This morning, Sen. Obama appeared on Fox News in an interview with Chris Wallace. Wallace has been clamoring for Obama to make an appearance on his show for years, even starting an Obama clock that calculated the time it took before he agreed to an interview. At first, I wasn’t a fan of his appearance. Why should he give in to such a right-wing network that has tearing our party and ideology apart as one of its main goals?

But I read this diary by eugene today on Daily Kos. eugene skillfully explained why this was an okay thing for Obama. He/she didn’t like it, I don’t have to like it, but in the political dialogue that Obama seeks to create in this country, these kind of appearances are needed. One part of the diary reaches for a story in Obama’s first autobiography, Dreams from My Father, to explain why we need these efforts to bridge the divide and the good that can come from it.

In one of his autobiographies Obama recounts an episode in 1987, when he was a community organizer in Chicago, that crystallized this thinking for him. He had led a group of tenants to confront their landlord about whether he had tested their building for asbestos. Obama felt sympathetic to both the landlord and the tenants, understanding that the landlord was himself strapped for cash and struggling to make his own ends meet. Obama tried to talk with the landlord, tried to understand where he was coming from, instead of getting in his face with confrontation. And eventually a satisfactory resolution was produced.

That has been Obama’s way ever since. He believes that there are issues on which we can achieve positive, even progressive outcomes by going over and talking to the people we assume are our enemies. To Obama there is no downside to this action – if they turn us down, well, we’re no worse off than before. If they decide to work with us, wonderful. In some cases it can even wrongfoot the opposition by making them look like the uncooperative side, and makes us look like the better folks.

This strikes at the heart of what this blog is about. Sure, we all naturally look out for our own interests. But why not rise above our natural predispositions? It may be difficult, but if we all focus on confronting those awkward moments that loom off in the future instead of shirking away from them, we’ll be more predisposed to actually hearing what others have to say and using these opinions to come to solutions we all can agree with. In the end, this is what Obama stands for. And thanks to eugene from Daily Kos for helping me to see that Obama’s appearance on Fox News is not capitulation but an attempt to, once more, break out of the politics of division.

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