Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tim Russert "Chokes in Clutch" - Updated

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.


Anonymous said...

In fact Russert posed the question of Obama's most liberal voting record . Obama replied that except for two votes , he and Hilary had voted identically over the last three years and he then explained why he voted differently on the other two . Russert seemed satisfied with his subtile answer .

Anonymous said...

"What TV network "biggie" wants to be the first to ask Obama a question which might hurt him politically?"

An honest one. 'Nuff said.

JWM said...

Dear Anon,

I'm going to look later today for a transcript.

I'll be looking to see if Russett asked what I said: did Obama believe he deserved the "most liberal" rating?

That could be answered with a "Yes" or "No" answer.

If Russett asked something more softballish, that would be a different matter.

I'll get back to you here by 8 PM tonight if not before.

Thanks for commenting.


southernsue said...

what a waste of time. the people that vote for this fake are the same as the "kooks of 88"(perverts, imo)and the "angy afro-american studies group, along with the misguided "pot banger students".

Anonymous said...

John ,
NY Times has the video and transcript....It was Brian Williams , not Tim Russert that asked the question of Obama and said that his voting record was more liberal than Ted Kennedy's . Obama replied that his voting record mirrored HRC except in two votes which he then explains . Williams moved on to the next question . BTW , have you ever noticed that politicians rarely answer ANY question with a yes or no .

JWM said...


Thanks for your comments.

I hope anon @ 9:51 sees I've updated the post. I'm also sorry I didn't get back to the matter until this morning.

I was very glad anon @ 2:46 called my attentin to the NYT transcript.

Again, thanks to you all.


Anonymous said...

This is what makes you such a credible blog . You always exhibit such integrity and class . Good on you , Mate .