PROPO'S BEFORE OPPO'S

I have been ruminating the last couple of days on Barack Obama’s dinner party with conservative commentators, hosted by George Will earlier this week.

I don’t mind that Obama is trying to disarm his critics. If a dinner causes the conservative journalists in attendance to pull even a few punches, or even cheer the occasional Obama decision, great. I also understand the desire to be the president of “all the people.” That’s noble. And I respect the fact that, as EJ Dionne argued in yesterday's WaPo, Obama is confident enough to spar intellectually with smart people of differing philosophical views.

But my worry is that Obama will succumb to the (Bill) Clintonian penchant for worrying about detractors and foes, before considering supporters and allies. Being inclusive and trying to listen to one’s critics is fine. But you can’t win over anybody, and there is vanity in believing that yes, you can.

Opponents should have a voice, but proponents should come first.

--Tom Schaller

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