GOP aides telling me it was a mistake to allow cameras into Obama's QA with GOP members. Allowed BO to refute GOP for 1.5 hours on TV
Probably so. Which is why, even though it was fun to watch, it's unlikely to happen again. It didn't just put Obama on an equal footing with Republican attacks; in fact, the format forced Republicans to tone down their attacks and then gave Obama an inherent advantage in responding since he was guy at the mike. The guy at the mike always has the advantage.
This gets back to what I was saying earlier about the Drudge/Fox/Rush noise machine. Right now Republicans have a built-in advantage when it comes to attack politics and they'd be fools to give it up. A format like this, which puts the president front and center, allows him to directly call out distortions and lies, and rewards conversation rather than machine-gun style talking points, is something Republicans should justifiably be very afraid of. Unless they're suicidal — or somehow figure out a way to take better advantage of the format — they'll never allow this to happen again. Without the noise machine, they're lost.