Bringing Civility Back

Barack Obama, discussing health care reform with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes (September 13, 2009):

I will also say that in the era of 24-hour cable news cycles, that the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention. I mean, let's take these town halls. As I've said, I had four of them. And there were people in there who disagreed with me. But all of them were courteous. All of them listened to each other. I kept on looking for somebody to yell at me, so that I could sort of sort of engage in these folks that you were seeing on TV. That wasn't our experience.

And if you go to a lot of members of Congress, and you ask them, "What was going on at some of these town hall meetings?" They'd say, "Eighty percent of the folks who were there were there to listen, to try to figure out how we can solve this problem." But you never saw those folks on TV, because it was boring.

And so, one of the things I'm trying to figure out is, how can we make sure that civility is interesting. Hopefully, I will be a good model for the fact that, you know, you don't have to yell and holler to make your point, and to be passionate about your position.

It's still a work in progress. No doubt about it.