Behind Enemy Lines


It was one of the most compelling moments of Barack Obama’s presidency: The president taking questions from some of his harshest critics in the opposition, and, in the process, castigating them for casting his policies as to the extreme left.

Mr. Obama told members of the House GOP at a Baltimore retreat that their decision to tell their constituents he is “going to destroy America” had made it virtually impossible for them to vote with Democrats on even moderate policies, at least if they didn’t want to jeopardize their reelection prospects.

Original DVD cover

[I]t was an amazing scene: The president of the United States telling his critics directly that if they want anything to get done, their tone has to change. At one point he said, “I’m not an ideologue, I’m just not,” arguing that he and his party had incorporated good Republican ideas into health care reform and other legislative efforts.

Republicans, in turn, were eager to argue that, contrary to Democratic suggestions, they are not just “the Party of No,” an obstructionist block uninterested in working with the majority party no matter what. House Republican Leader John Boehner handed the president a document called “GOP Better Solutions” outlining the GOP’s policy positions at the outset of the event, and virtually all eight Republican questioners stressed that their party does have ideas.

Mr. Obama countered, however, that while Republican ideas may be there, corroboration from independent analysts that many would be effective were not. He signaled out tort reform, saying that for Republicans to suggest that it’s all that is needed to hold down health care costs โ€“ when the Congressional Budget Office is suggesting it would be just a drop in the bucket โ€“ is disingenuous.


Mr. Obama dealt deftly with difficult questions in the 90-minute sessions, and perhaps even put to rest conservative jokes about his use of a teleprompter (at least temporarily). At one point, when it was suggested the event would soon wrap up, the president, squarely in enemy territory, shrugged off the possibility, quipping, “I’m having fun.”

“The Republican House Caucus has managed to turn Obama’s weakness — his penchant for nuance — into a strength,” wrote The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, who is also CBS News’ chief political consultant. “Plenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions, but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president.”

After Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas asked Mr. Obama a question on the national debt, the president used it to make his point. “The whole question was structured as a talking point for running a campaign,” he said. He called Hensarling’s suggestion that the monthly deficit under the Democrats matched the yearly deficit under Republicans “factually just not true,” โ€“ and added, “and you know it’s not true.”

In his speech before the question-and-answer session, the president asked Republican lawmakers to sign onto his effort to pass new tax credits for small businesses for hiring and wage increases, as well as an elimination of the small business capital gains tax.

“There is nothing in that proposal,” he said, “that runs contrary to the ideological dispositions in this caucus.” Yet he suggested that didn’t matter to Republicans, because they were more interested in scoring political points than finding common ground.


“If the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town — a supermajority — then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well,” he said. “Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.”


Now the GOP is trying to decide if their oppositional strategy makes sense in 2010, with the midterm elections looming. Boehner, who has signaled little interest in working with Democrats, told colleagues Thursday that “we could conceivably win by simply opposing everything and standing for nothing. But could we govern that way? I think we all know the answer is ‘no.'”


Following Mr. Obama’s appearance Friday, Boehner came before the cameras to suggest he wouldn’t be changing his posture. When he casts the health care reform effort as a “government takeover,” he said, that’s because he “truly believe[s]” that it is.

Now the question for the White House is whether the president can build on this appearance and the State of the Union to convince Americans he is genuinely interested in engagement. While he may not be able to change the tone in Washington, he’s likely to find value in making the case that he is actually trying.


Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Democrats, humor, John Boehner, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

41 responses to “Behind Enemy Lines

  1. maryyooch

    Wasn’t Obama great!
    It’s so nice to have a nice, thoughtful, intelligent man in office. He had everything ready, not one bullshit talking point got away unscathed.
    I absolutely loved it.

    Now the rethugs are trying to do major damage control. They thought because Obama is such a decent guy that they’d get away with their condescending and lecturing remarks. When Marsha Blackburn was talking, I could have reached through the tee vee screen and smacked the hell out of her.

    Now, Obama should quit with the bi-partisan shit. He’s done more than anyone else would even try to do. They’ve had more than enough chances. It’s time to pass HCR and cap and trade.
    Screw the rethugs!

    • can you just imagine chimpy winging it in a room filled with dems? that would have been hilarious! he could barely make it through the few press conferences he had.

      the rethugs made a huge mistake when they allowed cameras. they looked like chumps.

  2. dansk47

    Classic! Love it! Bravo, bravo!

  3. Hey nonnie,
    Have I told you how much I enjoy seeing the original covers? because they show the distance your creativity has to travel; and it’s always marvelous.

    And something else I value too, but never thank you for: the consistently excellent text that you search out. I can’t even remember what we did when we didn’t have the crazy raisins. Thanks!

    • awww, terry, you’re so sweet. i always wonder how often people actually look at the original covers. i always hope people will so they can pick out my little jokes. this one was fairly easy, except for the title. that took me longer than anything, as is often the case. there’s probably a much easier way to do it that i’m not aware of. i like trying to get as close to the original lettering as possible.

      i always try to find text that covers the important parts of the story, but i have to admit that sometimes i go for the articles that contain all the characters i want to put in the posters. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

  4. kaylaspop

    Mr O. kicked the crap out of those thugs. Ahh, how satisfying.

