Steve Benen points out the end of the Bush "Bubble Boy" staged "Town Halls":
At an event in Elkhart, Indiana, today, an audience member asked President Obama, "You have come to our county and asked us to trust you, but those that you have appointed to your cabinet are not trustworthy and cannot handle their own budget and tax issues. I'm one of those who thinks you need to have a beer with Sean Hannity, so tell me why, from my side..."
As my friend Alex Koppelman noted, when the questioner elicited boos, the president intervened, silenced the crowd, and said the woman raised a legitimate question. After addressing the substance, Obama joked:
"Now, with respect to Sean Hannity, I didn't know that he had invited me for a beer. But I will take that under advisement. Generally, his opinion of me does not seem to be very high. But, uh, but I'm always good for a beer."
Now, it's always good when a public official can defuse tension with a little humor, and I'm very glad Obama defended the woman's right to ask a confrontational question. But reading about this, another angle comes to mind: since when can critics of the president attend public events and ask unscreened questions?
Apparently, as of about 20 days ago.
You can like or dislike his policies, disagree with his governing philosophy, but it's damn refreshing to have a president who is unafraid to allow someone who disagrees with him to ask a question at a public forum, and who has the quickness of wit to respond with humor and grace. I hope it lasts.