There was a time when I was fascinated by the Sunday morning talk shows. Indeed, I continue to routinely record them, but rarely bother to actually view them. My disenchantment with the Sunday shows makes me a bit like recently deceased reporter Bob Simon, as revealed last night on the memorial edition of 60 Minutes. During one of the Simon clips, he said that the worst 18 months of his almost 50-year career was an assignment spent in Washington, D.C. with those petty, egotistical politicians. Like Simon, I have grown tired of their preening and posturing.
Yesterday, however, I watched because I was interested in their treatment of the Giuliani story questioning President Obama’s love of America. The first show to come on was Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Todd was disgusted with the media’s extensive coverage of the story, so naturally he led his show by discussing the too-extensive coverage. Two people, both conservatives, made interesting points:
- Michael Gerson, a former Bush-43 speechwriter and currently a columnist for the Washington Post, suggested that Republicans like Giuliani and Scott Walker have a problem communicating with the outside world after living and thriving in a world of right-wingers for so long. I’ve got that same problem myself. When I’m spending time mostly with right-wingers, my thoughts and voice get a certain edge that is smoothed out when I’m around nonpartisans. The problem is that Giuliani was at a Walker fundraiser when he made his comments, and there is an even stronger tendency there to cater to the audience. In a way, that is almost analogous to Brian Williams exaggerating to please his audience.
- Haley Barbour, a former Mississippi governor and GOP national chairman echoed Gerson’s Pollyannaish comment about reaching for the middle instead of preaching your base, but also did a masterful job of refuting Chuck Todd’s suggestion that questioning the sincerity of President Obama’s Christianity had anything to do with race:
- Todd – “This is how it comes across to some folks when there is a debate about this. Why is it that Barack Obama, the first African-American president, had questions about his religion pop up in the political conversation and didn’t happen to Bill Clinton, didn’t happen to George W. Bush. That’s a lot of his supporters hear that and think, this has some racial overtone. What do you say to that?”
- Barbour – “I don’t know that race has anything to do with it. I would bet a higher percentage of African-Americans in the United States are Christians than of whites. I mean, of course, I come from a place where I’m very familiar with that. Very many religious leaders, very powerful leaders in the black community of my state are good Christians. So I don’t get the race question about Christianity.”
- Todd – “I understand. I’m telling you how other people hear it.”
If I were Barbour, I would have added that I recall President Reagan being attacked over the sincerity of his Christianity because he rarely attended Sunday services. But the crux of the matter is that any critic of President Obama must be prepared to be called a racist.