WRONG QUESTION, RIGHT ANSWER…. President Obama sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive interview in Prague yesterday, on the heels of the president signing in a new arms treaty with Russia. The interview, portions of which were aired this morning on “Good Morning America,” covered quite a bit of ground, and the transcript is well worth reading for thoughts on Iran, among other things.
There was, however, one exchange that stood out for me.
STEPHANOPOULOS:I want to get to some of those broader issues [of nuclear proliferation]. Because you’re also facing criticism on that. Sarah Palin, taking aim at your decision to restrict the use of nuclear weapons. Your pledge not to strike nations, non-nuclear nations, who abide by the nonproliferation treaty. Here’s what she said. She said, “It’s unbelievable, no other administration would do it.” And then she likened it to kids on the playground. She said you’re like a kid who says, “Punch me in the face, and I’m not going to retaliate.” Your response?
OBAMA: I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the string of criticism has been out there among other Republicans as well. They think you’re restricting use of nuclear weapons too much.
OBAMA: And what I would say to them is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But not concerned about her criticisms?
The president’s response was the right one. When dealing with issues of counter-proliferation and the nuclear threats of the 21st century, he can listen to credible and knowledgeable experts, including his secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, or he can listen to the bizarre rhetoric of a dimwitted former half-term governor of a small state, who appears to have no working knowledge of this or any other subject. It’s not a tough call. Why on earth would anyone give a damn what the clownish Sarah Palin thinks about arms control?
Which leads to the larger point: why is George Stephanopoulos using an idiotic quote from a dimwitted former half-term governor of a small state as the basis for a question to the president?
In effect, the “GMA” host was saying, “Some conspicuously unintelligent right-wing media personality said something stupid about a subject she knows nothing about. Mr. President, how do you respond?”
Here’s a thought: why should he be expected to respond? When doing an interview after a key development on international affairs, why not stick to the perspectives of grown-ups?
Update: Stephanopoulos responds to my concerns (and I respond to his response).