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Obama should debate Boehner and McConnell

An election is about choices. But especially in midterm voting, which involves state-by-state and district-by-district contests, the differences are not always joined cleanly. So let's give the country a chance to understand what's at stake this year.

Between now and November, President Obama should debate both John Boehner, the House Republican leader, and Mitch McConnell, the GOP leader in the Senate. Their confrontations, televised and during prime time, would certainly get the attention of voters and make clear what the stakes in the election are.

Obama has already started a long-distance debate with Boehner, hitting him hard in speeches this week in Wisconsin and Ohio. Boehner, who has been critical of Obama for months, should welcome the chance to take his argument straight to the president himself. And since the Senate is in play, too, the voters should also get to see what McConnell has to offer. If the Republicans take both houses, Boehner and McConnell would become hugely important figures -- remember how powerful House Speaker Newt Gingrich was? The country should get to know more about them before deciding.

When I broached this idea with my friend and colleague Tom Mann at the Brookings Institution, he made the point that with the United States moving more and more toward a parliamentary-style democracy, we should adapt some of the sensible practices of parliamentary governments to our now-hybrid system. These debates, he thinks, would fit right in.

In parliamentary systems, the opposition party, as the name implies, sees its job as opposing. That's what Republicans are doing here. In the British Parliament, "question time" gives the opposition a chance to hold the prime minister accountable and creates a running debate. Surely American voters deserve similar forms of accountability -- on the part of both the president and his congressional opponents. Let the great debates of 2010 begin.

UPDATE, 10:00 a.m.: I did not realize until my colleague Ezra Klein called it to my attention just now that Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has also proposed debates along the lines I have suggested -- and Jonathan got there first. So that makes two of us. Any other takers? Maybe there's a media outlet or a non-partisan group out there that can issue the invitations.

By E.J. Dionne  | September 10, 2010; 9:18 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: Don't burn the Koran: chapter three

Comments

ICE Refuses to Deport "Non-Violent" Illegal Aliens

In a major policy shift, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued new guidelines regarding the prosecution of deportation cases: if an arrested illegal alien is not a convicted criminal or a terrorist threat, the case should be dropped.

= = = = = = = = = = =

Obama is suing Arizona claiming only the feds can enforce immigration law and then changes the fed policy to not enforce the law at all.

The feds estimate that 8 million illegal aliens supplied their employers with bogus SSNs to work in manufacturing, construction and service industries.

These are 8 million jobs Americans want and need.

Posted by: panola60 | September 10, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

to all,

actually i hope that "the annointed one" debates the GOP leaders, inasmuch as every time he opens his BIG mouth, he puts his foot into it up to the ankle.

the frank truth is that, absent his teleprompter, BHO sounds like a DUNCE & a majority of voters are sick of his ARROGANT, SELF-impressed, constant campaigning & spewing out of meaningless platitudes.

the TRUTH also is that there is NOTHING that BHO can do/say to stop the BLOODBATH that 11/02/2010 will be for the DIMocRATS in Congress. = it won't even be close.
(my guess is that the DIMocRATS will lose 11 seats in the Senate & 60-65 seats in the HoR.)

what BHO should do is plan to "vacation" for the next two years, as he will be IRRELEVANT after December of this year.

just my opinion.

yours, tn46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 10, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm - I agree in principle. But Boehner and McConnell's opposite numbers are Pelosi and Reid respectively, so it would really make more sense for them to debate one another. Not that I wouldn't love to see Obama do a verbal stomping of Radioactive Man and Uncle Scrooge.

Posted by: daraghmcdowell | September 10, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Force them to defend their plans, including things that Angle and Paul say? Absolutely! That is easily done: keep repeating their statements, with a clear interpretation of what the impact will be to things like Social Security, MediCare, and the like.

Debate them? No. Why grant them any legitimacy?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 10, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Well let's see who's right. Is it the trolls posting here in all caps, is it the president, or is it Boehner and McConnell?

Equally important, we may find out if the trolls do indeed speak for the American public, as they so claim.

My guess is that a bunch of cranky and anonymous yet prolific comment posters does not an American majority make.

I for one would love an honest debate. If they're so sure about the weakness of the president, they ought to love it too.

Posted by: itstrue | September 10, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Well let's see who's right. Is it the trolls posting here in all caps, is it the president, or is it Boehner and McConnell?

Equally important, we may find out if the trolls do indeed speak for the American public, as they so claim.

My guess is that a bunch of cranky and anonymous yet prolific comment posters do not speak for most Americans.

I for one would love an honest debate. If they're so sure about the weakness of the president, they ought to love it too.

Posted by: itstrue | September 10, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately Obama has one track record, Bohner and McConnell another. Personally, I could care less what a politician tells me. Deeds, EJ...not words.

Posted by: twann9852 | September 10, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

For a real and Dynamic Debate the Great Orator should consider challanging Newt Gingrich to a debate on any pertinent Topic for the Salvation of America.. and get the long overdue THrashing that might make him a better man....

Posted by: redhawk2 | September 10, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Would love to see that but do not think it will happen. When President Obama had a discussion, shown on TV, with the republicans about policies, he wiped the floor with them. They acted and looked like children whining about someone stealing their candy. In other words, their intelligence, or should I say, lack of intelligence and substance was very obvious.
When a political party has no acceptable, workable, credible ideas and only exists to point fingers, spread propaganda, lies, fights against improvement, advancement all for the sake of winning the next election, than you have a party that has thrown away all integrity, honor and what they were elected to do.

Posted by: kathlenec | September 10, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Messrs Dionne and Klien are desperate for a vehicle for promoting the political position that they espouse. Why? Is it because that they are noticing that they are losing the debate that is going on now? They are uncomfortable with the electoral process. But that is not a surprise.

