So says Micky Kaus at Slate - - - -
In Tuesday's debate, Tim Russert definitely let Obama off the hook on the issue of Obama's chosen pastor, Rev. Wright:
RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, "Audacity of Hope," you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness." He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell." What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?If Russert had broken it off quickly around where the boldface stops--e.g., "do you feel comfortable associating yourself with these sentiments"--he'd have had a pointed question that put Obama on the spot.
By babbling on about Jews and Israel--as if only Jews could be offended by Farrakhan--he gave Obama an easy answer that let him ignore Wright and the avoid the tricky business of distancing himself from his pastor. ("Tim, I have some of the strongest support from the Jewish community in my hometown of Chicago ..." etc.).
Like Andy McCarthy, I don't think Russert was consciously helping Obama escape. But there are any number of potential subconscious motives for Russert's choke, including fear that his image wouldn't benefit if he were the heavy who skewered the popular, charismatic black Dem frontrunner. ...
Folks, I didn't watch last night's debate but I can understand what Kaus is saying.
What TV network "biggie" wants to be the first to ask Obama a question which might hurt him politically?
"Senator Obama, National Journal recently ranked you the "most liberal" member of the Senate. Do you agree you deserve that ranking? "
Update @ 10:00 AM on 2/28/08: Yesterday an anon commenter called to my attention Obama had been pressed during the debate on his liberal voting record. Another anon called my attention to the NYT’s video and transcript of the debate in which Brian Williams asked Obama about his liberal voting record.
I thank both anons and am updating “to correct the record.” In this instance my question above was “answered.” I’m sorry if I misled anyone. The corrective power of the blogosphere is a great thing.