Throughout George W. Bush's presidency, White House staffers implemented what were generally called "Bubble Boy" policies. The goal was the shield the former president from those who may have disagreed with him or might ask him questions he didn't want to answer. The anti-dissent policy was often taken to comical lengths, including blocking people from attending public events based on their bumper stickers, requiring loyalty oaths for tickets, and in at least one instance, rehearsing a town-hall meeting a day in advance.
In contrast, consider Obama's approach to diversity of thought. The new president traveled to an economically-depressed community that voted heavily for his opponent in November. Tickets to the event were publicly available to anyone, no loyalty oaths or Democratic fealty required. White House staffers didn't check bumper-stickers for conservative messages, and there was no "blacklist" of Republicans who would be denied entry. There were no hand-picked questions and no hand-picked questioners.
So this is what it's like to have a president with the courage of his convictions, and the confidence to talk to Americans who may disagree with him. I'd almost forgotten.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Change We Can Believe In
Steve Benen notes that something happened today at a Presidential town hall meeting that hasn't happened in more than eight years: a President took a question from someone who disagrees with him: