At today's question and answer session between President Obama and his former Democratic colleagues in the Senate, members got a bit of unexpected TV-viewing advice from the Commander in Chief: stop watching politics on TV.
Perhaps he’d prefer they tune into WhiteHouse.gov?
The president’s advice came in answer to a question from Sen. Mike Bennet, D-CO, who is facing a difficult re-election fight back home and wanted to know what Democrats and Republicans can do "to fix this institution so that our democracy can actually withstand the test that we're facing right now."
"You know what I think would actually make a difference, Michael? I think if everybody here -- excuse all the members of the press who are here -- if everybody here turned off your CNN, your Fox, your blogs," Obama said, before being interrupted by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, who piped up, "And MSNBC!"
Obama, appropriately reminded of the network with shows more friendly to liberals, continued, "Just turn off the TV -- MSNBC, blogs -- and just go talk to folks out there, instead of being in this echo chamber where the topic is constantly politics. ... It is much more difficult to get a conversation focused on how are we going to help people than a conversation about how is this going to help or hurt somebody politically."
Democrats are worried, on the heels of the upset race in Massachusetts and in the face of increasing anger expressed by their constituents, particularly in red and purple states like Bennet's. They gathered in Washington at the Newseum for an all-day issues conference that included strategy sessions with White House senior advisor David Axelrod and Democratic strategist Paul Begala.
And among a number of candid admissions from the President Wednesday, which evoked an applause, this: "We've got to, I think, get out of the echo chamber. That was a mistake that I think I made last year - was just not getting out of here enough. And it's helpful when you do."
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, who is not much of a fan of political TV (he's actually a movie buff) and is, himself, perhaps the most endangered Democrat in this 2010 midterm election, apparently liked what he heard. Smiling broadly out at his Democratic Caucus, Reid joked, "Mr. President, you've told me -- suggested -- don't pay any attention to the blogs, don't listen to talk radio, don't watch cable TV. And I follow that advice pretty good."
But Democrats aren't without TV options of which Obama would likely approve. Remember, the President revealed awhile back, he's a huge fan of ESPN and the HBO's series Entourage. Hmmm -- contact sports and, uh, well, sex ---- perhaps senators should just turn off the TV. :-)