Posted by: Crmudgeon | September 10, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

What an interesting idea.
Since Republican's high polling numbers exist in a vacuum of policy proposals, putting Boehner and McConnell on the spot would be a thing of beauty.
For Republicans, there is no 'there' there. Their followers are defined by vacuous ''Obama uses the teleprompter!"' type of rantings. Factcheck has to run in overdrive to keep up with all the misperceptions planted and nurtured in the conservative community.
For Obama, this event would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Posted by: jmk833 | September 10, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

In your dreams.
The legislative branch verses the executive branch. How about Judge Roberts verses Pelosi, or Biden vs Thomas. What about an NCAA March Madness structure- who will make the final four- Boehner, Kagan(dark house), Clinton(Bill from the legends bracket), Obama? Maybe a Survivor structure with poor performers voted off. The possibilities are endless.

Sorry, EJ, Boehner and McConnell have a voting record, and Obama has a "present" record. The public knows enough. The polls show it.

Posted by: flyover22 | September 10, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Surely "question time" in the British Parliament is a poor, childish model. We can do better.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | September 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Too many gullible people overlooked Obama's track record and fell for the flowery oratory. I don't think they will make the same mistake twice.

Posted by: twann9852 | September 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Re:

"Newt Gingrich to a debate on any pertinent Topic for the Salvation of America.. and get the long overdue THrashing that might make him a better man...."

I saw Gingrich speak at a meeting about a year and a half ago. He was talking about health care and health reform. He described his plan for reform, nearly identical to the one that passed.

That platform was taken down from his web site last summer when health reform turned political.

After describing his reform package (which he later refuted when politically convenient), Gingrich lectured the audience on the importance of personal responsibility and self control in combating diabetes and obesity. This, coming from a fat man.

When he talks about the environment, he says he's doing his part by driving a hybrid... Cadillac Escalade.

When he talks about morality he puts aside his own foibles with staffers leading to divorce. Doesn't even say he was wrong.

Gingrich's inconsistencies would be a wonderful target for a debate. But he doesn't represent the GOP anymore. Boehner and McConnell do. Bring 'em.

Posted by: itstrue | September 10, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

A debate between Obama and Boehner and McConnell would absolutely shake up the national conversation and would focus the nation on the real challenges it faces,instead of the endless media attention devoted to a crackpot Koran burning minister and an Islamic Center in lower Manhattan.However,I doubt that the Republican leadership would ever agree to such debates,because if the voters ever focus on their agenda of tax cuts for the rich, the decimation of every social program from Social Security to unemployment insurance, and their bomb ,bomb, bomb Iran foreign policy,their extreme right wing platform would be rejected overwhemingly in Nov. Moreover, I think that Obama's advisers are so cautious and timid that they would never agree to such debates.Still,we can hope that the President and the Republican leaders would agree to debate so that the voters would have a real chance to evaluate both party's plans and philosophies. Let the great debates begin!

Posted by: johnbird1 | September 10, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Interesting idea, though we all know it'll never happen. Senator McConnell refuses to even mention what the Republican plan is until next month for fear of "scooping himself".

Remember, it wasn't too long ago that the President mopped the floor with Congressman Boehner and company at the televised meeting over health care reform, with no teleprompter in sight.

The only significant accomplishment McConnell can brag about is breaking all previous records on the number of filibusters: http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/cloture_motions/clotureCounts.htm

Posted by: JamesK1 | September 10, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Boehner, debate? You've got to be kidding. He's not Minority Leader because of brain power, it's due to his ability to raise money. Maybe they can send Paul Ryan to defend the Republican plans to further loot Social Security to pay for more tax cuts and wars?

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | September 10, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Why should they want to debate when it's worked so well talking endless smack about the guys in charge?

If I were Boehner, McConnell and their fans, I'd double down on the trashtalk and stay light on what they'd propose. That's just what they're doing.

From a purely political standpoint, a debate is the last thing they'd want.

Even better, I'd love to see some sort of agreement on putting all this posturing aside and fixing the serious problems America faces. Some kind of post-election peace treaty... I don't know.

Reasonable people can disagree and still get the job done. In fact, we depend on that as a democracy.

Politics sometimes makes its players unreasonable, especially when they have nothing to lose from it, like today's across-the-board minority. They won't even vote for their *own* proposals if it'd have any political value to the other side. Something basic is messed up about that.

Any proposal that works towards making the guys in charge work with each other, and in the public interest, I'll certainly be for.

Posted by: itstrue | September 10, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

A debate between Obama and Boehner and McConnell would shake up the national conversation and focus the voters on the real challenges facing the nation instead of the current media frenzy devoted to a crackpot Koran burning minister and the building of an Islamic center in lower Manhattan.However,I doubt that the Republican leaders would ever agree to debate the president because they know that if the country focuses on their plans to give tax cuts to millionaires,decimate every social program from Social Security to unemployment insurance and their bomb,bomb, bomb Iran foreign policy,the voters would reject their cnadidates overwhelmingly in Nov. Moreover,I fear that Obama's advisers are so timid and cautious that they would never encourage him to participate in such debates.However,we can hope that the Republican leadership and the president will give the voters a chance to evaluate their plans and philosophies.Let the great debates begin!

Posted by: johnbird1 | September 10, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Dionne wants more talking from the teleprompter reading monkey? That's all Oblama has done so far and most folks don't care what he has to say anymore.

