As I sat there yesterday like any red-blooded American watching the pre-game blather and eating food not prominent on the heart-healthy list, President Obama and the ineffable Bill O’Reilly (or is it the other way around) suddenly appeared on the screen. I must say that even for a hard-baked cynic like me it was a truly amazing performance. O’Reilly apparently actually believes that the job of an interviewer is to make his own views clear to the audience. Obama apparently believes that the audience comprises morons and that O’Reilly is one of them. And I hate to admit it, but for once the President is half right. O’Reilly—Grand Poobah of the No Spin Zone, always looking out for us—had not a clue about the actual substance of the topics that he raised. People shouldn’t go bankrupt because they get sick? Why, that’s the rationale for destroying the private insurance market (!) and imposing Beltway central planning in its place. People don’t want to re-fight the battles of last year? Well, the polls suggest that indeed they do. Obama has cut taxes? Who will pay for the spending binge of the last two years?
Ad infinitum. O’Reilly was utterly helpless in terms of formulating follow-up questions in the face of such blather. The larger problem is that he simply is not a “conservative” in any sense; he is instead a populist, always taking the position yielding the loudest applause. But as he labels himself a “conservative,” and is parroted as such by his opponents, Obama can claim to have subjected himself to the tough questioning of a “conservative” and to have bested him. On the latter claim, Obama is correct: With O’Reilly’s help, Obama made him look like a fool. And we are fools for failing to dismiss O’Reilly for the ignoramus that he is.
Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. Email: [email protected]