MSNBC to air special tonight on remarkable 'President's Question Time' with Republican House Members this afternoon...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2010, 2:49pm PT  

[UPDATE: Complete video of Obama Q&A with House GOP members now embedded at end of article.]

Via Olbermann this afternoon at dKos:

...[F]rom 8 to 10 PM Eastern tonight, Rachel, Chris Matthews and I will be presenting a two-hour special report on the President's remarks (and answers) to the Republican Retreat (and wow did it live up to that name).

We will be aiming for analysis and perspective for sure, but not to the point of carving this up into little soundbites. We will be running, as they say, "large chunks" and then cutting back to the studio to see which one of our jaws can drop the closest to the floor.

Parenthetically, I always said the actual "Prime Minister's Question Time" on C-SPAN was one of my favorite tv shows but the thought of doing an American version gave me the mental image of all of our politicians running screaming into the streets after the first five minutes of questioning.

Apparently that would all but one of our politicians.

The event this afternoon, where Obama spent an hour and a half taking any and all questions from GOP House Members was, indeed, remarkable. As I tweeted at the time, "Can u imagine Bush ever doing anything like that? Ever?!"

If you missed it, we'll try to get video, or links to it, posted here shortly. Apparently, tweets emptywheel, "so many people want to see Obama's GOP talk that they've crashed CSPAN's servers. Has that ever happened before?"

It was sober, reasonable, helpful and historic and Obama came across as extraordinarily reasonable and Presidential. It was little surprise then that Fox "News," I read, cut away from the historic moment something else.

[Update: Video of all 85 minutes of Obama's "Question Time" is now posted here with transcript, and embedded in full at the end of this article.]

A few clips follow below, courtesy of TPM's excellent coverage, along with an extended segment from their report. In one of the clips, for example, Obama tells the Republicans to portraying the "pretty centrist" health care bill as "some sort of Bolshevik plot"...

One key moment came when Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), a potential presidential candidate for 2012, used his question to attack the stimulus plan as having failed to prevent double-digit unemployment, alleged that the Republican stimulus plan would have created more jobs with less money, and asked Obama if we would embrace across the board tax cuts.

Obama said that the economy turned out to be even worse than was initially thought when the original estimates were made, and that this was from before he took office --- a subtle jab at the prior Bush administration. "We had lost 650,000 jobs in December [2008] - I'm assuming your'e not faulting my policies for that," said Obama. "We had lost, it turns out, 700,000 jobs in January, the month I was sworn in - I'm assuming it wasn't my administration policies that accounted for that. We had lost another 650,000 jobs the subsequent month, before any of my policies had gone into effect,t so I'm assuming that wasn't as a consequence of our policies. That doesn't reflect the failure of the Recovery Act."

Obama also returned to his point of how the polls have shown that individual stimulus components are popular, but not the total plan itself --- pointing out directly how this relates to GOP members of Congress. "As I said a lot of you have gone to ribbon cuttings for the same projects that you voted against," said Obama. "I say all this not to re-litigate the past, but it's simply to state, the component parts of the recovery act are consistent with what many of you say are important things to do."

"I am not an ideologue. I'm not," Obama also said."It doesn't make sense if somebody could tell me you could do this cheaper and get increased results, that I wouldn't say 'great.' The problem is, I couldn't find credible economists that would back up the claims that you just made."

Later on, Obama also said how health care reform had been demonized by the right, despite support from a wide variety of people such as Republican former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. "Now you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much, but that's not a radical bunch," said Obama. "But if you were to listen to this debate, and frankly how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot --- (scattered laughter, stray applause)  -- I mean, that's how you guys presented it."

Obama also said the Republicans had ruined their own legislative leverage, if they wanted to see their ideas incorporated into legislation, by being overly combative with the administration and agitating their own base.

"So all I'm saying is, we've gotta close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I'm not suggesting that we're gonna agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you. But if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me. The fact is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable with your own base in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've told your constituents is this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's gonna destroy America."

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UPDATE: All 85 minutes of Obama's "Question Time" is now posted at the White House website. The text transcript is here. It's now embedded below in full...

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