Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ask an Unwelcome Question, Get Boycotted

WTVF television in Orlando ran a scheduled interview with Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden.  In the interview, the anchor asked Biden a question about the recent comment by Barack Obama that seemed to indicate that he wanted to tax higher incomes and 'spread the wealth around'.  Having read Karl Marx, I admit, that the same quote that the anchor used in asking her question popped into my mind at the time I heard Obama's remark: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

The Obama-Biden campaign immediately canceled an interview the station was planning to do with Jill Biden: "There's nothing wrong with tough questions, but reporters have the very important job of sharing the truth with the public -- not misleading the American people with false information. Senator Biden handled the interview well; however, the anchor was completely unprofessional. Senator Biden's wife is not running for elected office, and there are many other stations in the Orlando television market that would gladly conduct a respectful and factual interview with her." "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election."

Now I can understand why it is politically inconvenient to have Marxism introduced into a campaign, and the polls have reflected some impact to the Obama campaign since the comment concerning spreading the wealth around was made.  But in looking at the two statements, I just simply cannot see the difference between:

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and "I think when you spread the wealth around, it is good for everybody." 

(Note: I imagine that at whatever level you set the bar and begin taking wealth from some and spreading it around to others there may be some mumbling about the "good for everyone" part of this comment).

Is there a big difference in those two quotes that I am not seeing?  Marx advocated more comprehensive redistribution of wealth (essentially leveling out wealth across the population), but the idea certainly seems to be compatible with Marx's views.  You could surely see that Biden was incensed, indignant and angry to be asked about Marxist leanings (though the idea that the remark was essentially reflective of a socialist point of view), and I can understand not wanting to have his campaign labeled as socialist or Marxist.  But I truly don't see why asking this question was 'completely unprofessional'.  There are people all over the country debating whether Obama's comment reflects a real desire to be a modern day Robin Hood, socialism, etc., but when an anchor mentions it to the candidate?  Bam! No soup for you! 

I wonder if this is a hint about how the Obama White House might handle 'the wrong kind' of questions from the press in the future? 

Oh, and one more thing that occurred to me when I saw Biden's response:  he was way too upset to be asked a question he despised.  The image that popped into my head was of a former president, angry as hell at a reporter who had the temerity to question him: "I did not have sex with that woman - Miss Lewinksy". 

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