Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 9, 2010

STEPHANOPOULOS RESPONDS.... I raised some concerns earlier about one of George Stephanopoulos' questions for President Obama about nuclear proliferation. To his credit, Stephanopoulos took the time to respond and offer a defense.

To quickly review, the president sat down with Stephanopoulos in Prague, on the heels of Obama signing in a new arms treaty with Russia. The two covered quite a bit of ground, but Stephanopoulos specifically asked the president to respond to a childish, vapid quote from former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) about arms control.

Obama rightly dismissed the comments as nonsense, and said he'd rather listen to his secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff on nuclear issues than Palin. I went a little further and argued that the question itself was a mistake. In effect, the "GMA" host was saying, "Some conspicuously unintelligent right-wing media personality said something stupid about a subject she knows nothing about. Mr. President, how do you respond?"

Sam Stein asked Stephanopoulos about the question's merit.

"Whatever Steve thinks of Sarah Palin," he wrote, "she's a former VP candidate -- and potential challenger to President Obama -- with a strong following in the GOP. She made a pointed critique of a new Presidential policy. By asking the President for his response, I was doing my job."

Greg Sargent found this persuasive, arguing that Palin's "views do, in fact, matter." Glenn Greenwald agreed.

It's a fair point. Palin is a national embarrassment, but she's been a candidate for national office and, regardless of merit, she's likely to be a presidential contender in the next election.

For what it's worth, though, I continue to think the question was a mistake. Whatever one thinks of Palin, the quote Stephanopoulos read to the president was, at best, inane. No matter how big Palin's right-wing following, or how serious her ambitions, there's simply no honest or intellectually serious way to suggest she knows anything about this subject.

Palin's quote, in other words, was baseless nonsense. The president knew it was nonsense; Stephanopoulos knew it was nonsense; every reasonable observer watching knew it was nonsense.

Which leads me back to my original point. There's obviously nothing wrong with Stephanopoulos pressing Obama on the merits of his nuclear strategy. That is, of course, Stephanopoulos' job.

But there are legitimate, substantive critiques of the president's policy, which have been made by those who know something about arms control and proliferation issues. Stephanopoulos didn't raise their concerns, he instead went with Palin -- probably, I suspect, because of the shock value and political notoriety of the controversial Fox News personality.

Bottom line: yesterday was a serious day about a serious issue. The debate has sweeping implications about global security. If the president is going to respond to concerns about nuclear weapons policy, those concerns should at least have some merit, not get thrown into the mix based on the size and strength of one's "following."

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (81)

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Conservatives don't need liberal approval to take part in policy debates. BHO was clearly trying to deproive Governess Palin of her First Amendment rights by belittling her. Stephanopolous was right to push back.

Posted by: Al on April 9, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

It's important to point out, too, that Obama did, in fact, offer a response. "Her point is uninformed gibberish that serious experts don't think is worth addressing."

I think he was happy to receive the question, actually, because it gave him a chance to point out that her "opinion" is utterly without merit in a serious discussion. It is designed to piss her off, along with those who share her lack of seriousness. If she is the nominee, I expect this to be his response to just about everything she says. "You say this. People who actually know what they're talking about say this."

Posted by: Paulk on April 9, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

I think Steve is correct here. Gresham's Law of political discourse or something - inane commentary drives out serious discussion.

Posted by: Johio on April 9, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree with you Steve.

Like it or not, the Democrats actually do have to rebut the lies. Stephanopoulos gave Obama the chance to do just that, and he hit it out of the park. Wasn't it the proposed Republican platform, back when Obama was "dithering on Afghanistan," to do absolutely anything that was ever recommended by a general?

It's just too bad Obama didn't get a question about 16,000 IRS agents. Are the Democrats waiting for a gilded invitation on this one?

Posted by: 6079smithW on April 9, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

You're one of my favorite bloggers, Steve, but sometimes you just seem willfully ignorant.

You think Stephanopoulos's job is 'pressing Obama on the merits of his nuclear strategy?' Really? You really think that?

Posted by: gussie on April 9, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Any sentence including both 'Palin' and 'policy' should be dealt with by cartoonists.

