The Democratic National Committee attack ad released today in tandem with the MTV/BET/CMT production "A Conversation with President Obama" tells us all we need to know about what the administration was up to with this pseudo-town-hall meeting on the eve of the midterm elections.
You can read my analysis here of how wrong I feel it is for the White House and Viacom, the owner of the three cable channels that hosted the telecast, to try and use young people for political purposes this way.
The hour-long production featured Obama in a theater-in-the-round setting fielding questions from a sound stage full of young adults at BET in Washington. The production seemed suspect from the moment the first student called on to ask a question identified herself as a Republican. She said she had hoped to see more bipartisanship in Washington, but added, "I don't think that happened." She asked the president how he was going to "improve" dialog between the two parties.
The president could not have been set up any better to explain away one of the great failures of his administration: how despite his campaign promise to change Washington, things have only gotten worse since he entered the White House. (AP photo "A Conversation with President Obama")
"We actually spent months trying to work" with Republicans on health care, Obama said. "I was hopeful that they would meet us halfway."
But, he explained, "We just couldn't get there."
And why couldn't "we get there"?
"Because some folks made a decision that it would be useful for me to suffer a political defeat," he said.
Those folks, of course, are the evil and craven conservatives who hate him so much they would bring the country down rather than compromise a little on certain matters that could save the nation.
And so it went question after question. No follow-ups. No challenges. Just Obama spinning, spinning, spinning, and knocking down a straw man every fourth or fifth question.
The facts he quoted were often suspect. He played the fear card with the young people, extending the echo chamber for another DNC attack ad on Republicans by saying, "There is an awful lot of corporate money pouring into this election for ads...96 percent of them negative."
I had not heard that 96 percent figure before, but whatever the actual number, his DNC is certainly responsible for a lot of those atack ads.
"They have names like 'Moms for Motherhood,' he said explaining what he characterized as phony front organizations for the nefarious folks paying for the ad attacking Democrats. "Actually, I just made up that one," he said laughing.
Obama played the "threat to democracy" card and then said maybe the money is coming from "insurance companies" that don't like the requirements of health care reform.
Taken with the recent attack on the Chamber of Commerce and the unsubstantiated charge that it is accepting "foreign money" to "steal our democracy," this is some loaded message he was selling on the soundstage at BET Thursday.
There was a moment near the end that looked like it might have been tiny crack in the choreography. Katie Cook, of cable channel CMT, was reading tweets from the viewing audience sent in response to the questions: What are your greatest hopes and fears?
One of the respondents said his greatest fear was that "Obama will be re-elected."
But even that was a set up for Obama to tell the young foilks how evil it is to express such thoughts.
He characterized the message as "name calling." And lectured the audience on how we need "dialog" instead of "name calloing" like that done in the tweet. "We gotta stop the name calling," he said.
But no names had been called. The viewer simply said he feared another term with Obama running the country. Last time I looked, that was still considered free and allowable speech.