President’s talk is cheap?

“Bottom line, talk is cheap,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said to Megyn Kelly on Fox News today regarding President Obama’s recent comments about the Republican Party. Pence expressed frustration with the President’s apparent double talk regarding the offering of Republican ideas.

Last Friday, at the annual GOP retreat in Baltimore, the President received what he called a “gracious introduction” by Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-OH), who offered a welcome shake with one hand, and a booklet of Republican ideas entitled “Better Solutions” with the other.

Obama said part of the reason he accepted the Republican’s invitation was “to speak with” and “not just to” them, and began by validating the democratic exchange of ideas as a “necessity”. He verified his receipt of the Republican document by holding it up and saying, “I want you to challenge my ideas, and I guarantee you after reading this I may challenge a few of yours.” “I want us to have a constructive debate.”

Later Obama would add, “I will eagerly look at the ideas in “Better Solutions” on the healthcare front.” Yet despite his seeming openness to the Republicans’ “Better Solutions,” the President immediately mixed his message with discourse implying Republicans were satisfied with the current health insurance system. But Obama went on to refute his own words by then touting the many Republican ideas that he claims he has already accepted and incorporated in the proposed healthcare reform.

Last Friday, President Obama clearly communicated his knowledge of Republican ideas. Yet this Tuesday he changed his tune. At a New Hampshire town hall meeting, the President stood before a partisan audience and said: “What I’ve done is I’ve said to the Republicans, “Show me what you’ve got”. You’ve been sitting on the sidelines criticizing what we’re proposing.” And then “Here’s my thing: You got a better idea? Bring it on.”

Today, the GOP Leader Blog states, “Incredibly, at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire just yesterday, President Obama was back to peddling the same old myth that Republicans are the party of “no ideas.””

C-Span’s footage of the President’s Baltimore comments clearly shows that the Republicans think they do have “Better Solutions”, and the President accepted a copy of them and promised to look them over. Either he forgot, or he looked them over and did not like what he read. It is doubtful the President simply forgot such an exchange in Baltimore. It is more likely he did not like what he read, if indeed he read the ideas at all. Kelly dismissed President Obama’s comments saying “That was just the President rallying the crowd.”

Our political climate reeks of selective communication based on the need of the moment. It would be most helpful to our country if we could pursue honest communication. Admit hearing, but not listening. Admit reading, but not heeding. Admit discussing, but not agreeing. The lack of honest communication often becomes the subject for reporting, such as mine, and more importantly results in the need for Congressional response and Presidential PR. All this back and forth wastes valuable time and accomplishes nothing. More honest communication would lead to more productive use of time and more fruitful returns.

Honest communication is hard work. It’s easier to stay on talking points – whether Democratic or Republican. It’s easier to skirt reality and speak fluff. And this applies not just to politicians, but to all people. We would be wise to heed the Old Testament words:

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

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