Obama should have granted an exclusive interview to Fox News much sooner.
I think the Democrats should have had a Nevada pre-primary debate on Fox News.
But no. Liberals everywhere screamed that having a Democrat debate on Fox News would only legitimize the channel that they deem to be a partisan tabloid.
If there were a Democrat and a Republican debating each other, and there was a perception that Fox was biased toward the Republicans, then I can understand the fuss. But when there are only Democrats?
How would a debate on Fox have been any worse than the one hosted by MSNBC where Hillary chided Tim Russert and Brian Williams for poor question selection and for making her answer the tough questions first while giving Barack an easy time of it?
How would a debate on Fox have been any worse than the one hosted by ABC, where the Obama campaign was aghast, again, at the question selection?
Were the criticisms about question selection even valid? After all, I can tell you what Clinton and Obama have said about health care, about the economy, about the war on terror, about Afghanistan, about Iraq, about our veterans, about No Child Left Behind, about housing foreclosures, about trade, about diplomacy, about the budget, and about taxes. Plus, they have legislative records that we can use to gauge their stance on a host of other issues. So, MSNBC and ABC both asked questions designed to establish the veracity of campaign messages, probing the sincerity of campaign advertisements, fleshing out the character of the candidates, seeing if the candidates had been telling the truth–in essence holding the candidates accountable for what they had been saying. What’s the harm in that? There’s a lot of good in that. Fox News could have accomplished those feats just as easily as the other networks, plus I think Fox would have pressed the two Democrats to more clearly define their immigration positions, which is something they’ve been too squishy on for fear of alienating either Latinos or alienating blue-collar whites when they are trying to lock up both constituencies.
Fox has viewers. Fox has ratings. Fox attracts advertisers. Fox is able to pay the bills and make a profit. That’s what legitimizes Fox. Sorry, liberals.
But the main reason why I say that Obama should have done an interview with Chris Wallace much sooner is that last night, on Bill O’Reilly, I saw that Obama had won a convert in the controversy over Rev. Wright. As I’ve already said, we shouldn’t attribute Wright’s views to Obama when Obama is saying something totally different than what Wright is saying. I, frankly, don’t care much for Mr. No-Spin-Zone, because I think he is overly subjective in his approach, and suffers from momentary lapses of logic. But when he rambled through his talking points at the top of the hour, I was amazingly in agreement with O’Reilly all the way through. What happened? Chris Wallace asked Barack Obama questions about Wright, and O’Reilly watched the interview. O’Reilly concluded that Obama was “a stand-up guy.” Those were his words . . . “a stand-up guy.” I noted that the interview caused many other observers, even at other networks, like CNN where Anderson Cooper hosted a panel of pundits, were believing that Obama really does disagree with the looped Wright rhetoric. There’s not much question of that anymore. Obama’s Fox interview achieved some good.
But Obama’s not out of the woods yet.
So far, the narrative that has emerged from the debates, interviews, and speeches is that Clinton is a feisty liar (Bosnia is but one illustration), while Barack is a transparent wimp. The transparency is a good thing. That’s what I like about Obama. But what Obama has to do now is to take the Democrat party by storm. He has to prove he’s a stronger, more powerful leader, and that as feisty a fighter as Clinton portrays herself to be, he has to show that he is the one who commands.
I realized last night that this Reverend Wright distraction will not go away until Obama, himself, pushes it away. Wright has begun making a flurry of appearances, heightening his notoriety, and sucking up all the oxygen in the room. Wright is clearly relishing the spotlight and is not going to relinquish it. Obama can’t afford to wait until this media frenzy over Wright dies down before getting the media to cover his candidacy on his terms again. Obama is already projected to lose Indiana.
I think what Obama needs to do is treat Wright as if he were Clinton or McCain in his speeches. Obama has said he won’t disown Wright, but he can still ridicule some of Wright’s rhetoric. After all, Obama says that he is a friend of Clinton, and that his supporters would embrace Clinton if she were the nominee, but that doesn’t stop him from ridiculing Clinton as an Annie Oakley wannabe. It didn’t stop Obama from ridiculing Clinton for hinting that the person in first place could accept the VP slot while the 2nd place person takes the C-in-C slot in order to unify the party. Obama says he respects McCain, but he’s given McCain a new first name–it’s not John anymore, it’s Bush. He can still maintain publicly that he feels friendship and respect for Wright while ridiculing Wright with wickedly funny barbs that mock the looped rhetoric. I think, if he does that, and people laugh are entertained by Obama’s repudiation of Wright’s rhetoric, Obama will have upstaged Wright, will have stolen the spotlight back from Wright, and can resume broadcasting a campaign message again. There are harsher, more dramatic steps Obama can take, too, and he should try them if this smoother approach doesn’t work, because he can’t allow Wright’s grandstanding to deny him the nomination. If he doesn’t act, not only will he lose primaries after Indiana’s, but he will fail to be acknowledged as a leader, and that could possibly lead to either a Clinton stealing the nomination, or McCain blowing him out in November.
Perhaps he could make an appearance on Hannity and Colmes and deliver his barbs while deflating Hannity at the same time. I’d like very much for Hannity to move off the Reverend Wright topic and move back to the substantive issues, perhaps expounding upon why raising taxes, even if on the “rich,” is the wrong approach to a mired economy. I think America needs to have a more sophisticated knowledge of the economy and taxes, but we won’t cross that bridge while we’re standing still jabbering about Rev. Wright.
If a Democrat is going to run as an inclusive unifier, someone who will be everyone’s president, then that Democrat needs to appear on Fox. If a Democrat is going to show that they are a strong leader that can weather the storms, then they need to appear on Fox, wear the storms are brewing. When a Democrat is going to exemplify audacity, then that Democrat needs to have the audacity to appear on Fox.