Posted by: Monty on April 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Respectfully, I disagree---and therefore stand with my earlier comment relating to Palin and her pet "Stephie." Regardless of her being a political force, her comments had absolutely no basis in fact, and her ability as per foreign policy, nuclear proliferation, and disarmament diplomacy are, at the best of the best of the best, quite literally nil.

Stephanopoulos's query should, at the very least, contained an acknowledgment of teh Palin's lack of credibility on the issue. Until the media begins discounting the non-existent intellect of the jester brigade, the jesters will continue to be seen as "legitimate political entities."

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "That is, of course, Stephanopoulos' job."

Stephanopoulos' job is to legitimize Sarah Palin's "uninformed gibberish", in order to ensure that "a conspicuously unintelligent right-wing media personality" who says stupid (not to mention viciously dishonest) things regarding subjects she knows nothing about will, indeed, be a "contender" in the next presidential election.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

I think Sarah Palin is the most serious contender for the Republican nomination. And since campaign season is never over I think it is very important to make sure that the opposition's views are represented. And if her views are ridiculous then Barack Obama should use the opportunity to explain why his actions are appropriate.

Posted by: California Democrat on April 9, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

This poor woman is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't. (Opine on topics above her pay grade.)

She's like a Little League pitcher asked to take the mound in game seven of the World Series. Not Ready for Prime Time.

That she continues to offer her "thoughts" on matters of National Import only lowers her chances for a second try at the brass ring.

As a Progressive, I can only ask, "Please, Ma'am, can I have some more?"

Posted by: DAY on April 9, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Two thoughts,

First, Palin's analogy is wrong. The old nuclear deterrence model was like a kid on a playground announcing, "If you punch me in the face I may lob a grenade in your direction, and I won't care who may be standing near you."

And second, if Palin gives a speech somewhere and declares that the reason there is hunger in the world is that radical environmentalists and ACORN are keeping "free enterprise" from harvesting the green cheese that makes up the moon, will Stephanopoulos ask the President whether it's true that environmentalists and ACORN are the reason that we're not harvesting the moon's green cheese?

Posted by: SteveT on April 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The press treating Palin as a serious spokesperson/potential candidate makes her a serious spokesperson/potential candidate. They can't erase their own responsibility for making her out to be serious by saying, "We're just doing our job." A competent political reporter would be uncovering and reporting on her lack of credibility.

Posted by: R Whittaker on April 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget that the size and strength of Palin's following arises almost entirely from the fact that she is propped up by the the likes of George Stephanopoulos and the rest of the corporate media.

Posted by: Chris on April 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Sound-bite Sara" is on a roll. She is good at stumping speeches and sound bites that are caustic and filled with fear, hate and anger. The GOPeers are scared s---less of her and her ability to rouse the :disenfranchised" folks. Leaders of the GOP need to calm her down or else she will be the only voice of that party - talk about dysfunctional.

George and all other journalists need to quote the real political leaders and not the extremists. They are giving media coverage to the wrong folks. Do your job guys/gals - stop wasting our time and the President of the US's time with banal gossipy and angry dumb folks.

Posted by: abc55 on April 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, "big" issues during the 2008 campaign included whether Obama wore a flag lapel pin and what kind of mustard he prefers.

Posted by: qwerty on April 9, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Al actually wins this argument. We are talking politics here and what is logical, right and makes sense does not always --usually?- carry the day. I and a lot of readers to this blog would like to think that there can be rational policy debates about important issues and believe that in the end the best arguments--the more liberal or progressive ones--will prevail. In my experience that just does not work in politics and not just because the mainstream media repeats the nonsense as well as the sound analysis. Americans as a whole are not brighter than average and are rapidly becoming less educated than average. Throw in strong doses of religious fundamentalism, racism, tribalism etc, and the nonsense carries the day way more often than is good for the country.

Posted by: terry on April 9, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Benen is right and I'm glad to see his followup here.

By asking the question, Stephanopoulos gave Palin's statement credibility that it did not deserve. If she had said,'Obama just surrendered to the Russians' -- something that's not at all out of character for her -- would Stephanopoulos have asked Obama to respond? By his own reasoning, such a question would have been valid.

