In an interview with Barack Obama, unidentified [New York] Times reporters asked the president, three separate times, about the notion that he is a socialist.
My first thought was this was a joke. I clicked the link to Steve Benen's "Political Animal" blog at Washington Monthly, and discovered it was not, in fact, a joke. These yahoos were quite serious.
President Obama chatted with a couple of New York Times reporters aboard Air Force One yesterday, and the interview covered quite a bit of ground. I was taken aback, though, by the NYT approaching this nonsense in a serious way:
Q. The first six weeks have given people a glimpse of your spending priorities. Are you a socialist as some people have suggested?
A. You know, let's take a look at the budget -- the answer would be no.
Q. Is there anything wrong with saying yes?
A. Let's just take a look at what we've done....
Let me get this straight. Unhinged and hysterical Republicans have engaged in an absurd red scare, in large part because the White House supports a 39.6% top rate. The very idea that the president's agenda is similar to "socialism" is demonstrably ridiculous. So, given an opportunity to interview with president, the New York Times, arguably one of the world's most prestigious news outlets, asks, "Are you a socialist?"
Indeed, the reporters brought it up again soon after.
Q. Is there one word name for your philosophy? If you're not a socialist, are you a liberal? Are you progressive? One word?
A. No, I'm not going to engage in that.
Bene's last sentence sums it all up beautifully:
Sometimes our political discourse is very, very dumb, and journalists who should play a constructive role in making it better often make it worse.
It's one thing for the brain dead, the ignorant, and the clinically sociopathic to carry on about Obama being a Muslim Communist Fascist who is hell-bent on destroying America. For The New York Times to buy in to this, even the tiniest fraction thereof, is mind-numbing.