So Now It's Cool For Presidents To Dodge Questions

December 17th, 2008 9:56 AM

What a difference an administration makes. During the Bush years, if a spokesman or the president himself attempted to dodge a tough question, the media would go into their Sam Donaldson impressions and pundits would see a conspiracy of silence.

But now that it's Obama, the dodging that was once denounced is suddenly celebrated.  Thus, appearing on today's Morning Joe, Larry O'Donnell declared "impressive" Pres.-elect Obama's stiff-arming yesterday of a reporter who dared asked Blago-related questions.

The video clip also includes a gratuitous bit of nastiness from Obama adviser David Axelrod aimed at Mika Brzezinski.

Willie Geist introduced the clip of Pres.-elect Obama cuttting John-the-reporter off, telling him not to "waste your question" as he ventured into the Blagosphere.

When O'Donnell appeared later in the show, he declared himself impressed by Obama's artful dodging.

LARRY O'DONNELL: You know, the way Obama quashed it yesterday in the news conference was pretty impressive. And look, it's a pretty difficult situation for a reporter. You're sitting there, you're going to get one shot at the President-elect.  You can, as he put it, waste it on a question he's not going to answer, or you can ask him something about education. I think [Obama] did a pretty effective job of giving him that option.
Later still, Obama adviser David Axelrod appeared.  After Mika Brzezinski gave him a gracious welcome, Axelrod for some reason chose to snipe at his host.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Here with us now, incoming senior White House adviser.  David Axelrod joins us.  David, thank you so much. How are you?
DAVID AXELROD: Thanks for the uplifting set-up.  [A wry reference to the glum economic news reported just before his appearance, but not in a way that cast aspersions on Obama or Axelrod or that could explain his ensuing ill-humor.]
BRZEZINSKI: Thanks for coming on. First a question from me: why don't we know more at this point about Rahm Emanuel's political relationship with, as well as his conversations with, the governor of Illinois?

DAVID AXELROD: First of all, I recognize that that's a question from you: you don't have to identify your question as coming from you, even though we're on the phone.

You have to listen to the clip to hear the nastiness in Axelrod's voice. Mika's facial expression made clear she was shocked by Axelrod's inexplicable rudeness, but she chose the high road and declined to respond.  Axelrod went on to declare that O'Donnell "was right" in his positive assessment of Obama's performance. Surprise!