Standing up for professional integrity in journalism is something the left does far too little of. Kudos to Steve for doing so.

Posted by: beep52 on April 9, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Is this the same George Stephanopoulos that pummeled Obama with debate questions fed to him from Sean Hannity?

It's clear to me that Stephanopoulos sold his soul.

Posted by: Chris on April 9, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Surely you don't expect subsantive political discourse from the likes of Stephanopoulus, do you? After all, he works in tabloid tv.

He could have sought out the views of one or more of the handful of responsible Republicans that are left - say, Richard Lugar. But he chose Palin. Speaks for itself, and you're right to question its validity.

Posted by: Bluecrab on April 9, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Now, can we move on to the announced retirement of Justice Stevens?

Posted by: berttheclock on April 9, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

One of the reasons everyone's fascinated with Sarah is the fact that people like George Stephanopoulos are afraid to provide the sort of derision she deserves. Ever since the days of 'bittergate' it's been clear that the National Press Corps is utterly unwilling to note when people are simply being stupid.

Instead they like to actually stir the pot, by allowing the frustration sane people feel when confronted with stupidity become part of the story.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on April 9, 2010 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Chicken or the egg?

Why is Sarah Palin even in the mix as a potential front runner??? Because she's on TV stupid! Or should I say 'stupid TV'. Hey, Lyndon Larouche is on the ballot, or what about Ralph Nader..... they are as legitimate contenders as Sarah Barracuda.

So can we please quit this Kabuki Theatre.... you know she's dumb, doesn't know what she's talking about, is simply in it for the money, and isn't taken seriously by almost 70% of the country.... so tell me again, why she deserves this kind of platform??

Posted by: Mike Reilly on April 9, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Stephanopoulos was indeed doing his job. GMA is not there to inform the country on serious issues. It's there to get ratings to increase profits. No more, no less. A somber discussion on nuclear weapons policy is not going to help. The crazy lady from Alaska can. The culprit here is ABC, in presenting this 1/2 baked fluff as serious news.

Posted by: JoeW on April 9, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Considering the question legitimate on the grounds that she's a former candidate with a following only serves to further the problem of seeing all news through the filter of the "horse race" between the two parties. It ratifies the "permanent campaign" mentality. That is BAD.

That one of the "horses" in the race has the intelligence of a rabid gerbil just makes it worse.

Maybe we could try evaluating issues in our lives in ways other than seeing what posture the leaders of the two tribes have taken, and lining up behind them? What if we citizens, and the journalists who report to us, tried evaluating issues ourselves, and stopped listening to ranting gerbils?

And, even IF you grant that a political analysis is primary, must we forget that, in their most recent opportunity to register their opinion about who they'd rather have running the country, we Americans chose Obama, not Palin?

Posted by: biggerbox on April 9, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I think Sarah Palin is the most serious contender for the Republican nomination.

I disagree. I think Democrats, and the media, are far more obsessed with Palin than Republicans. Democrats, because she's a convenient foil, and the media because her trainwreck lifestyle is TV gold.

Her numbers have gone south even among hardcore conservatives. Now, less than half of Republicans think she's even qualified to be president.

She's really more of a political celebrity - more Glenn Beck than Mitt Romney (which explains why her rallies attract tens of thousands of people). But, I wouldn't confuse that with viability as a presidential candidate. I doubt she'll even run for president and if she does, I don't think she'll win the nomination, and in any event it doesn't really look like she's seeking it.

Posted by: m1 on April 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I TOTALLY agree! Stephanopoulos is one of the many media personalities who are responsible for dumbing down the discourse in this country, and this is just one more example. He might as well have asked OctoMom for her opinion on the matter too, as she has about the same level of expertise on this issue as Sarah Palin. And then he couls ask OctoMom what her opinion is of Sarah Palin's opinion, and we could all waste even *more* time that we'll never get back.

Posted by: Varecia on April 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Stephanopoulos didn't raise their concerns, he instead went with Palin -- probably, I suspect, because of the shock value and political notoriety about the controversial Fox News personality.

