From last night’s “All-Stars.”
On President Obama’s comments on Gates’ arrest:
Well, it sounds as if Obama was saying, “I can no more renounce Henry Louis Gates than I could renounce my own grandmother.”
He should have said, “I am a friend of Gates, and therefore I’m inclined to believe his story. But since there’s no way I can know what actually happened, I’ll decline a comment.” That would have been the right response.
Instead, the president waded into something when there is no possible way in which he could know what actually occurred, and he then implied–and he does this always cleverly and without leaving a fingerprint–that it was on account of racism, again, without any evidence.
It’s not what a president ought to do. I think, as journalists, we always add the word “alleged, alleged, alleged” in talking about any ongoing story about alleged criminal activity…and that’s because we (a) have to demonstrate and acknowledge ignorance, and, secondly, as a way of showing impartiality. That’s what a president has to do. His influence in the country is a lot more than any journalist, and I think it was incumbent upon him to stay away.
Instead, he developed the Gates’ narrative of racism, and I think in a situation in which it was at least, as of now, entirely unwarranted.
On the growing resistance to Obama’s health-care plan:
I think the reason the president has been so much in a hurry to push this before August is precisely because he’s afraid the more people learn about this, the less they are going to like it.
If you watch that poll you cited, 80 percent of Americans think it [health-care reform] is going to raise their taxes, 18 percent aren’t sure. I love that 1 percent who think there is going to be a decrease in taxes. I want to meet that guy…
I understand why the president is arguing [to the Blue Dogs]: You don’t want to weaken a president who was strong in ‘08, who swept a lot of you into office. You don’t want to weaken him, because if he loses on health care, he is very much a weakened president. It could hurt them in 2010.
However, these guys who already are in conservative districts have swallowed hemlock on behalf of the president on cap-and-trade. They have been really wounded on that, extremely unpopular, and it didn’t even pass in the Senate. So it was a wasted negative vote…
I’m not sure they want a second swig of that hemlock on health care.