Posted by: mgrantham2 | September 10, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Obama debate Boehner and McConnell - Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! Boehner and McConnell would never agree to it. The last time Obama walked into the Republicans house in Baltimore, he pounded the day-lights out of them and FOX News stopped filming and ran away. The only reason why the GOP are where they are today, is because Obama can't address all the lies being spread about him. Just look at all the Doom and Gloom, Demise of the Democrats headlines being put out there. Rupert Murdoch, and the billionaire Koch brothers must be spending a fortune on trying to get rid of Obama. They've been running these pumped-up GOP headlines for a year already. I couldn't understand where all this love for the GOP was coming from - then I read that New Yorker article that came out the other day. The GOP are going nowhere.. Even those poll numbers that have been plastered all over the place turned out to be frauds. And it was GOP insiders that said they were. The GOP are going to get the same thing Newt Gingrich got when he predicted a landslide victory - slammed into a wall. They may not lose 5 seats, but they're not going to come anywhere near what they're predicting..

Posted by: HemiHead66 | September 10, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Dionne and the Democrats are really grasping at straws.

If the words of Obama are so wonderful, have him do a 4 hour press conference where his answers are limited to 1 minute per question instead of the rambling 5-9 minute answers he usually gives in order to limit questions.

Posted by: pilsener | September 10, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Bartolo1 @ September 10, 2010 10:33 AM wrote 'Surely "question time" in the British Parliament is a poor, childish model. We can do better.'

Actually 'question time' in any parliamentary system (not just the British) would be a wonderful thing to have here, especially if it is televised. It will show who really can formulate solutions, who is just talk, and who is just an empty suit.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 10, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Sure, why not? Oh, because Boehner and McConnell will not agree? Because the Republicans have nothing, absolutley nothing to offer? Because it wouldn't be a fair fight?

Or because Rahm won't allow Obama to show just how worthless and out of touch the Republicans are for fear of exposing the great DC compromise - that all incumbents work for the common good of all incumbents, and all special interests, regardless of what's good for the country?

Posted by: pblotto | September 10, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

boehner or mcconnell going mano a mano with obama? it ain't gonna happen. to borrow a metaphor from a right winger of yore, 'a sausage is not going to step willingly into the grinder.' lapel pins and bumper stickers aside, how many republicans actually stepped up when uncle sam called? the g.o.p. has a long history of avoiding danger, rhetorical or otherwise.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | September 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barack, the American people didn't elevate you to the presidency -perhaps unwittingly- to jet around the country poor-mouthing loyal American citizens who justifiably disagree with your de-facto Marxist policies. As difficult as it may be, show some maturity and stay in D.C. to "responsibly" address the grave issues confronting our Nation. We all know by now that you can read a teleprompter text denigrating your opponents; but, as President much more is expected of you. Greg Neubeck

Posted by: gneubeck | September 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The conservatives in Britain were out of power for 13 years.... by just being the mere opposition. One day.... some of them started listening ... thinking with a "cleaner" slate. Kind of like a 21 year old might.... The undiscovered country, all the possibilities... and in so doing.... became born again, new somehow. Wink.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | September 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to guess that John of Orange would never agree to it - last time he appeared with Obama (during the health care summit) Obama ate his lunch.

But I'd be all for it - I think the US needs to see what clowns Boehner and McConnell really are.

And sheesh, what's up with the constant hate in all of the WAPO comment sections? Don't you republican staffers have any work to do? (and note to WAPO editors and monitors - I thought you guys had standards?)

Posted by: lcrider1 | September 10, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Instead of some contest, why doesn't Obama simply compose an article describing his personal philosophy and the reasons why he believes in it. Dionne could sacrifice one or two of his spaces for the occasion and we would all finally know something about this guy and go from there. We all know debates are ridiculous stage shows of performance. They truly are nothing more than dance contests.

Posted by: therube | September 10, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Boehner and McConnell have joined the rest of the country in ignoring Mr. Obama. Only the media show up for his show. Once it's aired, nobody watches. The crowded press room only gives the appearance that people are paying attention.

Posted by: ADNova | September 10, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Thomas Sowell and Steve Forbes debate economics with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Talk about comedy!!

Posted by: ADNova | September 10, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

EJ, I'll see your debate, and raise you another:

OBAMA-PELOSI-REID vs BOEHNER-MCCONNELL-PALIN

prime time, mano-a-mano, debate-club rules.


The GOPigs will NEVER EVER agree to it, because they are weak, feckless, ignoramuses who have benefitted greatly from Koch brothers and Murdoch's media buys.

They have nothing, they know they have nothing, and what they fear the most is public exposure.

Posted by: Wellstone | September 10, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Parliamentary style democracy?

EJ, I don't understand why you just don't move to Europe. I'm pretty sure you'd be much happier there.

I am amused by your anguished desperation over the coming thrashing of your beloved party however.

Posted by: WacoDave | September 10, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"absent his teleprompter, BHO sounds like a DUNCE"

I hear this a lot, and I don't get it. I have never once heard Obama sound like anything other than the intelligent, articulate person he is.

Did you not see the 80 minutes where he schooled the Republican house members, live and unaided by anything but his own grasp of facts? Oh, probably not...you probably only watch Fox News.

Posted by: lizgwiz | September 10, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

have we forgotten already how rediculous Obama made the GOPers look during that health care summit? Why should anyone expect anything different this time?

Personally, I feel that since McConnell and Boehner have acted with such lack of veracity and in bad faith these past 2 years that they really don't deserve the respect that comes with a seat at the table. If they aren't willing to even try and put statesmanship over and above their own narrow paritsan interestes then they really don't deserve that seat at the table in the first place.

Posted by: hohandy1 | September 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

So EJ, you just happened to come up with this same idea at the same time? Obama will have his chance to debate a republican in 2 years, that is if the democrats decide to stay the course with him at that time. Looks like Hillary is stalking the sidelines.

Posted by: termiteavenger | September 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama would eat the orange man's lunch in a debate.

