POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Questionaire Exposes Publication's Bias

The Politico has apparently unearthed some ancient questionnaire that Barack Obama may or may not have filled out detailing his "liberal positions" on a host of issues. The Politico seems to imagine that they've hit on something that will limit Obama's appeal with voters, but the only thing the piece reveals with any certainty is that Obama's views will limit his appeal with the people who write for The Politico.

As they indulge themselves in full-blown editorializing, here's how Allen and co-author Ben Smith describe "liberal" positions. They are positions that "haunt" and are "high minded" and "extreme." They are issues that are "small-bore, emotionally-charged and sometimes easily-distorted." They lead to statements that are "blunt" and will make Obama a "sitting duck."

And the candidate is described in unhinged, melodramatic terms. On the questionaire, Obama failed to use "the available space to calibrate his views." (This would be totally true, by the way, were it not for all the instances on the questionnaire where it was totally false, such as questions 3, 5, 10, 11, 14, 21, 22, 23, 26, 30, and 33. Did The Politico think that people wouldn't check?) The Politico's high wire treatment of this questionnaire continues:

"Do you support ... capital punishment?" one question asked.

"No," the 1996 Obama campaign typed, without explaining his answer in the space provided.

"Do you support state legislation to ... ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?" asked one of the three dozen questions.

"Yes," was Obama's entire answer.

OMGs, y'all! That was his entire answer? Really, my whole concept of existence has been torn asunder!

And how can one possibly explain this sentence: "Campaign advisers say that Obama's positions reflect his willingness to remain true to his values, whatever the cost." Where does the notion of "cost" even come from? Surely that's not something the Obama camp said about this. One would have to guess that this little superfluous clause came from political sources opposed to Obama's presidential campaign. But then, it turns out you don't have to guess! Allen and Smith admit this:

The questionnaire, which was provided to Politico with assistance from political sources opposed to Obama's presidential campaign, raises questions of whether Obama can be painted as too liberal and whether he is insufficiently consistent.

How sad! These "questions" aren't even being genuinely raised by the authors of the piece! Allen and Smith are just someone else's glib Gunga Dins.

Really, the whole piece is just relentlessly dumb. There are pages and pages to this questionnaire, and the piece only mentions four of the questions, over and over. No allowance is made for the twelve intervening years that have passed in the interim. No allowance is made for the move from a statewide position to a Federal position. Any slight alteration in stance is treated as a dark and diabolical bit of subterfuge.

And for what? What's the cogent, big-picture analysis offered here? "As a result, Republican officials say that, depending on how Obama plays his cards, they will be able to torpedo him in a general election either as a flip-flopper or a lefty." Well, oh no! Who could have possibly seen that coming! Elsewhere, Obama's Republican opponents are said to be "licking their chops" in anticipation of attacking him. I guess that explains why, during the last GOP debate, when Obama was ahead in Iowa, his name was mentioned precisely zero times!

Even though it merely constitutes a tiny bit of pushback in an article that's largely the whispers of opposition consultants, David Axelrod's statement, "His views are very much in the mainstream of the Democratic Party," stands out simply because it's both reasonable and demonstrably true. If it weren't, the GOP would finally have a candidate available capable of "touching voters," wouldn't they?

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?