Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just how dumb is Tim Russert?

I have always had a sense that a lot of Tim Russert's questions on "Meet the Press" were idiotic and more focused on the headling-getting "gotcha" than actual policy -- or even politics -- discussion. But it was eye opening to listen to a podcast in the car while Alicia and I were driving to her family's house for the holidays.

Though she's moderately interested in politics, she never watches or listens to "MTP," and she was literally horrified at the questions Russert was asking Ron Paul. Not that she agrees with Ron Paul on most issues, but even as a relative political neophyte she could see that Russert was trying to nail him on obviously preposterous grounds.

That motivated me to just skim the transcript, now that I'm home, and think for a second about just how idiotic some of these questions are:

-But if you had a flat tax, 30 percent consumption tax, that would be very, very punishing to the poor and middle class.

That might be an interesting point... if Ron Paul was running on a flat tax or a consmuption tax. But he's not. It's not on his campaign website, it doesn't come up in Google. As far as I can tell, Russert figured "Ron Paul must support either a flat tax or national sales tax, since all those other anti-tax kooks do." Which is why Russert looked like a total ass when Paul replied "Well, I know. That's why I don't want it."

-[after a broken up discussion about how Ron Paul inserts earmarks for his district into spending bills]If you were true to your philosophy, you would say no pork spending in my district... Well, when you stop taking earmarks or putting earmarks in the, in the spending bills, then I think you'll be consistent.

That wouldn't be consistency. That would be idiocy. The inconsistency would be if he voted for big tax and spending bills. if he votes against the bill, but knows it's going to pass, why in the world shouldn't he make sure his district gets its fair share? Alicia was literally LOL at that one.

-You say you're a strict constructionist of the Constitution, and yet you want to amend the Constitution to say that children born here should not automatically be U.S. citizens.

This is maybe my favorite of the stupid questions Russert asked. And I don't think I could beat Ron Paul's own response: "Well, amending the Constitution is constitutional. What's a--what's the contradiction there?" But the best part is, Russert seemed to realize his question sounded idiotic when Paul responded that way, so he makes a pathetic attempt to clarify himself and make it sound like there is some contradiction with this follow-up:

-So in the Constitution as written, you want to amend?

No, Tim, he wants to amend the unwritten part of the Constitution.

-[after Paul said he thought the Civil War was unnecessary] We'd still have slavery.

As Alicia pointed out, we all learned in middle school that the Civil War wasn't fought over slavery (at least initially), it was over states' rights and keeping the country intact. And even if the Confederacy had successfully seceded, does anyone think it would still have slavery in the year 2007?

Which leads me to wonder... why does Tim Russert always finish his interviews by saying "Thanks for sharing your views" when he obviously isn't asking candidates to do that?

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