Posted by: raqualung | September 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm - I agree in principle. But Boehner and McConnell's opposite numbers are Pelosi and Reid respectively, so it would really make more sense for them to debate one another. Not that I wouldn't love to see Obama do a verbal stomping of Radioactive Man and Uncle Scrooge.

Posted by: daraghmcdowell
#########################################

Without his teleprompter (and the big strong boys in the secret service) obama couldn't stomp his way out of a kindergarten debate.

Posted by: tjmlrc | September 10, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see it, but my guess is that McConnell and Boehner would be too scared to participate. I can't recall a single election in which the republican candidate didn't try to limit the number and nature of the debates. Maybe Obama could get them to participate if everyone was given the questions in advance, but otherwise, forget it.

Posted by: dougd1 | September 10, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I suppose we should expect Obama to pick up the rhetoric.

He definitely wants the focus on Republicans, and not the results of HIS leadership.

Posted by: postfan1 | September 10, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

We all need to accept lower wages, according to one of the Republic Party's economic gurus. Pressure on us to work for less will become intense after America returns the Republic Party to power.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-07/your-fat-paycheck-keeps-your-neighbor-unemployed-kevin-hassett.html

Posted by: mongolovesheriff | September 10, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I have a hard time believing that two such outstanding, obstructionist pseudo-Americans like McConnell and Boehner would agree to debate a non-US-born, Islamic socialist/nazi/communist committed to the total destruction of nothing short of the American way of life.

Posted by: ImaDem | September 10, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

to lizgwiz,

you will NEVER hear this from the main-SLIME, obama-WORSHIPING media, so i'll give you a FIRST PERSON account.

during the Democrat Primary season of 2008, i was invited to a political rally, by an old school chum of mine, to hear the Junior Senator from IL speak. frankly, i knew NOTHING about BHO except that he was the junior US Senator & was interested, so we went.

about 15 minutes into the rally, the electric power went "out" & the teleprompter was "killed". after a couple of minutes, one of the local Democrat "leaders" suggested that obama "take questions" from the audience.

the second or third question, that he "took", was from a young girl of about 12-13 years old.

she asked, "Senator, what is your favorite movie?"

after a long, painful, silence, Obama:
1. thanked her for coming to see him,
2. said that children of today were "the future of the country",
3. made a couple of DUMB, "off point" jokes,
4. stammered/stuttered/giggled,
5. looked around him (seeming to want to be "rescued" by someone/anyone)
AND
6. got "the deer in the headlights" look of PURE PANIC, because he could think of NOTHING at least HALF-intelligent to say.

Obama could have said:
1. i don't go to movies,
2. i don't like movies,
3. i have LOTS of favorite moviess,
4. i especially like (ANY MOVIE TITLE),
OR
5. my duties as a Senator keep me from going to see movies.

he NEVER answered her question & i turned to "my school chum" & said, "This guy is a dope. his campaign ends HERE, as the press will crucify him for being a FOOL."

SADLY, i was DEAD WRONG, as the media COVERED-UP for his gaffe, just as they have covered for him, when he repeatedly made other equally DUMB remarks and/or KNOWINGLY LIED to the public.

i have come to the SAD conclusion that Obama is a SELF-impressed, ARROGANT, LOUD-mouthed, "empty-head", who READS WELL & is SCRIPTED by others and NOTHING more than that.= imVho, AMERICA deserves something FAR better than this weakling/DUNCE, as POTUS.

just my opinion.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 10, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

This just goes to show how bad Obama has been as president. His main cheerleader, EJ, is calling for a debate with the opposing party EVEN THOUGH Obama is able to dictate his agenda to the mainstream press which, as Democratic lapdogs, then does its best to sell it to the public. Why would anybody in an advantageous position agree to elevate his adversaries by debating them? Because even with all of his advantages Obama is failing miserably. Obama's problem is that he disagrees with the American public on what the American Dream is. Most Americans think it means that if I work hard enough I can achieve ANYTHING; Obama thinks it means that the Government will take money from the hard workers and give it to politically-favored, less-successful workers, referred to in liberal-speak as "fairness," or, more accurately, redistribution.
By all means, let's have this debate. At the end of it, perhaps even Mr. Obama will learn enough to understand why the American public holds him in such low regard.

Posted by: dknight12345 | September 10, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

If Facebook and others can get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live, why not Obama vs. Frick and Frack? The networks should love it, guaranteed ratings hit. Go for it. Obama can pull it off I am sure! He'd just have to avoid being too professorial.

Posted by: stevek2 | September 10, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

What a great idea! Oh I would love to see that! I can see it now, that bumbling, mumbling, doofus Boehner, as Obama verbally destroys him, and as McConnell stands there with the deer in headlights look as he tries to slink away!

Posted by: sandnsmith | September 10, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

What a great idea! Oh I would love to see that! I can see it now, that bumbling, mumbling, doofus Boehner, as Obama verbally destroys him, and as McConnell stands there with the deer in headlights look as he tries to slink away!

Posted by: sandnsmith | September 10, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

This president/dems are the lamest and incompetent of all...
Constantly whine and blame anyone else for their incompetence.

This admin has complete control of the senate and house and so really republicans are irrelevant. But yet Obama blames a minority group where they have no power to implement anything.

We need someone to lead for a change...

Posted by: johnrick | September 10, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Dionne is losing it. Obama should debate people running or holding offices that he does not hold?

So we let political supporters PICK who politician debate when they are not running for office?

But to be far, to EJ, I must admit that I used to smoke stuff like that too.

Posted by: TECWRITE | September 10, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

It goes without saying that a democrat would want Obama to "debate". What have you got to lose at this point. The "Great Debator" just can't deliver or he would be called the "Great Deliverer".

