NBC's David Gregory interviewed President Barack Obama on "Meet the Press" Sunday, and a conversation ensued that would have been more fitting for a show called "The President Meets One of His Many Mainstream Media Enablers."
Let's take a look at just some of the exchanges and fantasize how different the nation's political and electoral climate might be if the liberal press were doing its job as watchdog instead of taking sides.
Obama said, "We're seeing signs of recovery ... in employment numbers improving."
Might Gregory have asked Obama how he can continue to put an unrealistically positive spin on such persistently dismal numbers? If this were a Republican president, do you think Gregory wouldn't have pointed out that the only reason these numbers appear to be slightly improving is that more people have actually given up looking for work altogether?
Obama said, "(Republicans) have had trouble saying 'yes' to a number of repeated offers."
Why didn't Gregory remind Obama that he has been the most intransigent in these negotiations? Why didn't he ask him about the Wall Street Journal report that he told House Speaker John Boehner he would give him nothing in return for the $800 billion in "revenues" Boehner had put on the table? "I get that for free."
Obama said that if no deal were reached, people might say, "We haven't seen the kind of deficit reduction that we could have had had the Republicans been willing to take the deal that I gave them."
Gregory should have said that if Republicans had accepted Obama's deal, there would have been barely any deficit reduction but that if Obama had accepted the Republicans' deal, especially Paul Ryan's plan, we would have seen serious progress on the deficits and debt.
Obama said, "Congress has not been able to get this stuff done — not because Democrats in Congress don't want to ... cooperate but because ... it's been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package."
Why didn't Gregory pointedly ask Obama whether his plan was actually to go over the cliff and blame Republicans for it? What evidence is there that Democrats want to cooperate? How could he claim to be serious about deficit reduction when he is demanding tax increases that would produce little revenue; is resisting reform of the main debt drivers, entitlements; is demanding authority for new "stimulus" spending and to exceed the budget ceiling unilaterally anytime he desires; and has resisted serious spending cuts of any kind?
Obama said, "I cut spending by over $1 trillion in 2011."
Why didn't Gregory laugh out loud?
Obama said, "I negotiated with Speaker Boehner in good faith and moved more than halfway in order to achieve a grand bargain."
What if Gregory had pressed Obama: "Mr. President, how do you define 'halfway'? Isn't it true that you've repeatedly rejected Boehner's offers as DOA and that he's been bidding against himself and infuriating congressional conservatives? What movement have you made, and how reasonable is it for you to be sabotaging the entire negotiating process with divisive class warfare rhetoric by obsessing on 'fairness' instead of addressing the issues that really matter — the deficit and debt? But since you keep talking about fairness, is it fair that the bottom half of income earners pay no income tax at all and that the top 10 percent pay an extraordinarily disproportionate amount? How can you possibly say they're not paying their fair share?"
Obama said, "I also have an obligation to middle-class families to make sure that they're not paying higher taxes when millionaires and billionaires are not having to pay higher taxes."
Why didn't Gregory tell Obama there has never been any GOP plan on the table proposing that middle-income earners pay higher taxes while millionaires and billionaires don't? Why didn't he tell him that his new Obamacare taxes are also going to hit the middle class?
Obama said, "If folks can't say 'yes' to good offers, then I also have an obligation to the American people to make sure that the entire burden of deficit reduction doesn't fall on seniors who are relying on Medicare ... (and) that families who rely on Medicaid to take care of a disabled child aren't carrying this burden entirely."
A true journalist would have replied: "Well, Mr. President, then why don't you quit resisting the types of entitlement reform the Republicans have offered that would best ensure that seniors don't lose their Medicaid and Medicare instead of continually obstructing reform and guaranteeing that all of our entitlement programs and the United States itself will go bankrupt in short order? Are you unconcerned about the Heritage Foundation projections that within 12 years, in the absence of major structural entitlement reform, 'the major entitlement programs and net interest together will eat up all tax revenues collected'? In view of your steadfast refusal to do anything about this, just what are we to make of your intentions? Indeed, what is your endgame?"
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, "The Great Destroyer," reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.