Saturday, February 17, 2007

# Posted 1:07 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANOTHER POST NOT ABOUT ISRAEL...but still about Meet the Press. Russert finished off the hour with a roundtable featuring David Broder, Gwen Ifill, Howard Kurtz and Roger Simon. (No, not that Roger Simon.)

It's amazing to watch how these veteran journalists talk about Obama and Hillary. They are all acutely aware of how the coverage favors of Obama, yet they can't stop themselves from praising Obama and criticising Hillary. I listen and I think to myself, I'm just about ready to put money on Obama winning the nomination.

First comes Obama's religion:
MR. RUSSERT: David Broder, my ear heard something that I had not heard from Democratic candidates in some time. Up front, Senator Obama began his speech with references to his faith, and then came back to that same issue in the speech. Let’s watch.

(Videotape, Saturday)

SEN. OBAMA: Giving all praise and honor to God for bringing us together here today.
It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education that I ever had and where I learned the meaning of my Christian faith.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: What’s that about?
Well, Tim, if your memory were a bit sharper, you might remember how just after the 2005 election everyone was talking about Tim Kaine broke the Democratic mold by focusing on his personal religion. Joe Lieberman also talks a lot about being a Buddhist or Hindu or whatever he is.

On a related note, Hillary must be quite mad, since she has also tried to advertise the importance of her faith (for example in her autobiography), but never gets any credit for it. For that matter, Russert ought to remember how Bill Clinton constantly invoked God as president.

What's going on here, in part, is that Obama simply comes off as more sincere. I think it's very important that he used the word "Christian". This is mostly a guess, but I think that voters who care about a pol's religion are suspicious of those who subscribe to some vague, unidentified faith that involves a pleasant God everyone can be friends with. Thus, the fact that Lieberman is specifically Jewish made his faith seem more real.

What I'm curious to know is whether Obama will talk the next step and explicitly refer not just to Christianity, but to Jesus.

The next question about Obama is how he can explain away his explicit commitments both after his election to the Senate and then in early 2006 not to run for President in 2008. Here's how Obama explained the change to Russert late last year:
SEN. OBAMA: Well, the—that is how I was thinking at that time, and, and—you know, I, I don’t want to be coy about this—given the responses that I’ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility.

MR. RUSSERT: But it’s fair to say you’re thinking about running for president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: It’s fair, yes.
Insisting that he didn't want to be coy was the perfect move. Journalists love self-awareness. Did Obama provide any real explanation of why his solemn commitment to serve the voters of Illinois was no longer valid? No, but he won over Tim Russert anyhow:
MR. RUSSERT: Howard Kurtz, no parsing, no denial, saying in his own words, not being coy, that’s somewhat unusual for many politicians when they clearly change their mind.
And then this:
MR. RUSSERT: Is that how [Obama]’s going to run, as the outsider?

MR. SIMON: Yes. He is not the candidate of Washington. Hillary Clinton is the candidate of Washington. That’s his message.
None of the panelists disagreed. In contrast, here's what they said about Hillary:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to Hillary Clinton. She was in New Hampshire yesterday. Her first appearance there in 10 years. And it was quite striking how many times she was asked about her position on the war. Here she is being asked in Berlin, New Hampshire, by a voter, a very serious question. Let’s watch that exchange.


Unidentified Man: And I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake. And the reason I want to ask is because a lot of other senators have already done so, including some Republicans and including one of your competitors, Senator Edwards. And the reason I ask personally is because I, and I think a lot of other Democratic primary voters, until we hear you say that, we’re not going to hear all these other great things you’re saying.

SEN: HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that, knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it. But I also—and, I mean, obviously you have to weigh everything as you make your decision. I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.

(End videotape)
If you listen to the MT podcast, you will hear a few tepid applause for Hillary. Being anti-Bush is not enough. The primary voters want an anti-war candidate.

Here's how the roundtable analyzed the situation:
MR. SIMON: It’s dead serious. The questions come because she refuses to make Iraq part of her stump speech. And I think, and many disagree with me, that her current position not to apologize, not to say it was a mistake, is an untenable position for her...

MR. BRODER: A reporter from The Post, Chris Cillizza, who was up there, reported that the man who asked Senator Clinton that question said afterwards, “I’m not satisfied with that answer, and I can’t vote for her until she gives me a better answer.”

MR. RUSSERT: Howie Kurtz:

MR. KURTZ: Tim, it also feeds the image that the many journalists have of Senator Clinton as being a kind of a cold and calculating and triangulating politician.
What has the poor woman done to deserve all this?

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(4) opinions -- Add your opinion

I dare say trhat some of them suspect that she's a crook.
So let me get this straight. It's ok for Democrats to invoke god and faith, but not Republicans? Or is it that we just wink and nod knowing that the Democrats only go to church for appearances, but those Republicans actually BELIEVE in their faith. Personally I'd rather no politician utter any word about their faith, or anyone elses, however the double standard the media applies towards Republicans and Democrats regarding faith drives me nuts.
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