. And here's a link where you can download his memo about how to kill Financial Reform and read it for yourself. This will be the language you will be hearing in the weeks ahead.
If these recent Presidential question and answer sessions have done anything helpful in terms of governmental action, it is that they have made the President stronger in the short term. However, Republicans won't be caught unawares if there is a next time, and Democrats are too averse to following direction to use the sessions to good effect in the future.
Transparency for its own sake is masturbatory. Sure, it makes you feel good. But, feeling good isn't going to solve this country's and our world's problems.