In a "Special Report" on the president's question-and-answer session with Republicans last Friday, MSNBC's jock-sniffers Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow produced a museum-quality show:
MATTHEWS: Everybody agrees he could handle everything today. ...
OLBERMANN: It almost felt like watching the stories of John L. Sullivan, the 19th-century boxer, who would volunteer to fight anybody and everybody in the house and knock them all out. ...
MADDOW (imagining Obama thinking): You've brought a pet issue here, congressman, who is the ranking member of the Budget Committee, let me tell you 400,000 things about it, and invite you to continue the discussion with me later. ...
MATTHEWS: (T)oday showed me that we do produce probably the best candidate and best president we can in this system you can imagine in the world. ...
OLBERMANN: They had 140 players on the field and the other team had one guy and they lost to him. ...
MATTHEWS: You were so unbelievably hot, Mr. President! You blew away the other team!
OBAMA: Beat it.
MATTHEWS: OK, I'll go stand in my locker now.
Unlike the jock-sniffers, normal people watching the president's tete-a-tete with the Republicans only wondered why Obama always responds to imaginary arguments no one made, rather than the questions actually being asked.
That is Obama's signature move: Invent "people" who are "saying" ridiculous things and then encourage the audience to laugh at these made-up buffoons.
Since Obama's reformulations of Republican arguments are always absurd, no further response from him is necessary -- and none is ever forthcoming.
Thus, for example, Obama's description of Republican criticism of his plan to nationalize health care was that "this thing was some Bolshevik plot."
No. No one said it was a "plot," Bolshevik or otherwise.
Republicans' objection to national health care could be more accurately portrayed as follows: Obama's plan to nationalize health care was a terrible idea because it would turn over one-sixth of the American economy to Washington bureaucrats, who would run the system as competently as the federal government runs everything else, from airport security to the post office to FEMA.
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