Dunno about that. Probably was more a mix of laziness and an attempt at balance to the interview. Lazy because he could have had a serious discussion with Obama about the legitimate critiques to the policy. Instead he just went with... "one of the most popular people of the party that opposes you says this... response?"

By raising the criticism in the manner he did it legitimizes Palin as someone who can legitimately criticize on the topic. Or someone who even has a legitimate criticism!

Posted by: JRinDallas on April 9, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Stephanopolous writes: "Whatever Steve thinks of Sarah Palin," he wrote, "she's a former VP candidate -- and potential challenger to President Obama -- with a strong following in the GOP. She made a pointed critique of a new Presidential policy. By asking the President for his response, I was doing my job."

It's a tough call. Palin has shown she has no depth of understanding when it comes to policy, foreign or domestic: zip, zero, zilch. But yeah, she ran for office. Is the president expected to respond to questions from loons who have large followings of loons?

Worse, Palin also believes that Alaska will be a "refuge state" in the End Times, believes ostensibly that the Earth is 6000 years old yet somehow we still have oil from decaying dinosaurs, believes that secessionist parties are a vital part of the political landscape, and that that being blessed by a witch-hunter from Africa is appropriate for a politician, among other fringe opinions.

Shouldn't Obama respond to those views as well? Why isn't Stephanopolous asking about them? By NOT asking he gives her a veneer of legitimacy she does not deserve.

And conversely, why isn't Palin continually pressed on her apocalypticism and the question of how it affects her views as a potential executive? Would she start a world war in order to force Jesus' hand on returning to Earth like Pat Robertson and so many other evangelicals believe can be done? Let's get all that stuff out in the open.

Posted by: trex on April 9, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

George S could easily haved framed the question thusly "Mr President, there has been criticism of this policy that ranges from the Cato Institute (who said XYZ) to Gov Palin (who babbled incoherently). How do you respond?"
POTUS Obama would then have had the chance to talk about the issues AND put down Palin. Sarah barracuda's prominence does require an answer, but in a context that includes some grownups.

Posted by: slader on April 9, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

It is somewhat disconcerting while reading the threads to have decide which is the more repulsive photo - The one on the right of the frog or the one on the left of Ann Coulter? Actually, the frog is not repulsive and its eyes glow with far more intellligence.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 9, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Is this the same George Stephanopoulos that pummeled Obama with debate questions fed to him from Sean Hannity?

It's clear to me that Stephanopoulos has sold his soul. He has the knowledge and skills to be a strong advocate, as he once was, but instead he went for the money and is now nothing but a corporate tool.

Posted by: Chris on April 9, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Mr. President, Sarah Palin believes that the moon is a shiny silver disk and that unicorns exist because they are referenced in the Old Testament. Your response?"

Posted by: George Steph. on April 9, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Any news on what Scooby Doo prescribes for Medicare policy going forward?

I believe Daffy Duck has some cogent, studied responses to questions regarding nuclear proliferation.

I need to go back and review Ishkabibble's multi-volume works on Soviet containment after World War II.

Posted by: John Thullen on April 9, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

It's not the first stupid question Stephanopoulos has asked Obama; remember in the debate he and Gibson moderated he asked Obama about patriotism and the Rev. Wright? About who was more patriotic or something silly like that? Or was that Gibson who asked? Either way, GS was involved.

Posted by: Hannah on April 9, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Whatever Steve thinks of Sarah Palin," he wrote, "she's a former VP candidate -- and potential challenger to President Obama -- with a strong following in the GOP. She made a pointed critique of a new Presidential policy. By asking the President for his response, I was doing my job."

Shorter Stephanopoulos:
It's my job as a political entertainment industry reporter to ask, "well some people say......."

Posted by: oh my on April 9, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

It is sad what has happened to George S. He helped elect Bill Clinton, and he was once a well-thought of spokesperson. He is now an entertainment reporter, gunning for headlines. And given that I've seen or heard this particular excerpt highlighted on the radio news and multiple web sites, his ploy worked very well indeed.

As an example of who he could have quoted instead, Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) actually sounded kind of intelligent debating this on the NewsHour show.