Posted by: bobilly2 | September 10, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

America... all of America, has ONE President. Congress has 2 political parties, who regularly disagree on issues.

If there are to be debates, particularly in midterms where the President is not on the ballot, is inappropriate.

Let Congressional leadership debate as appropriate; but, since the GOP MINORITY has worked for almost 2 years to prevent just that in the Senate, I doubt they will consent to having a political debate.

Their style seems limited to making little speeches, and taking few questions.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | September 10, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

A debate you describe would mean absolutely nothing!! Boehmer and McConnell have their voting records for anyone to see. Obama only has lies!! We all see the lies and do not like them! There is no need for debate when Nov. 2 will tell the winners. Anyway, when did the executive branch and the legislative branch start debating? Obama had his chance when he was voting "present." He constantly has his chance now when he lies continuously. The only wellfare he is concerned with is his own. He gives to the union bosses so they will give back to him. What a crook.

Posted by: annnort | September 10, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me Dionne but when does the President of the United States have to debate the likes of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell? If the country really needs to get to know those two dingbats better, let them do their own horse and pony show without our President. Where do you get your hair-brained ideas, Dionne?

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW | September 10, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Dionne wants more talking from the teleprompter reading monkey? That's all Oblama has done so far and most folks don't care what he has to say anymore.

Posted by: mgrantham2 | September 10, 2010 10:52 AM
-------------------
mgrantham2 you are confusing our current President with McChimpy who is no longer in office but now lives (once again) in Texas.

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW | September 10, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

A debate between President Obama
against
Boehner and McConnell.

That would be overwhelming beautiful..

Two Wrinkly Moths
(one tan the other bleached)
out numbered by
One Stinging Bee

Let the slaughter begin..

ISA

Posted by: vettesport | September 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

what would glostick boehner and mitch mcbank know about?

tee times at congressional?

Posted by: xxxxxx1 | September 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@mgrantham2 - Who are you calling a monkey you ignorant retarded SOB?

Posted by: cholly85241 | September 10, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse


McConnell's a great debater and has slayed all his opponents in debates over the years.

Obama would be nostalgic for his debates with the clumsy McCain.


Posted by: Gidgmom | September 10, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Actually just tell me why our diginified President should have a one on one with this goof. Boehner would look pitiful if it happened. So President Obama is actually being kind to him by not taking up his ridiculous request.

Posted by: mJJ2 | September 10, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see a debate between Obama and Boehner. Invite McConnell too. I doubt if the republicans have the guevos accept such a debate.

Posted by: YadaYada1 | September 10, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Conservatives are hilarious.

Posted by: Amminadab | September 10, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Sure EJ - suggest a debate now ?? How about before the other two loons Harry and Nancy were voted in ?? Dear God man - where do you get your thinking? Bottomline - in Barry we saw the left's ideology and the american people have rejected it in the majority. Get over it....stop with your arrogance that only you all know better for us...as if we can not think. It's offensive that we in opposition are demeaned because we believe other wise.....EJ - get ready for November - a slaughter is coming - and it's against the left ideology....

Posted by: short1 | September 10, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

To mgrantham2. Wow, so the President of the United States is a monkey? Oh, just say what you really what to call him. I think it begin with a "N". What's that? Your sheet is muffling your speech?

Posted by: YadaYada1 | September 10, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Dionne keeps praising and pumping Obama. The king who has no clothes is seen by Dionne as a king is sartorial splendor. Dionne is morphing into Obama's Bagdad Bob.

Posted by: jkk1943 | September 10, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

If things don't get better Boehner will be the least of his worries. He'll be debating Hillary.

Posted by: termiteavenger | September 10, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

For a real and Dynamic Debate the Great Orator should consider challanging Newt Gingrich to a debate on any pertinent Topic for the Salvation of America.. and get the long overdue THrashing that might make him a better man....

Posted by: redhawk2
__________________

What? And allow Mr. Obama to make another old, white hypocrite look like an old, white hypocrite?

Mr. Gringrich has already proved to the world that he is a great orator, a great debator, and a great policy wonk. He also proved that he cannot bring words to action, as with his spectacularly failed Contract with America.

Nuff said.

Posted by: arancia12 | September 10, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The incredible thing to me is that voters are not demanding such a debate. If the polls are correct, millions of Americans are poised to vote for a party that hasn't outlined ANY of the policies it plans to implement. Who does that? Exactly how stupid and shallow has this country become??

Posted by: shstl | September 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

shstl - perhaps the same country that was shallow enough to vote for a guy who had absolutely no experience running anything?

Posted by: termiteavenger | September 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me Dionne but when does the President of the United States have to debate the likes of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell? If the country really needs to get to know those two dingbats better, let them do their own horse and pony show without our President. Where do you get your hair-brained ideas, Dionne?

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW

_______________

Best post...bears repeating.

Posted by: arancia12 | September 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

In the health care summit Obama was not only a debater he was the moderator of the debate. Big advantage. And Paul Ryan still took him to school. As for Fox News not showing news, during the health care debate in the House last November when Pelosi, Boehner and Hoyer took to the floor to make their cases Fox News was the only news organization (C-SPAN excepted) to show it live. So when the majority and minority leaders and the Speaker of the House make their final pitch for (in Boehner's case against) the most sweeping piece of social legislation in 40 years CNN was showing a rerun of the Situation Room and the self proclaimed "place for politics", MSNBC was showing a prison documentary. And the clueless kooks on this board say Fox isn't a real news organization. Laughable. CNN is irrelavant and anyone who gives MSNBC any creedence is beyond help.

Posted by: lure1 | September 10, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The democrats controlled congress with a Republican president when this economic crisis began and it is blamed on the Republican president.

