I have to say I am a bit puzzled by the rending of garments by some Obama supporters over his appearance on Fox News - where he did, um, what he has been doing in this entire primary campaign - namely, legitimize some right-wing ideas, portray Republicans in good light (in some cases) and pander to Republicans as much as he could to win over independent and Republican voters. On the flip side, the arguments that some Obama supporters are using to justify Sen. Obama's Fox News appearance and remarks are rather amusing (not trying to take credit here but it is funny how some ideas catch on when those are considered inapplicable when it comes to Sen. Clinton).
Should we be upset about the Obama campaign's falsehood that he was going to "take Fox on"? Matt Stoller says yes. While I agree with Matt in general that we should call out candidates if they lie to us, in my experience all politicians "fib" (or "spin") now and then and if we set such a high bar we'll be out of candidates in a hurry. So, I am frankly not as perturbed by Matt or Markos on that. The more substantive critique is that during the Fox interview Sen. Obama - who previously declared that he doesn't read blogs - appeared almost proud of his vote in favor of Orwellian "tort reform" (the "Class Action Fairness Act") and of his criticism of Daily Kos readers for their valid criticism of Democrats who voted in favor of John Roberts as SCOTUS Chief Justice. I've discussed that before - after all Sen. Obama also proudly displayed on his own website an article that included this snippet (emphasis mine):
It was the fall of 2005, and the celebrated young senator -- still new to Capitol Hill but aware of his prospects for higher office -- was thinking about voting to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice. Talking with his aides, the Illinois Democrat expressed admiration for Roberts's intellect. Besides, Obama said, if he were president he wouldn't want his judicial nominees opposed simply on ideological grounds.
And then Rouse, his chief of staff, spoke up. This was no Harvard moot-court exercise, he said. If Obama voted for Roberts, Rouse told him, people would remind him of that every time the Supreme Court issued another conservative ruling, something that could cripple a future presidential run. Obama took it in. And when the roll was called, he voted no.
Look, I am disappointed by both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama for legitimizing Fox News, but his campaign's falsehoods about "taking on" Fox are definitely less important than falsehoods or statements about universal healthcare and other matters. If we want to stop legitimizing propaganda outlets, Fox News is not the only one we should be concerned about. MSNBC would be another prime example (among many) of media outlets that should not be legitimized - so, let's not get carried away with this criticism of Sen. Obama.
At the end of the day, there was one aspect of Greg Sargent's post at TPM Election Central prior to Sen. Obama's appearance that was correct: this appearance will help Sen. Obama somewhat (with voters who are not part of the activist Democratic base). Not to mention, Chris Wallace is the same guy who was "upset" when his colleagues were criticizing Sen. Obama not too long ago - so I hardly expected a real pow-wow of any kind. So, anyone who really expected Obama to "take Fox on" has simply been living in a cave over the past year. Given where we are in this campaign and the tough race ahead of us in the Fall, I think there are more important issues that progressives should be holding both the remaining candidates accountable to than appearances on Fox News.
P.S. Bonddad, you've done some great work over the years, but come on, this is going too far. Seriously.