Posted by: Rathskeller on April 9, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

it is sad when glennzilla tweets some shit that puts him in the glenn beck "we are all that's entertainment! now" bull shit.

(but twitter is really only good for psychoanalytic literary criticism, and not substantive narrative -- as is the usual blog response to it, anyway...)

Benen is right, in my opinion, ignoring Palin and making her disappear out of irrelevance is comparable in terms of domestic tranquility as the anti-nuke deal with the Russians yesterday is internationally...

Posted by: neill on April 9, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

"she's a former VP candidate -- and potential challenger to President Obama -- with a strong following in the GOP. She made a pointed critique of a new Presidential policy. By asking the President for his response, I was doing my job."

Ron Paul a former Presidential candidate -- and potential challenger to President Obama -- with a strong following in the GOP and among liberterians and some independents. Additionaly, he sometimes actually makes sense and knows what he's talking about.

I don't see Stephanie with his nose up Paul's butt.

Posted by: Winkandanod on April 9, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with you, Steve. The whole thing smacks of when Obama was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the first reaction widely quoted by "the liberal media" was that of Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by: June on April 9, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Because so many in the TV media are such buffoons I think a lot of BHO supporters hear a question like Stephanopoulos' and reflexively hit the roof.

I think the reality, though, is GS was clearly lobbing BHO a chance to say what needs to be said about Palin, which is that she's an empty-headed loudmouth.

Posted by: mars on April 9, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Please, Lordy Gordy Grape! Please Sarah, run for Incompetent of the Untied States! Wear that evil black pantsuit again, it's so flattering and the color is so you!!

Posted by: Trollop McCain on April 9, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

but remember she can see Russia from her kitchen window while she cooks and cleans for her family what a resume

Posted by: iyouwemeus on April 9, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

While I understand the points of her having a significant role in politics today, I think it was a mistake for George to ask the question. Consider that the reason that she has such a significant role in politics today is that the media treats her every inane comment as a serious thought. George's defense is the reality of the situation, but he has helped create and helps perpetuate that situation.

Posted by: factbased on April 9, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

It's pure laziness by GS and all others in the media. A better way to ask the question would be to repeat her babble but point out that the terms of this agreement are nearly identical to the one Reagan signed.

That's informing the public.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on April 9, 2010 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with Stephanopoulos' question is that the subject of discussion was a matter of policy, but the question was purely political. Stephanopoulos admitted as much in defense of his question. He said that the question was important, not because it had any validity on policy grounds, but merely because of the political prominence of the questioner.

This, in a nutshell is the core problem with the media. It's not that they do a crappy job of reporting and analyzing policy (which isn't merely their job, George, it's their entire raison d’être!). It's that they don't even bother reporting and analyzing policy. The restrict themselves strictly to politics.

That's why the previous administration was able to sell us on a war of aggression in the Middle east and why the Republicans were able to stir up such vehement opposition to health care reform based upon such patently ridiculous and easily disproven grounds as "death panels" and "government takeovers" and "huge spending increases." If George Stephanopoulos and the rest of the village idiots ever bothered to report on policy rather than what people SAY about policy and critically examined how and whether policy proposals would work if adopted instead of just "how it will play in Peoria," we might have a moderately informed electorate and rational debate.

Nah, much easier to be a gossip columnist - it doesn't require as much reading!

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 9, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

George S. is not alone, the White House Press Corps does the same thing all the time. Sarah Palin tweets something from behind closed doors and the media immediately provides the echo chamber no matter how inane the comment. She is never interviewed or challenged by anything resembling a real journalist. (That is since Katie Couric in 2008)

What I would like to see is George S. interviewing the half-term governor and asking her to explain her strategy for the START treaty in more detail. As a potential candidate for the presidency, I would like to hear how she would have handled the negotiations with Medvedev and the treaty signing in Prague.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on April 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin has become an "expert." This is the age of reality tv news. Turn on anyone one of those cable news reality tv shows and it's the same "experts" expounding on any given topic. The national discourse is being distilled down to ahandful of paid shills with some sort of dodgy credentials. She ran for public office, so what? So did Sig Sackowitcz, many times.

