Wallace Plays Hardball With Obama, Netroots Angered by Barack's Civility

Well, sports fans, the highly-anticipated, years in the making interview of Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama on "Fox News Sunday" is over, and it's certain that folks on both sides of the aisle -- as well as all three remaining campaigns -- will find positives and negatives to glom on to.

In fact, some well-known liberal bloggers have already expressed their displeasure with Obama, wondering why he didn't attack Fox News as had been advertised.

But, before we get to such entertaining feedback, here are the questions posed by host Chris Wallace, which, to this writer's eye, appear to be anything but the normal softballs Obama has been thrown since he first tossed his name into the ring (full transcript here, h/t our good friend Johnny Dollar, video containing many of these questions available at the Huffington Post with full interview video now available at Raw Story, liberal websites both):

  • Your defeat in Pennsylvania raises new questions about your candidacy and especially about some of the pillars of the Democratic base. Let’s take a look at the numbers. Among white union households, Clinton beats you 72 percent to 28 percent. Among white Catholics, again, same margin, 72 percent to 28 percent.

    Senator, why are you having such trouble convincing white, working class voters that you’re their guy?

  • But some observers, and some liberal observers say is that part of your problem is you come off as a former law professor who talks about transforming politics when the lunch bucket crowd really wants to know what you’re going to do for them. Bob Herbert, columnist for the “New York Times”, happens to be a black man, says that Hillary Clinton seems tougher than you do.

  • But when you see yourself among these groups losing 70 percent to 30 percent, you aren’t troubled by that? Don’t you think to yourself maybe I need to have a different message or a new message? A different way of reaching out to them?

  • There’s something else that we saw in Pennsylvania. And take a look at this. Whites backed Clinton 63 percent to 37, while blacks voted for you 90 percent to 10. And if anyone has any doubts, 12 percent of those whites admitted that race was a factor, and they went for Clinton by more than 3-1.

    Senator, for all your efforts to run a post-racial campaign, isn’t there still a racial divide in this country that is going to make it very hard for you to get elected president?

  • Congressman James Clyburn, one of the top African-Americans politicians in this country, said this week that blacks are furious with Bill Clinton for playing the race card. Do you agree with him that there’s been a deliberate effort by the former president and some Clinton supporters to make race an issue in this Democratic race?

  • I wasn’t sure whether I was even going to ask you about your former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but he made it easy for me because he’s now begun this...public campaign to redeem his reputation. The other night he said to Bill Moyers that he has been the target of a smear campaign. Question: Do you think that Reverend Wright is just the victim here?

  • Did you talk to Reverend Wright recently about his decision to make public — a series of public appearances at this particular point?

  • But you didn’t try to discourage him from going public? It obviously isn’t helpful to your campaign to have him on the scene right now.

  • By the way, in your speech on race, you said that while you haven’t heard these remarks that have been public, that you had heard controversial remarks from the pulpit...Can you tell us anything that you heard him say?
  • But did he ever say anything about America or about white racism that troubled you?
  • Senator, you say a lot of good stuff. Reverend Wright (INAUDIBLE) are distractions from the real issues. But especially for someone like you, who’s a newcomer to the national scene, people don’t know a lot about, don’t voters have a legitimate interest in who you are and what your values are?
  • Let me ask you one other (INAUDIBLE) which some will call the distraction, some will call values. In the last debate, you were asked about your relationship with William Ayers, the former ‘60s radical and you said that you were no more responsible for what he did back in the 1960s than for your friendship with Tom Coburn, senator from Oklahoma, pediatrician, who has made comments about possibly taking the death penalty for cases of abortion. Do you really feel moral equivalency between what Ayres did and what Tom Coburn said?
  • No, I’m just surprised that you brought Coburn in, because it seems to me it’s so apples and oranges.
  • Senator, one of the central themes of your campaign is that you are a uniter, who will reach across the aisle and create a new kind of politics. Some of your detractors say that you are a paint by the numbers liberal and I’d like to explore this with you.

    Over the years, John McCain has broken with his party and risked his career on a number of issues, campaign finance, immigration reform, banning torture. As a president, can you name a hot button issue where you would be willing to cross (ph) Democratic party line and say you know what, Republicans have a better idea here.

  • But, Senator, if I may, I think one of the concerns that some people have is that you talk a good game about, let’s be post-partisan, let’s all come together — just a couple of quick things, and I don’t really want you to defend each one, I just want to speak to the larger issue.