The democrats control congress with a democrat president and the economy gets much worse and the Republicans in minority get blamed as well.

I think the democrats are running out of Boogymen to blame for the damage they have done to this country.

Posted by: sbdot | September 10, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Since all Obama can do is campaign, it's not surprising that his cheerleader-in-chief, EJ Dionne would recommend that he call for a debate.

He will get laughed out of the room.

I realize everyone is ignoring Obama right now, with good reason, but this would be worse. It's not true when you're President that "any publicity is good publicity."

As usual, I hope Obama and Democrats follow the moronic advice of lunatic lefties like Dionne and Greg Sargent. Republicans will do all the better for it in November.

Posted by: etpietro | September 10, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Remember when they did this during health care, & the Repubs said never again. They have no policy or facts to back up their arguments, only talking points. And it was Obama vs. all of the republican leaders.

Posted by: eks2 | September 10, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, Whats there to Debate? Boehner,the future poster child for Melinonoma prevention ,and McConnel, who looks disconcertingly like the Alien in MIB who lived in Sonny the Farmer's skin, would never DIRECTLY debate Obama. I mean why should the GOP muddy their position by having to relie on FACTS?
If the success, over the past year, that Glenn Beck, Sara Palin and the Screwball Tea Partyers have had with manipulating the mainstream media taught the Republicans nothing else this past year, it has taught the GOP not to be concerned with the truth. Instead simply focus on your message and never give your opponent the opportunity to question your "Facts" face to face.
Much as the Roman Circus was devised in the wanning days of the Roman Empire to keep the population entertained and distracted from the woes of the crumbling Empire, The GOP has discovered that the Media thrives on specticale, drama and pathos and is totally unconcerned with examining the whirl of politics.
The Media will provide, for instance, almost unlimited coverage to a trumped-up specticale in the Washington Mall as long as someone like Glenn Beck promises high drama and unlimited photo opps, but will give scant attention to a sitting President's news conference.
So, I very much doubt Mr's Boehner or McConnel will ever appear on the same plateform or in the same Media outlet as President Obama-Unless of course they are all allowed to wear Gladiator costumes or perform a mud wrestling contest in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial.

Posted by: oregonbirddog | September 10, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Debates would be fun. I doubt the average voter would realign his thinking which is already cast in reinforced concrete. Democrats could do themselves some good by playing rebuttal of tapes of Boehner or McConnell pontificating on what the American people want or don't want and what a certain proposed or implemented action opposed by the GOP will or won't have. Apparently, according to the GOP, any change at all in any sphere at all will have disastrous effects when it is popular among Democrats. For example, if you let Bush's passed-by-reconciliation tax cuts for the wealthy expire, that will hurt small businesses which is a job killer. The rebuttal would be that small business people don't make enough money to be among the lucky top 2% of earners and therefore the effect of letting the Bush tax cuts for wealthy expire is not a tax rise for small businessmen and will have no effect on jobs enjoyed by those who work for small businesses. Further, if you want an example of job killing policies, as Exhibit A you can see the Bush government's hands-off policy as money center banks gambled away their depositor's money and a long series of corporate empires gone bust for cooking their own books (e.g. Enron, Worldcom).

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | September 10, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see that but it will never happen. Obama would wipe the floor with both of them. And they know it.

Posted by: glenn113 | September 10, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

All the American people want is solutions. Well, actually, solutions that work. Debating the merits of big ideas is fine in a campaign, but at this point, Obama isn't campaigning, he should be serving our nation as our President.

In any case, I am still waiting for President Obama to live up to the promise of changing the way Washington works. Yep, still waiting...

This idea comes off as insider dreaming. Lets get real. People didn't bother watching that painfully boring Healthcare summit or the time Obama did a Q&A with the congressional republicans. That stuff is strickly for political junkies.

Posted by: funnystory | September 10, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see the debates or whatever it would be called but it will never ever happen. Republicans learned after their invitation to Pres. Obama during their retreat in Baltimore that they are not prepared to engage in debate or Q&A with Pres. Obama.

Posted by: rlj1 | September 10, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

What a dumb idea.

Posted by: JudyBird | September 10, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

What a dumb idea.

Posted by: JudyBird | September 10, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama would wipe the floor with those two idiots.

Posted by: TwoTermObama | September 10, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

the guy who goes on vacation all "recovery summer" and broke hisrepeated promise to have health care negotiations be televised on C-SPAN now swoops into town and excepts the minority leader of the house, who he called "bad for america", to drop his schedule campagining for literally hundreds of congressional republicans just so obama can wag his finger at him and have a megaphone for his double speak?

obama wishes he could make everybody believe this is '08 all over again, but neither him nor the house minority leader will be on the ballot outside of ohio.

Posted by: dummypants | September 10, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

In the British Parliament, "question time" gives the opposition a chance to hold the prime minister accountable and creates a running debate.
********

and where was this suggestion when they were ramming the health care bill down out throats?

Posted by: dummypants | September 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Messrs Dionne and Klien are desperate for a vehicle for promoting the political position that they espouse. Why? Is it because that they are noticing that they are losing the debate that is going on now? They are uncomfortable with the electoral process. But that is not a surprise.

Posted by: Crmudgeon
=========================================

Debate? What debate? Very few in the GOP have engaged in a real discussion of the issues for some time now. They repeatedly deliver their bumber-sticker opinions to the press and then duck when a reporter occasionally asks them to explain.

Did you actually watch Boehner's response to David Gregory's questions about what extending the tax cut would mean to the deficit?