The past is the past. No one is interested in anyone who can actually educated or illuminate a topic anymore. It's all personality driven. By today's standards, Palin is an expert on fill in the blank.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 9, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin is a celebrity, with about as much credibility as Paris Hilton. Sadly, celebrity is more important to the Washington press corps than things like expertise, insight and competence. That's why they fawn all over idiots like Palin and Giulianni. Gingerich at least has a resume towrds which he can point to suggest expertise, but it is his celebrity that gets him booked on all the cable news shows and the Sunday morning talk shows.

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 9, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Steve Benen on this. That question should not have been asked.

Posted by: kc on April 9, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin is the best the Republican Party has to offer. She should be taken as seriously as Newt Gingrich or Liz Cheney, or any of the other national GOP leaders. She's clearly at their intellectual depth, and seems to know as much about nuclear proliferation as Newt, Liz, Mitch, John, or Eric. (Honestly, did Snuffy have any good choices) I think the President's response was an appropriate, serious critique based on the serious observations made by Ms. Palin. Admitted, Ms. Palin's comments were probably a little too deep for most of her audience, but that's what leaders have to do sometimes, get down in the weeds.

Posted by: Scott F. on April 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sound bite Sarah and her enablers

Stephanopoulos is just another rodeo clown showing the bull some red.

Posted by: koreyel on April 9, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Palin was not the best choice available. The press doesn't always have to go to Republicans or people with wide name recognition...how about they ask a former secretary of state or arms control negotiator or academic anybody who has actual knowledge of the subject?

The MEDIA needs to look beyond their rolodexes and find some experts with expert opinions. If I wanted my cat's opinion on nuclear arms control policies, I'd wake her up and ask her.

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 9, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Different take . .

Why is George hyping an employee of his employer's competition?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on April 9, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I've given my two cents on this already in the previous thread. May I comment on an entirely different aspect: Congratulations on getting a response out of George Steph.

I'd say that indicates how much Steve has been gaining in weight. Not in terms of body weight (hopefully), but as a blogger who is being taken seriously by the powers that be. Nice to see a hardworking fellow receiving the recognition he so thoroughly deserves.

Posted by: eserwe on April 9, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's answer was non-responsive and contained two fallacies: an ad-hominem and an appeal to authority.

So the dim-witted hickbilly won that one. Again.

Posted by: am on April 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it would be fair game for some enterprising reporter to ask Sarah Palin (since she is a public figure)for a comment about her whole family's troubles with the law in Alaska - the in-laws the kids (now Willow) also her husbands DWI, and lots more.
Also when she talks about spending - why did she leave Alaska with a debt equal to 70% of GDP?

Posted by: JS on April 9, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK
This, in a nutshell is the core problem with the media. It's not that they do a crappy job of reporting and analyzing policy... It's that they don't even bother reporting and analyzing policy. The restrict themselves strictly to politics.

Chesire11, FTW!

We are truly through the looking glass. The only question is where the floor is - what degree of inanity will have to go down before otherwise sane individuals realize that the controls of the institution that is supposed to represent roughly half of our nation are being manned (and womanned) by the terminally stupid and the batshit insane (said attributes often equally represented in a single person).

Say I was POTUS. Say that I nominated my 11 year old daughter to the SCOTUS. Now, I expect that along with the uproar and outrage, the press would still attempt to actually learn something about my daughter - after all, it's at least possible that maybe she is a legal savant who brings a fresh and brilliant insight to the field of constitutional jurisprudence. Sadly, though, once they did, what they'd find is that she is really just a bright, personable, reasonably normal 11 year old.

In a sane world, it is at exactly this point that my daughter's views on constitutional jurisprudence utterly cease to be the story, for now and for evermore. What should instead be the story is an examination of what kind of reckless asshole would nominate an 11 year old to the Court, and what kind of feckless mendacious buttmunch would be willing go along with it in order to foment a purely political agenda.

This is not a partisan point of view, but simply a grown-up point of view. A whole lot of people in our country really need to grow the Hell up.

