The Reply Blog

Why Don’t Politicians Answer Questions Plainly? Because They Can’t.

It was a pivotal moment in the 2nd of three presidential debates.  A REAL pivotal moment, not a trumped up fake one such as the “binders full of women” bit that every media outlet seemed to latch onto as something substantial.  President Obama had just been asked a question by one of the audience participants in the town hall style debate regarding the role of the Department of Energy in maintaining gas prices.  He neatly dodged it.

Candy Crowley didn’t want to let the president off the hook so easily.  In a deft piece of moderating work, Crowley drilled to the point by asking Obama if $4 gas should be looked at as the new normal.

Did you scream “YES!” in your head?  I did.  Did you, in the flash of a moment, realize with the world’s ever lessening petroleum reserves, the eventual replacement of oil based energy with renewable sources, and the constant increases in worldwide demand, that the logical answer is yes?  So did I.  I’m guessing Obama most certainly gave a mental nod of affirmation.

Yep, all things get more expensive.  That’s how it works.  Gas isn’t immune to inflation.  This blogger’s bet is everyone should get used to uncheap gas.

But Obama didn’t say “yes.”  He said something else.  His answer doesn’t matter.  Point is, he dodged it.  Again.  It was the only option he had.  Smart man.

The President couldn’t give a straight answer.  If he had, he would’ve been annihilated by every right-wing media outlet in existence.  It would’ve been twisted and re-tweeted into an admission of his own failure instead of a sincere moment of frankness.  Mitt Romney, like a drowning man willing to grab at anything, would’ve pounced and never let up.  Barack Obama would have just committed political suicide.

For all of you debate watchers who felt a deflating let down from Obama’s sudden slipperyness: there’s your explanation.  This man who we grew to love because of the substance behind the things he said has not suddenly transformed into a cold blooded politician.  He hasn’t been corrupted by his time in the White House.  He’s gotten real.  He’s learned the rules of the game.  He took the safe road and lived to fight another day.

The behavior of modern day instant media has caused this.  The people who are supposed to deliver to us objectivity and analysis instead draw partisan lines and interpret statements the way they want them to be interpreted.  Fox News would have attacked like a pack of starving dogs thrown a scrap of meat.  The people of MSNBC undoubtedly would have hailed Obama’s courage.  The uninformed public would’ve been left to form incorrect opinions at will….precisely what those same media outlets were eliciting.

Those strange distracting lines on the bottom of the television screen would’ve plummeted, indicating the displeasure of undecided voters holding electronic devices designed to instantly gauge their impulsiveness.

Re-write history for a moment and imagine that Obama had said “yes, gas will probably continue to be expensive and may get more expensive, which is why we need to move further in the direction of renewable  energy resources.”  Imagine the nation’s response to that.  Once you’re finished envisioning the sudden catastrophic end of the Obama presidency, you’ll be able to better understand why even the plain speaking, linguistically skilled Obama couldn’t give you an honest answer.

It’s because he couldn’t.

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