Posted by: tunkefer | September 10, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

EJ has truly lost it - Obama got slaughtered in his debates with Hillary and would look the fool against MConnell and Boehner. Obama will get his chance to deate in 2012 and it will be fun to watch his vacant stare as he misunderswtands every question (his response to a Capital Gains tax rate in the Hillary debate was very funny). Anyway, Obama will get to discuss many things with McConnell & Boehner after the midterms when these two become the leaders of the House & Senate!

Posted by: Realist201 | September 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

So, Mr. Dionne, what should they debate first? The War, the economy, health care global warming?

The one question I want answered is what should the government do about war atrocities in Afghanistan?

A dozen US soldiers are facing trail accused of being part of a 'kill team' that allegedly killed Afghan civilians in an arbitrary fashion - and they even collected their victims' fingers as trophies of war.
Five soldiers have been charged with the killing three Afghan men 'for sport'. And seven more are accused of covering up the murders.

When is General Petraeus going to stop his death squads killing innocent civilians?

Posted by: alance | September 10, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Rule No. 13 in Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" is "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Community organizer in chief Barack Obama has been trying to do just that. His target is John Boehner.

Boehner is an odd choice of target. He's unknown and unlike the Senate, the House runs almost entirely on majority rule, which means the minority leader is powerless to obstruct legislation. Since much of the legislation Obama has pushed for is wildly unpopular, the claim that Boehner is an obstructionist is, to most voters, an argument for giving him a majority. And the president of the United States is the most powerful man in the world. He only diminishes himself by engaging in personal attacks against any other politician, perhaps excepting a serious challenger in a re-election campaign.

So why is Obama doing it? A clue can be found in Alinsky's Rule No. 6: "A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic."

There's no question that Obama's people are having fun:

Josh Marshall, TalkingPointsMemo.com: "Obama rolls out fully Boehnerized new stump speech.

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: "Was this just because Boehner is a local boy who happened to have given a speech in Cleveland a few weeks before? Or is this part of a broader strategy to nationalize the election around Boehner's neck? I don't think this would change the course of the election or anything, but if it's the latter I'll bet it's a good idea.

Jonathan Alter, Newsweek: "As long as he's venturing onto would-be House Speaker John Boehner's turf, Obama might as well challenge him to debates this fall on the future of the country. . . . Most likely, the GOP will decline to participate. Obama and Biden should then debate empty chairs."

Now comes Obama's lapdog Dionne. Dionne updates his suggestion by acknowledging that Alter had the idea first: "So that makes two of us. Any other takers? Maybe there's a media outlet or a non-partisan group out there that can issue the invitations." You've got to love that contrast between "a media outlet" and "a nonpartisan group." Once, the media thought of themselves as nonpartisan.

Anyway, look at the list again: Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, Jonathan Alter, E.J. Dionne. "Obama's people"--the community he is organizing--are left-wing journalists. Once, this community had actual power: "If I've lost Cronkite," Lyndon B. Johnson is said to have lamented in 1968, "I've lost Middle America."

Obama has been losing Middle America, slowly but steadily, almost since the day he took office, in large part because he has taken his cues from a community of notions whose attitude toward Middle America ranges from indulgent condescension to outright hostility.

Posted by: lure1 | September 10, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Note to Mr. Dionne: I know this is hard to believe, given the President's behavior, but the election ended almost two years ago now. The time for debates is over. The time for Obama to start acting like a president and not an eternal campaigner has long since passed.

Posted by: AnnieP1 | September 10, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Yes! As a liberal, I would love that. I hope it happens.

Posted by: bgormley1 | September 10, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

@texasnative46, I would oblidge you with dental work and facial reconstruction first chance I got.

Posted by: eyeofbrown | September 10, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

texasnative46: I wish you were kidding, but can tell that you're not...Even if your story is accurate, because OHB couldn't answer a question about favorite movies disqualifies him from being POTUS? And how many times have you actually listened while he articulately talked real policy (compare you know who before him...). He didn't survive/win debates with Hillary Clinton and John McCain by sucking on his thumb.

Posted by: scottcarlson1218 | September 10, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Actually, if a debate is scheduled between President Obama and John Boehner, I will have to cry a little for Boehner. The guy will get creamed. If he even opens his mouth, he will seem just plain old, garden variety dull and silly both. But it is a dream to think about that debate. Still, the thought of no face coloring is very intriguing.

Posted by: mJJ2 | September 10, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Before a debate can take place Obama has to take a course in learning how to keep his mouth shut when others are speaking and learning to listen. Obama doesn't know how to do either so a debate is out of the question. Beside, how can Obama debate anyone, isn't he always right. Isn't a debate a contradiction of Obama being always right about everything.

Posted by: houstonian | September 10, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

President Obama should debate Canadate Obama.

Posted by: sam51 | September 11, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Yep, he should debate Newt. Ground rules. Both have to answer (not typical pol Non-answer) each Q. If one refuses to answer he is auto disqualified and physically thrown off the stage.

Posted by: illogicbuster | September 11, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

When someone says, "You need" to do something, or "you should" debate, what it is really saying, or what EJ is saying here is "Obama, because I am a leftist shill for you, "I need you to debate these people." This isn't about you EJ. Get over yourself.

Posted by: kurttj2002 | September 11, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

scottcarlson1218,

obviously ANYBODY who can WIN the election & meets the minimum qualifications for office CAN be POTUS.