Posted by: Joe Bleau on April 9, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin is the death of America, plain and simple. Her nasally caw is our nation's death rattle. Gone are the days of reasoned debate, of substantive discourse, of give and take for the sake of the Union. Gone are the days of true statesmen and stateswomen sounding the call for "a more perfect union." Sarah Palin is what happens when a clueless spokesmodel with a simple-minded backwoods hyper-Christian megachurch profit-driven worldview gets a whiff of money and the feel for a megaphone.

She is simply the embodiment of everything we as a nation have done wrong from the moment the first settlers set foot on these shores. She is the greed and the avarice and the vile nastiness and hatred and willful ignorance and the killing and the neglect and the gluttony and the lies all wrapped in the cool cunning of the Star Spangled Banner. She will leave this nation in tatters. And she'll blame you and me for it.

Is it too early for a beer?

Posted by: chrenson on April 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Gee I have aquestion for you Mr. president. How do yoy respond to Sara Palin's assertion that the world is flat?

Posted by: Gandalf` on April 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Palin: "...It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face, and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me."

On second thought, I modify my earlier comments: OctoMom probably has greater expertise than Sarah Palin regarding the nuances and use of The Playground Nuclear Analogy.

Posted by: Varecia on April 9, 2010 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you Steve. What this country needs is a good policy debate because it's the policy that affects our lives. The job of responsible media is to illuminate these serious issues. Having the attention of the President, the proper thing to do would have been to ask Obama about criticisms from those who have a true understanding of the subject matter. When the media chooses instead to focus on personality disputes over policy disputes, the citizenry remains in the dark and become easily misled and manipulated.

Posted by: PS on April 9, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

That he felt moved to respond to your post means he was miffed and defensive. Good.

Posted by: MissMudd on April 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think the main question is for Stephanopoulos to answer is why hasn't Palin given him any interviews yet? or for that matter to anyone outside the Fox noise network. Why is she hiding her immense geopolitical knowledge and when is she going to answer some pointed questions which are not scripted? She complained so much about the Couric interview that one might have thought that she was asked what she was going to do about the nuclear disarmament in the world. Now that would be a gotcha question.

Posted by: roshan on April 9, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Different take: What good is having Sarah standing in her backyard and guarding us from Putin's rearing head, if Russia is our friend and is actually REDUCING its nuclear stockpile?

Posted by: Ohioan on April 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't give Stephi any credit for his lackluster defense. Sure, Palin was a VP candidate, but for what? Unqualified, ill-informed, she was chosen for her unique ability to whip the base into a frenzy. So, to infer from that that her opinion is inherently important is asinine. Once upon a time, journalists thought it their responsibility to protect the public from lunatics like Palin, to expose them and make sure We the People knew what the hell we were getting into with those who seek to lead us. Now, they treat their insanity as valid talking points worthy of further discussion, instead of pointing them out to us as the truly "WTF" moments they are. Pathetic and shameful. Ain't that America.

Posted by: slappy magoo on April 9, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this country have such a blithering idiot as a vice-Presidential candidate, there's the real question.

Yes, Stephanopolous has "every right" to ask what Obama thinks of the ravings of some childish lunatic, just as he had a perfect right to ask "does Reverened Wright love America as much as you do?" and we have a right to turn the country into a ship of utter fools.

So much for rights.

Posted by: UncertaintyVicePrincipal on April 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you Steve. This had nothing to do with the policies, rather the politics. So let me get this straight; Stephanoupolis is taking the rantings from Sarah Palin that he heard second hand(probably on her ghost written facebook, or tweets, etc) and is entering it in a serious debate with our POTUS on on nuclear policy. George S. is a disgrace. Do your job! He has added gossiper to his resume. Thanks for addressing this.

Posted by: wyomingite on April 9, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Where can anyone go on TeeVee or the Internet and not see the half baked, half term, ex-governor of Alaska?

Palin, Beck and Limbaugh dominate both left and right teevee media and Internet.

They only become irrelevant when the media quits reporting on them.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on April 9, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

So the dim-witted hickbilly won that one. Again.
Posted by: am

If you think that gibberish spouted by Palin constitutes a rational argument, let alone a winning one, you're even more stupid than she is.

Posted by: DJ on April 9, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Here's how Ron Fournier, Washington Bureau Chief Stenographer over at the AP, reported this story:

NEW ORLEANS — President Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are sniping at each other over nuclear policy — a potential preview of the next race for the White House.

