Dialoguing with people with whom we sharply disagree

September 4, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

Barack Obama has often argued that the United States needs to sit down to talk with its avowed enemies.  This willingness to talk outrages many conservatives.   they argue, “How can talking to one’s enemies ever lead to anything worthwhile?”

Well, it might lead to increased understanding of each other’s points of view.  It might reinforce the idea that all people, even enemies, have a lot in common.  It might help to defuse tensions and avoid deaths.  Avoiding a war might keep a country from bankrupting itself.  Avoiding a war might allow a country to pour substantial investments into its people and its infrastructure.

There’s an old saying, “Show don’t tell.”    I was reminded of that saying when I heard that Barack Obama was willing to be interviewed by Bill O’Reilly.  Yes, it’s not such a crazy idea to sit down with people with whom you have disagreements, even heated disagreements. Showing up to discuss politics with Bill O’Reilly, then, is a good test run for what Obama would want to accomplish as President.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    O'Reilly has been gunning for an Obama interview for months. Recall that Hillary Clinton did placate O'Reilly with an interview when her campaign was still running with moderate success. Since O'Reilly has been demanding that Obama do the same for months, I'm not going to give Obama that much credit for showing up. It's a good thing he did make an appearance on "The Factor", but it may have just been to get O'Reilly to stop blubbering about it.

    On the other hand, Clinton may have actually had something to gain from appearing on "The Factor"- I can't really imagine Obama earning the votes of any O'Reilly viewers.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Erika: I think that Obama more than held his own against the bully bombast. I also sensed that there was a deepened understanding, and (dare I say) a bit of respect shown by O'Reilly toward Obama during the interview. If you're calling Obama an idiot when he's not on the show, but you treat him somewhat civilly when he IS on the show, it might make some viewers wonder whether is as "bad" as he has been portrayed to be by O'Reilly.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Wow, O'Reilly sure does like the sound of his own voice.

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