    • hi kaylaspop! welcome back! it really was a thing of beauty, wasn’t it? the fact that the rethugs allowed the cameras to be there was icing on the cake. if it hadn’t been aired, the rethugs would have spun it so that it sounded like they beat obama to a pulp with their awesome rhetoric. they can spin as much as they want, but they can’t even find a few seconds of film that shows them in a good light. ๐Ÿ˜†

  5. Barack Obama in the Bruce Campbell role. Bruce’s motto is “if chins could kill.” The Presidents motto is “if brains could kill.”

  6. “If you say we can offer coverage for all Americans, and it won’t cost a penny, that’s just not true. You can’t structure a bill where suddenly 30 million people have coverage, and it costs nothing… That’s great politics, but it’s just not true.” –Obama

    THAT was the highlight of the whole Q&A period. I watched the whole thing because it was hysterical. I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of the Republicans when Obama refuted everything they were saying. I’m sure they were thinking something along the lines of “oh shit, he’s on to us” and “huh? I don’t get all this edumucated stuff.”

    The Republicans are such bleeding liars. In fact, the first Republican who spoke, the one who was standing on stage, he couldn’t even look Obama in the eye while talking to him. He occasionally glanced over at Obama but primarily kept his gaze fixed on the audience. I’d say it was a guilty conscience, but I don’t believe any of them have a conscience in the first place.

    • my favorite part was when obama said he was having a good time! i thought that was hilarious. they weren’t laying a glove on him. the onstage asswipe was mike pence. he makes me want to puke whenever i see him. there’s something really slimy about him.

  7. It was something to see. A leader who can use his intelligence instead of family connections. An adult in the room full of toddlers learning their first word. All parents know what that word is.

    • well, in ordinary circumstances, a baby’s first word is usually mama or dada. in this case, though, i think their first word should have been uncle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. JaxDem

    whOOt hOOt – It was indeed a Smackdown nonnie.

    Note to Boehner: That decidedly uncomfortable feeling you had was your little “GOP Better Solutions” being shoved up your arse – from whence you and the other gopauthors pulled it out of in the first place.

    Don’t it feel good to be able to go “nonny nonny boo boo” again? :mrgreen:

  9. we need a lot more of those – a lot more

  10. mkirschmd

    Tort reform would not just save a ‘drop in the bucket’. We can’t even calculate the savings from eliminating defensive medicine, tests that patients don’t need that physicians like me order to protect ourselves. If you think this is hyperbole, ask you own physician about this. If he denies the practice, then repeat the inquiry with a polygraph. See under Legal Quality.

    • Not being able to sue for good cause is just a way to protect industry and corporations from liability. This isn’t China, where they can put Melamine in your baby’s food and you have no right to do anything about it. You want to live in a place like that, go for it. But it ain’t here.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should be able to sue for stupid stuff, or stuff that wasn’t preventable, but if a doctor makes a blatant mistake that was the result of idiocy or not paying attention, etc., they should be sued and worse. Same goes for the pharmaceuticals and all other corporations. They fuck up intentionally or because of lack of thinking things through, they should pay.

    • with all due respect (and i don’t mean that in a snarky or sarcastic way), but tort reform would indeed fix health care–for doctors and insurance companies. it would do very little for patients, who are suffering the most. are there bogus lawsuits? absolutely. however, there are many more that are legitimate. i must admit to being biased, as i’m someone who was permanently disabled by surgery (and, no i didn’t sue the surgeon, even though he was a complete shithead).

      i have to ask, if patients were not allowed to sue doctors for big bucks, then how else are doctors going to be policed? by the ama? hah! they protect crappy doctors, just like the bar associations protect crappy attorneys. there are doctors performing procedures for which they are unqualified and untrained, and nobody is keeping an eye on them.

      is it really a matter of too many test being performed in order to cover doctors’ asses, or is it a case of the tests being ridiculously expensive, because laboratories and doctors have to employ a full staff of people just to fill out paperwork for insurance companies and then fight with those companies in order to get the test covered?

      exactly what is a patient whose life is ruined by the actions of a doctor or a hospital (whose job, it seems, is to protect their employees and their doctors, not their patients) supposed to do when they can no longer work? what’s supposed to protect future patients if doctors and hospitals are not punished in a way that really hurts?

      yes, tort reform is part of the problem, but a very small part. billions of dollars going to insurance companies for nothing is the elephant in the room, and there’s no escaping that.

      p.s. your link doesn’t work.

  11. In the opening one of the first questions was if Obama would embrace tax cuts.

    He came right back with “that was a loaded question”….. but he said if you are asking me to give Warren Buffet tax breaks, I’m probably not going to agree with that.

    Eff the GOP & the tax cuts for the wealthy they rode in on.