    The gang of 14, which was a group — a bipartisan coalition to try to resolve the nomination — the issue of judicial nominations. Fourteen senators came together, you weren’t part of it. On some issues where Democrats have moved to the center, partial-birth abortion, Defense of Marriage Act, you stay on the left and you are against both.

    And so people say, do you really want a partnership with Republicans or do you really want unconditional surrender from them?

  • I want to ask you about more area during this segment. Tax and spending, the Republicans are keeping a running total of all of your plans. They say it’s $662 billion over four years. They say for all your promises not to raise taxes on the middle class that in fact you want to raise the cap on the Social Security payroll tax, and you also want to — let me get this straight here, you also want to increase capital gains.

    Question, John McCain is going to go after you as another classic liberal tax and spender.

  • Senator, this week President Bush named David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, to be the head of Central Command, which controls overseas military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia. Will you vote to confirm his nomination?
  • I want to ask you about presidents and listening to generals. Petraeus, I don’t have to tell you, is the architect of the troop surge, a strong advocate of our continued engagement in Iraq. If you become commander-in-chief and he says your plan to get out of Iraq is a mistake, will you replace him?
  • So would you replace him or would you just say, I’m the commander-in-chief, here’s my order.
  • Let’s clear out this campaign business. Why are you ducking another debate with Hillary Clinton?
  • No debates between now and Indiana?
  • You say it’s premature to discuss running mates. Are you at least open to the possibility of running with Hillary Clinton with places on the ticket to be determined?
  • If the voting ends in June and you are still leading in superdelegates - I’ll ask again. If the voting ends in June and you’re still leading in the popular votes and delegates and the superdelegates hand the nomination to Hillary Clinton, do you think the young people, the African American people, the young first time voters you brought into this campaign, aren’t they going to be awful angry?
  • The Wall Street Journal says that you are prepared to run the first privately-financed campaign - presidential campaign since Watergate. True?
  • If you could get that agreement you would go for a publicly financed campaign?
  • If you get that agreement?
  • Finally, and we have about a minute left, what have you learned in this campaign? And I don’t mean, gee, what a great country this is answer.

    What mistakes have you made? What have you learned about running for president? What have you learned about yourself?

Were these softballs, or good, fair questions of the front-runner for the Democrat presidential nomination?

That asked, don't miss Ed Morrissey's initial take on this interview:

The most hilarious point came when Obama tried to claim credit for bipartisanship on the John Roberts confirmation vote — not because he supported Roberts. He voted against Roberts. However, Obama wanted credit for defending the few Democrats who did support Roberts on Daily Kos, and taking the venom of Kos’ readership for his defense. That’s bipartisanship — standing up to the Kos Kiddies? If that amounts to an act of courage for Obama, it tells you how bipartisan he will be prepared to be as President.

Yes, that certainly was telling, Ed.

So was the reaction by Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent who reported Friday that a senior Obama adviser had "IMed" him claiming the Democrat presidential candidate was going on "FNS" to "take on Fox." As a result, Sargent is understandably displeased with what actually happened during the interview, and likely expresses what we should expect from the Netroots:

The Fox News Sunday interview is over. And Obama didn't take on Fox at all in any meaningful sense. [...]

Obama had a perfect opening to do this, too. Wallace pressed him repeatedly about Jeremiah Wright and the bogus "flag pin" nonsense -- a perfect set-up for Obama to point out that Fox had obsessed about both these issues to an obscene degree and that Fox had been at the forefront of spreading the Obama-is-a-Muslim lies.

To be clear, Obama wasn't obliged to go after Fox. But a senior adviser said Obama would, as a way of quieting criticism of him. And he didn't.

This will likely further dismay liberal bloggers who had worked very hard to get Dems to boycott Fox as a way of deligitimizing the network and who already criticized Obama for agreeing to appear in the first place.

Netrooter Matt Stoller was even harsher in his criticism of Obama:

Obama is sucking up to Fox News, and beyond that, the campaign operative who said he would just out and out gave false information.

You can't trust the Obama campaign, they will lie to you to promote right-wing institutions.

Wow. It's going to be highly entertaining watching the liberal blogosphere's reaction in the days to come.

*****Update: Johnny Dollar has links to the early reactions to this interview.

*****Update II: Charles at LGF comments on a recent Daily Kos post carping and whining about Obama going on FNS:

The irony here is completely off the scale. These are people who advocate speaking with our real mortal enemies, people who chant “Death to America” and kill American soldiers and civilians, but they’re unyielding when it comes to ... Fox News?

*****Update III: Johnny Dollar has more blogosphere roundup concerning the interview.

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