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The President, the Comedian and the Journalists

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by The Bare Knuckled Pundit, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. The Bare Knuckled Pundit

    The Bare Knuckled Pundit Active Member

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    The President wraps up his latest media tour-de-force tonight with an appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman". While I personally believe it diminishes the Office of the President and it's attendant stature, I understand the rationale behind it.

    Having lost control of the debate over health care reform, the President is looking to build on the momentum of his prime time address to Congress. In addition to this, Obama is trying to reach voters who pay only passing attention to the details behind the headlines that fleetingly catch their eyes in the midst of their hectic day. While they admittedly don't normally watch "Meet The Press", "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" or "State of the Union with John King", I still have to question the choice of the venue.

    Will the President give in to temptation and do tonight's "Top 10 List" in an attempt to look cool and hip? No doubt it would be an instant YouTube hit and Letterman and his producers would love it. But is the cynical comedian and his audience really a forum conducive to the serious discussion of the restructuring of 1/6 of the American economy? Honestly?

    Can Letterman control the involuntary reflex of his caustic tongue and resist the urge to use the President as his straight man? Will the segment be nothing more than the President chuckling and halfheartedly defending his opponent's freedom to express their difference of opinion even as the comedian mercilessly eviscerates? Will Paul Shaffer and the band punctuate the President's remarks with comedic stingers? Will Dave wander out into the audience to take questions for Obama? Will they be serious? While it will certainly be a ratings booster for Letterman, will it move public opinion on health care even fractionally?

    One wonders if perhaps Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show" might be on the President's itinerary for his next barnstorming blitz through the great electronic frontier. He did win the show's target demographic handily, after all.

    In addition to closing out this latest round of media carpet bombing with an appearance on a comedic talk show, what is most striking about the President's schedule is who was excluded - Fox News.

    While Fox admittedly tilts to the Right in it's "fair and balanced" coverage, avoiding it is a tactical and strategic error for the White House.

    Did Fox refuse to carry the President's congressional address live? Yes. Is it the home of right wing firebrand du jour, Glenn Beck? Indeed, Roger Ailes and crew are responsible for propelling the mercurial Mormon into the ratings stratosphere. Has the network been a friend to the Tea Party movement and the opposition to the proposed health care reform? Undoubtedly. Nonetheless, rest assured Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" is no Glenn Beck.

    Wallace, a Peabody Award and three time Emmy winner, is a serious and respected journalist of the first order. Indeed, he along with Brit Hume are the champions of journalistic professionalism and integrity at Fox. Moreover, not only have Liberal stalwarts John Kerry, Howard Dean, John Edwards and Bill Clinton survived interviews with the 34-year media veteran, the President himself has done so as well as a candidate. While Wallace may be dogged in pursuing an answer, he is by no means offensive, disrespectful or belligerent.

    Though the White House believes it is justified in snubbing Wallace and Fox, it has failed to seize the moment and demonstrate that "post-partisan" is more than a mere campaign buzzword. Instead of portraying the President as an unflappable leader who has the courage of his convictions, he has cast himself as little more than a petulant and petty politician. Furthermore, the President wasted a golden opportunity to unequivocally assure his opponents he respects their opinion and doesn't buy into Jimmy Carter's scornful belief that it is rooted in racism and not principal. Indeed, rather than stand in the political lion's den and bravely address the opposition, he has deemed them beneath him and unworthy of his attention.

    So much for the lofty rhetoric about engaging in a comprehensive and serious national debate. Apparently that only applies to those who are sympathetic to the President's position and those who prefer softballs to hardball. Don't fret though, Chris Matthews. No doubt you'll still make the cut eventually based on the former criteria. Patience, lil camper, patience.

    Following my Grandfather's admonishment to give credit where it's due, though, I must give George Stephanopoulos Bare Knuckled Kudos for his verbal jousting with the President over the definition of the word "tax". Not only did Stephanopoulos stand his ground, he forced Obama into a fiscally focused reprise of Bill Clinton's indignant defense of his definition of the words "sex" and "is". In the end, the usually cool Obama was left visibly irritated at having been backed into a rhetorical corner and reduced to a defense based solely on semantics.

    Well played, George. You might forgo holding your breath waiting on that White House Christmas party invitation, though.

    Now what exactly "is" a "tax" again, faithful readers?

    Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and we see what other gems lie hidden in the dog-eared pages of the President's political dictionary and voluminous thesaurus.
     
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