The former GOP vice presidential candidate started the war of words this week when she suggested that Obama was weak on nuclear defense.

Obama shot back while overseas to sign a nuclear reduction deal with Russia, calling Palin "not much of an expert" on nuclear issues.

Palin counterpunched Friday while addressing the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Clearly mocking the president, she dismissed the "vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer."

A preview of 2012? Obama has not announced whether he's seeking re-election and Palin has not said whether she will run.

Posted by: Chris on April 9, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I want to know what Dan Quayle thinks about the nuclear arms deal, because he really WAS Vice President, and he's just as vapidly good-looking and almost as stupid as Palin.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 9, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

There is absolutely no REAL reason for the SCMSM to cover every little thing that comes out of this stupid woman's mouth.

Robert Reich came to our small town and gave a rousing, political speech on the economy, and it was covered by our local newspaper, but I didn't see any national media there.

They are HYPING her because it's cheap and easy for them to do, because they just cover national issues for the fights, and because they tools of our Corporatist Overlords.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on April 9, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"It's not the first stupid question Stephanopoulos has asked Obama"

I forget. Which ABC shill was it that asked about the flag pin?

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 9, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Wear that evil black pantsuit again, it's so flattering and the color is so you!!"

OMG, I completely forgot about that. And I was all het up to post my opinion that after seeing her in that Goth get-up, complete with cross and a bunch o' long-string pearls, after the black motorcycle jacket she wore to pep up ole' Uncle John, it's pretty clear to me that the Antichrist IS here now.

And it ain't Obama.

In fact, think about it. Christ being a MAN, doesn't it figure that the ANTIchrist is a WOMAN?!?

Posted by: Witness to Armageddon on April 9, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Here are my thoughts Steve. Was this something she twatted?

Posted by: Chris- The Fold on April 9, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yikes, the political industrial complex is really spinning here.

Steve, when you're right, you need to recognize that you're right. Despite what Greenwald and Sargent say.

Stephanopoulos is full of crap and trying to rationalize his and the industry's obsequiousness.

His defense rests on "She made a pointed critique of a new Presidential policy."

No, she didn't. She said something that popped into her head, or something somebody told her to say because it is the opposite of what Obama said. A pointed critique actually has, you know, points. A comment to a blog post is not a place to unpack this, so I'll keep it short: by paying attention to the stupid things that stupid people say the media impedes social discourse.

Posted by: Ed sanders on April 9, 2010 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Palin is a 'national' embarrassment".

Actually, 'international'.

Posted by: Ravi J on April 10, 2010 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like Iron Man. Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, et al, all know they can punk this guy whenever they want. Putin can't even be bothered for a photo op for this "historic" agreement. What a (sad) joke he's becoming.

Posted by: Ray on April 10, 2010 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

"...Palin counterpunched Friday while addressing the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Clearly mocking the president, she dismissed the "vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer."

Sarah, darlin,' the difference is that Obama is smart enough to seek the counsel of qualified experts when he's out of his depth, as he indicated regarding this issue. There simply aren't enough experts on the planet to make up for your deficits.

Posted by: Varecia on April 10, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Steve, and with the President's point: you have an intelligent point from an informed person? Great - let's discuss it. You think that the nation wants the President to worry about the uninformed opinion of someone who is paid to spout nonsense? Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by: adnan on April 10, 2010 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Why has no one pointed out that the President used a fallacious argument to rebut Palin?

OBAMA: I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin's not much of an expert on nuclear issues.

Fallacy: Argument from Authority

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the string of criticism has been out there among other Republicans as well. They think you're restricting use of nuclear weapons too much.

OBAMA: And what I would say to them is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.

Fallacy: Argument from Authority (again)

He didn't answer the question at all. Even when the interviewer generalized the question ("[Aren't you] restricting the use of nuclear weapons too much?"), the President still side-stepped it with another appeal to authority.

You guys really shouldn't be too proud of how smart you are. Mr. Obama pulled a fast one on you and you didn't even notice.

Posted by: Dave on April 12, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK



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