President Obama during press conference in Stockholm. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) President Obama during his press conference in Stockholm. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

President Obama’s persistent longing for a reality-based opposition interested in the lost art of governing was on full display during his press conference today with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. It was revealed in response to one of those “tell us something nice about our country” questions that foreign journalists love to ask the American leader.

“At home, you are sometimes accused of wanting to turn the U.S. into Sweden,” a Swedish reporter asked. “Now that you’re here…what have you seen? What actually inspires you? What do you want to import to the U.S. in terms of ideas for society?” Obama’s response was short, but spoke volumes.

….I’m sure Fredrik doesn’t feel this as he’s engaging in difficult debates here — I do get a sense that the politics in Sweden right now involve both the ruling party and the opposition engaged in a respectful and rational debate that’s based on facts and issues.  And I think that kind of recognition that people can have political differences but — while trying to achieve the same goals, that’s something that Swedes should be proud of and should try to maintain.

There’s really no need to “unpack that,” as the president is fond of saying. Surely, you know exactly what he’s talking about. But I’ll do it anyway just in case.

Respectful and rational debate is an alien concept to the Republican opposition, especially to those elected to Congress since 2010. Debate based on facts went out the window early in Obama’s first term. But in case you need a refresher, just do a search with keywords “Obamacare death panels.” Or revisit the debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 when blissfully ignorant tea partyers thought that failure to raise the debt ceiling would be no big deal. Or reacquaint yourself with any of the bills that were pulled or votes that failed on the House floor because House Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House leadership couldn’t control the raucous Republican caucus.

And waxing proud about “that kind of recognition that people can have political differences” in Sweden while pursuing common goals stands in stark contrast to what’s been happening in the United States this summer. At town halls across the country, there were baseless calls for Obama’s impeachment. Some still believe the president is a secret Kenyan illegally occupying the Oval Office. Others accuse him of not following the Constitution. They never seem to offer proof of the latter and refuse to acknowledge the proof that dispels the former.

As Obama employs a “flood the zone” strategy to win approval of a use-of-force resolution from Congress, his wistful response to the Swedish reporter’s question reveals he knows just how tough it’s going to be.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.