BUT that isn't the RIGHT question here. instead, the question SHOULD be is BHO smart enough to do a creditable job as POTUS. = based on my personal observation, BHO is UNABLE to think intelligently, unless "his handlers" have told him WHAT to SAY. - he is NO different than "the talking heads" of TV "news" who simply READ what has been given them by others.

as for debating HRC & McCain, may i simply suggest that had he NOT known what the questions were before the debate, that he couldn't have been able to do anything more than spew meaningless platitudes.
(in fairness, the other two candidates ALSO were briefed on what questions would be asked! = didn't know that, did you?)

further, the ability to parrot lines that you have been briefed upon is WORTHLESS if you cannot understand the information that you were rehearsed on!

as for the accurate portrayal of BHO & the child's question, that i related: as the father of two girls of about the same age, he should have been able to "hit that one over the fence", without even thinking.
(i'm running for NO office but i could have given the little girl an intelligent answer. couldn't YOU?)

it comes down to this: ANYBODY who could not answer such a simple/EASY/friendly question from a child is a DUNCE, a FOOL & is a source of HUMILIATION as POTUS to EVERY American.

IF "the annointed one" is the best that we can find to be POTUS, we're in SERIOUS trouble as a free society!

just my opinion.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 11, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

eyeofbrown,

you are evidently so ignorant & "empty between the ears" that you cannot even threaten me for stating my opinion, without making a DUMB error of grammar & spelling. ====> obviously you are the PERFECT Obama voter!

was third grade your best five years of "gubmint apruvd publick screwl edumaksun"?

LAUGHING AT YOU, DUMB-bunny. - you're just PITIFUL.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 11, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

First off, I don't believe the two clowns - mcconnell and boehner would agree. Remember how poorly their party did the during the last televised meeting with the republicans - Obama trashed them all, and boehner and mcconnell didn't have the courage to speak up then, they certainly wouldn't now. I honestly don't believe they have the comprehension on the issues neccessary to participate in an actual debate. They've spent the last 2 years campaigning, not governing or legislating, they would fail. They are not serious about the issues, their concern is winning elections. And we all can see how well that worked out for all of us.

Secondly, theres no need for the president to lower himself to the level of these clowns - let them debate their contemporaries.

The first question I'd ask boehner is if we were to extend the bush tax cuts, why should we expect job creation this time? The bush tax cuts, as a "job creation" initiative, lead to the lowest number of jobs created in recorded history - how can he justify the $830 billion we would have to borrow from china and add to the deficit to pay for them? I want to hear the drunken clod come up with an answer to that.

Posted by: JilliB | September 12, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

"The incredible thing to me is that voters are not demanding such a debate. If the polls are correct, millions of Americans are poised to vote for a party that hasn't outlined ANY of the policies it plans to implement. Who does that? Exactly how stupid and shallow has this country become??"

Posted by: shstl |

Well done shstl - the answer to your question is Very, very stupid and shallow.

I have to say that fox, the stupid and shallow network deserves credit for their efforts. They've kept the lemmings frothing from the mouth over really pertinent issues (insert snark heree) like the 2 scary black guys at a polling place, all the while the republicans are planning their course to privatize social security and replace medicare with an underfunded voucher system - and the doofuses haven't even noticed or have been convinced to continue their support of the gop, I swear it's some kind of stockholm syndrome.

Yeah yeah, I've heard, Fox has high ratings. So does American Idol and Jersey Shores - ratings don't make it quality programming.

Posted by: JilliB | September 12, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

McCain promised ''Question Time'' in the U.S. Congress if he were elected President. Obama should just do that now.

McConnell and Boehner might be reluctant to debate formally, give the President's performance at the Republican leadership conference in January (http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/ID/218836), so go straight to Reid and Pelosi, organize joint sessions every Thursday, and let the fur fly until (and beyond) the November election.

If the President asked for it, he'd get it. And we all deserve to hear, see and decide for ourselves.

Posted by: Clear_Eye | September 12, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

JilliB,

your posts are a CLASSIC case of WHY the DIMocRATS are going to get SLAUGHTERED in about 50 days.- it won't even be close. = the DIMocRATS will lose BOTH the HoR & the US Senate.

SOME of the reasons that the DIMocRATS are about to become the PERMANENT MINORITY party are contained in your DUMB-bunny posts:
1. ridiculing the members of the electorate,

2. making WEAK/STUPID excuses for the FACT that BHO & the DIMocRATS have spent TRILLIONS of dollars (that the USA didn't have to spend) on BOONDOGGLES that accomplished NOTHING except enriching the DIMocRAT elitists,

3. LYING about the GOP's plan to try & fix the mess that BHO & his motley coven of BIGOTS, IDIOTS, corrupt union BOSSES, ANTISEMITES & COMMON CRIMINALS have made of our economy,

4. ridiculing moderate-conservative democrat's patriotism, religious faith, churches, traditional values, PRO-LIFE beliefs & support for the Second Amendment to the BoR,
(you ELITIST "progressives" are so STUPID that you don't even try to conceal the FACT that your sort of DIMocRAT thinks that the "rank & file" democrats are stupid, unsophisticated, bigoted & "beneath your notice". = letting us KNOW how you FEEL about us "regular folks" was REALLY STUPID, since the democrats were traditionally "the common man's party"!)

5. passing "obamacare", when over 70% of Americans said "NO" to the "healthcare plan", which they had NOT even READ, much less understand
AND

6. looking DOWN upon the people that the DIMocRATS would logically expect to support their leftist programs. = the blue collar salaried workers & "rural folks from flyover country", like MY family for example.
(fyi, FIVE members of MY family have recently QUIT their unions, as they will NOT support the "obama programs", the union's "national aims" & are SMART enough to KNOW that BHO & the party ELITES see them as "useful idiots". - those 5 men are now active TEA PARTY MEMBERS & will NOT vote for the DIMocRATS again.)

as a result the DIMocRATS are DEAD as a force for "change, change, change" & may well be just plain DEAD as a political party.

BUT there is ONE good thing about the modern DIMocRATS party: the IDIOT LEFT has made our county's TEA PARTY group, by far, the BIGGEST organization in our county. that is a GOOD thing for our republic!

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 12, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

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