    • i want to know exactly what jobs paris hilton has created with the tax cuts she’s gotten. maybe another paparazzi is hanging around her house, but other than that, i don’t see multimillionaires like her going out and hiring a bunch of people with their tax cuts.

  12. Marsha Blackburn Voted FOR:
    Omnibus Appropriations, Special Education, Global AIDS Initiative, Job Training, Unemployment Benefits, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, Agriculture Appropriations, U.S.-Singapore Trade, U.S.-Chile Trade, Supplemental Spending for Iraq & Afghanistan, Prescription Drug Benefit, Child Nutrition Programs, Surface Transportation, Job Training and Worker Services, Agriculture Appropriations, Foreign Aid, Vocational/Technical Training, Supplemental Appropriations, UN โ€œReforms.โ€ Patriot Act Reauthorization, CAFTA, Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations, Head Start Funding, Line-item Rescission, Oman Trade Agreement, Military Tribunals, Electronic Surveillance, Head Start Funding, COPS Funding, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes โ€œViolent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Peru Free Trade Agreement, Economic Stimulus, Farm Bill (Veto Override), Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening.

    Marsha Blackburn Voted AGAINST:
    Ban on UN Contributions, eliminate Millennium Challenge Account, WTO Withdrawal, UN Dues Decrease, Defunding the NAIS, Iran Military Operations defunding Iraq Troop Withdrawal, congress authorization of Iran Military Operations.

    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    See her unconstitutional votes at :

    • hello mickey,

      welcome to the raisin! ๐Ÿ˜€

      marsha blackburn is nothing but michele bachmann lite. she was michele bachmann before michele bachmann was michele bachmann. of course, michele added a whole new layer of batshit, but they’re basically the same.

  13. writechic

    Ha! Love it! Especially the bats! And the title. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Note on malpractice. Back about 10 years ago the head of the AMA was interviewed by Charlie Rose and the question of malpractice was discussed. The bossman was compelled to answer the constant criticism that 10 to 15% of the doctors were incompetent. He personally undertook his investigation and told Charlie “it would be closer to 30%”.

  15. Sorry to hear you had to suffer at the hands of one of these bozos. Hang in there! We sorely need your wit and humor. It’s nice to come to a place where it’s funny and even educational where 99% of the comments aren’t from total buttheads. Thanx!

    • it’s been 13 years now. what really pisses me off is that a doctor can get another job if he can’t practice medicine, but what is a patient supposed to do when s/he can’t work? what if s/he needs in-home nursing care because a doctor or a hospital screws up? why should the patient or his/her family suffer for the rest of his/her life while the doctor is protected? i don’t mean to sound so bitter. there are good doctors who make mistakes. they’re human, and you have to expect that. however, there are others who make mistakes over and over again, and they shouldn’t be protected.

  16. mkirschmd

    There is no argument that rogue physicians should be sanctioned and that patients injured by negligent care shold be compensated. The point, ignored by most commenters, is how to filter out those physicians like me who should never be dragged into the medical liability circus. If nearly every physician in the country is hostile to the current system and feels it’s unfair, doesn’t that carry any weight with you? The system is targeting the wrong doctors. In response, we practice defensive medicine that you don’t need.

    • i have no doubt that doctors don’t like the present system. nobody likes a system that penalizes them. the patients are not too crazy about the system either, and i suspect there are more unhappy patients than unhappy doctors. i don’t think the answer is to target the doctors. the correct answer is to target the insurance companies, big pharma, and the hospital system. the insurance companies do nothing but deny services in order to enrich themselves. the insurance companies should not have any say in the treatment of a patient. that should be between a doctor and a patient. get rid of the insurance companies and free up all those dollars for real care. get rid of all the ridiculous big pharma ads on tv. the american people have been underwriting big pharma for years. government agencies do much of the research. why should big pharma reap all the benefits while we have to pay more for meds than everyone else in foreign countries for the same meds? shouldn’t the doctors make the decisions about what a patient needs based on good medical science and training rather than a commercial the patient saw on tv or how much a drug company wines and dines a doctor? what about the manipulation of patents to forestall generics becoming available? and the hospitals? 12 bucks for a mucus recovery system, which turns out to be a box of tissues!

      if you took all the money spent on health needs in this country and put it in a bit pot, we could underwrite the education of doctors and nurses and other medical professionals. there’s no reason anyone should start off a career hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt (that would work for other professions as well, such as teachers). make sure the doctors get adequate compensation, which would result in them only seeing a set number of patients in a day, instead of them rushing from patient to patient. a proper patient history might result in a lot fewer mistakes. have a pool of money that can be tapped when a patient is a victim of malpractice, a mistake, or just a bad outcome. if medical help is needed at home, it should be available under a single payer system.

      there can still be doctors who want to work outside the system. there can be private hospitals as well. however, people who choose them should have to pay for them, and the doctors and other medical professionals who choose that system should pay for their own education. insurance companies can run their boutique medicine systems if that’s what people want to spend their money on.

      other countries have this dual system, and it works better than the crap we have here.