In Impromptus today, I have a couple of items about Obama and the press. He sat down with 60 Minutes (in the company of Hillary Clinton). And he sat down with The New Republic. Maybe he should grant audiences to Chris Matthews and Mother Jones and be done with it, for the rest of his term.
Throughout his career, Obama has been shielded from challenging questions. So it was with Bill Clinton, though this is little remembered. Clinton is so unused to challenging questions that he went nuts one day when Chris Wallace asked him a few. The former president and the current president share this touchiness: They are simply unaccustomed to the stuff meted out to Republicans as a matter of course. Although the Clintons got a taste of this during the 2008 Democratic primaries, when the press swooned for Obama.
Shortly after this period, I heard a colleague say to an aide and friend of Bill Clinton, “Now you know how it feels to be a Republican.” He said, readily, “You’re right.”
There are a great many questions I would like to ask President Obama. One is (as I say in my column today), “Do you believe that the economy is a pie, so that to the extent one person’s slice is larger, another person’s slice is smaller?” This gets to fundamental beliefs. I would also like to ask, “You said in an ad, ‘Mitt Romney. Not one of us.’ Whom did you mean by ‘us,’ and who else is not one of them, or you?”
Sometime during the first term, I thought of writing a piece for National Review to be titled “Questions for Obama.” It would contain maybe 100 questions that the president ought to be asked but likely never will be. I wound up not doing the piece. But I didn’t really have to, because Peter Kirsanow did a running series of such questions here on the Corner. It was yeoman’s work. I hope he’ll keep it up during the second term (though I can understand, if the spirit sags).
One thing a Romney victory would have brought was the return of the adversarial press. You could see this, in the way they reacted to his comments on Benghazi: blind fury. This is what we remembered from the eight years of Bush 43, and the four years of Bush 41, and the eight years of Reagan. We will now have to wait four years at least for the return of the adversarial press. If Hillary or another Democrat is elected in 2016, eight years. If she or he is reelected, twelve years.
Just think! We might not have a truly adversarial press until 2025, or later!
P.S. You may remember what Obama said at the 2009 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner: “Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.” Oh, yes.
P.P.S. Obama once had a testy interview with a Dallas TV reporter — do you remember? For a reminder, go here. He did not go ballistic, à la Clinton with Wallace. He’s cooler than that. But, oh, he was upset. He is simply not used to anything but deference and admiration — even awe.
P.P.P.S. The world hates conservative whining about press bias, I recognize. The only thing worse is the bias itself. My favorite bumper sticker of all time is “KWITCHERBITCHIN.” (I spotted it in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in remote Virginia, back in the ’90s.) But in America politics, press bias really does matter. It’s uncouth to point out, but it’s true.