Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thoughts on Obama's Latest Appearance on 60 Minutes

Tonight, 60 Minutes aired what seemed like its 190,653rd interview with President Obama.

He's on so often they should make him a special correspondent.

President Obama both came across as both evasive and defensive. He did not answer Kroft when he asked him if there were enough votes in Congress to get a health care bill passed. He was also very testy when Kroft reminded him he had effectively nationalized the banking and automobile industries. I also thought he was disingenuous in saying he had tried to work with Republicans with regard to health care reform.

But perhaps the segment of the interview I found most annoying was on the matter of civility in Washington in the context of Rep. Joe Wilson's interjection during his speech before Congress a few days ago:

KROFT: Do you think that Congressman Wilson should be rebuked? There was talk about that today, and now he's claiming that he is a victim. That he's being attacked.

OBAMA: (LAUGHS) But see, this is part of what happens. I mean, it becomes a big circus instead of us focusing on health care.

KROFT: I think Bob Schieffer's point was that, I think he thought that…in some ways, this debate has brought out the worst in us.

OBAMA: Well…

KROFT: Not the best.

OBAMA: …well, I think you've got a convergence of things. Look, worst recession since the Great Depression. People feeling anxious. I think we're debating something that has always been a source of controversy, and that's not just health care, but also the structure, and the size, and the role of government. That's something that basically defines the left and the right in this country. And so, extremes on both sides get very agitated about that issue.

I will also say that in the era of 24-hour cable news cycles that the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention. And so, one of the things I'm trying to figure out is, how can we make sure that civility is interesting. And, you know, hopefully, I will be a good model for the fact that, you know, you don't have to yell and holler to make your point, and to be passionate about your position.

KROFT: So, your goal to bring civility back to Washington is still a work in progress?

OBAMA: It's still a work in progress. No doubt about it.

Please be serious. There were a hundred Joe Wilsons during some of President Bush's later State of the Union addresses. I don't recall anyone in the liberal media bemoaning the loss of civility in Washington.

But more to the point President Obama is hardly in any position to lecture anyone on civility. Particularly when he accuses those who criticize his health care policies as liars, as tellers of tall tales and of bearing false witness. Let us also not forget his threat to call out those who he deems to be liars, tellers of tall tales and bearers of false witness for daring to speak out against him and his health care policies. President Obama's voice might be neither loud nor shrill but it is every bit as uncivil.

No comments: