At this morning’s presidential news conference, Chuck Todd of NBC News asked President Barack Obama one of the most impressively complex, probing questions ever. “How have you changed Washington?”
I didn’t hear a collective gasp of shock, nor any powerful admiration issue from the White House press corps, but a query so incisively crafted, so elegantly posed demands silence – stunned, shocked and surreal silence is the only reaction befitting Todd’s overly savvy, political probing.
It’s pretty surreal. On the eve marking America’s most emotional memorial of a terrorist attack, Chuck Todd asked a president about the Washington scene. Did he feel the ensuing monologue Obama gave somehow threw an accurate light on Washington’s current chaotic atmosphere? Did he challenge anything Obama said, or offer him a pointed follow-up? Nope.
Here’s a question for Chuck Todd, “How have you changed political reporting?” Dumb it down? Lobbing softballs to a sitting president in time of record breaking unemployment, a woefully disturbing economic climate, and a war on terrorism would be looked at by anyone as dumbing down political news reporting, especially from a wide reaching, influential news agency like NBC. Some could even say you didn’t do your job.
Chuck Todd shares a first name with my favorite comic strip guy, Charlie Brown. He’s called Charlie Brown by the lovable Peanuts gang, all but one. Peppermint Patty always calls him Chuck. I can almost hear Ms. Peppermint Patty say something like, “Oh, Chuck, what were you thinking? Didn’t you bother to do your homework the night before the big press conference? Chuck, do you just really like Mr. Obama way too much? Do you have a big, squishy crush on him, Chuck?”
If I close my eyes, and concentrate really hard, I can hear Peppermint Patty saying something like that. And if I try a little harder, I can hear, “You’re so wishy-washy Chuck!” But something tells me that even Charlie Brown, in all his good grief and wishy-washy cartoon glory, would have come up with a better question than Chuck Todd’s. It might not be so probing, or politically poetic as How have you changed Washington? Undoubtedly though, it would be more meaningful, and ultimately more responsible.