Among Friends

Earlier today, Barack Obama addressed the Associated Press’s Annual Meeting. That’s sort of like the Virgin Mary talking to a Knights of Columbus convention. The only way to read the transcript is for laughs. For example:

OBAMA: I don’t blame them for this. That’s the nature of our political culture. If I had to carry the banner for eight years of George Bush’s failures, I’d be looking for something else to talk about, too.


Talk about a receptive audience! Pretty much like the Democratic National Convention. Obama addresses “bittergate,” sort of:

I may have made a mistake last week in the words that I chose, but the other party has made a much more damaging mistake in the failed policies they’ve chosen and the bankrupt philosophy that they’ve embraced for the last three decades.

It’s a philosophy that says, there’s no role for government in making the global economy work for working Americans *** And so we should just hand out a few tax breaks and wish everyone the best of luck.

Yes, that’s the Republican philosophy all right!

Ronald Reagan called this “trickle-down economics.”

That’s ridiculous. Reagan called it no such thing. Of course, no one at the Associated Press challenged Obama on such falsehoods, which were numerous.

[John McCain]’s promising four more years of an administration that will push for the privatization of Social Security; a plan that would gamble away people’s retirement on the stock market; a plan that was already rejected by Democrats and Republicans under George Bush.

Obama has the reputation of being a smart guy, but “gamble away people’s retirement on the stock market”? How dumb does he think we are? Oh, I almost forgot: he’s talking to reporters.

The people I’ve met during this campaign … understand that we can’t stop every job from going overseas or build a wall around our economy. And they know that we shouldn’t.

But they believe that it’s finally time that we make health care affordable and available for every single American, that we bring down costs for workers and for businesses, that we cut premiums and stop insurance companies from denying people care or coverage who need it most.

Was that a non sequitur, or what? Not to mention the sheer, irresponsible demagoguery: the federal government is going to “cut premiums” and “stop insurance companies from denying people care…”! As though health care were naturally free, and it’s only insurance companies that perversely prevent people from getting it–an exact inversion of the truth. Which is not unusual for Obama.

We collected some questions before you came, and I will ask them. And I know you’ll be excited to answer them.

Firstly, can a Democrat talk about guns, God and immigration without getting in trouble?


Yup, that’s the AP’s idea of tough questioning on the biggest campaign blunder of the season so far. More hard questions:

MODERATOR: Senator Obama, today’s event is sold out. Thank you.
You have been drawing large crowds wherever you travel. What’s your take on the sense of excitement around your candidacy?

Next, the AP wants to know whether Obama supports the press in its campaign of anti-Bush administration leaks, many of which are illegal. Note how absurdly the question is framed:

QUESTION: Senator Obama, do you believe that a sitting administration or a federal judge should decide if a confidential source should be protected?

OBAMA: I think that that is an issue that should be determined by the courts.

Even really smart guys have synapse failures now and then. But whether they are deemed significant–evidence of stupidity if you’re George Bush, or of senility if you’re John McCain–depends on whether the people who attend the AP’s Annual Meeting want you to win. Here, Obama flounders for a while because he can’t remember how many states there are in the Union:

And I’ve now campaigned in 47 states, actively. And I think South Dakota is the last state that I have not had a campaign event in.

Now that doesn’t mean that I expect that I will win all 50 — or 48 states and Alaska and Hawaii — all 50 states.

But you won’t be seeing that on any of the comedy shows, because the comedians want him to win.

They got to the end of the program, and Obama still hadn’t been asked any hard questions about “bittergate,” or anything else. So the AP wrapped up with another softball:

MODERATOR: Senator, we have time for one last question, which means we’re going to avoid the “bitter” question, so you won’t have to answer that one.
You’ve said you want to reduce the number of troops in Iraq.

Can you imagine shifting a substantial number of Afghanistan — a substantial number to Afghanistan where the Taliban has been gaining strength and Obama bin Laden (sic) is still at large?

OBAMA: I think that was Osama bin Laden.



A debate has raged for a long time over the Democrats’ cozy relationship with the press: does it help them or hurt them? Some say it actually hurts, because they don’t encounter reality until it’s too late. I disagree. I think the liberals’ love affair with the press is the best thing they have going. Really, I don’t think we can even imagine a world in which the press is neutral between liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. It’s sad, but that’s the world we live in, and we have to deal with it.


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