Given an opportunity to interrogate Obama on camera, a prominent tea party activist squandered it by complaining about Joe Biden's incivility. What was he thinking?
Afforded an opportunity to publicly question President Obama, I'd confront him on his terrible civil liberties record. Someone else might reasonably press him on health care, the economy, the war in Libya, or any number of other importance issues. But Ryan Rhodes, a prominent tea party activist, took a different approach. Face to face with the most powerful man on earth, cameras rolling, he said this: "When you're talking about civility how is your vice president calling us terrorists?"
As my colleague Chris Good reported, "Biden allegedly made the 'terrorists' remark at a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats, though the account is disputed." Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Biden did in fact draw an analogy between tea partiers and terrorists. What on earth was Rhodes thinking? Is that really the thing to ask the president of the United States?
To be clear, I don't care that Rhodes was combative, or that he didn't show Obama deference. I just think there are about 47,047 better questions he could've posed. Despite picking the worst one, he's being celebrated on Fox News and elsewhere for what is clearly a missed opportunity. If you're someone who thinks the president should be pressed on the most important issue of the day, or the one that's getting too little attention given its importance -- well, Rhodes didn't do that. If you think it's important to ask Obama the question likely to damage his reelection chances, or draw him into a gaffe, or flummox him, Rhodes didn't do that either.