As a journalist at a non-broadcast outlet, I am frustrated by interviews like this one. Few journalists (and zero non-journalist citizens) are afforded an opportunity to spend an hour asking anything of the president, and fewer still who enjoy a mass audience as big as 60 Minutes, which bills its broadcasts as "hard-hitting." It is therefore disheartening each time the opportunity is squandered with broad, superficial, softball questions:
KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.
No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get
reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think under some
extraordinary circumstances, we not only saved the country from a
potential disaster -- not only did we manage our national security at a
time where there were severe threats and two wars going on, in a way
that has made America stronger and more respected and put us in a better
strategic position around the world and almost decimated our number one
enemy, which is al Qaeda -- but what I've also been able to do is to,
in very practical ways, put in place a series of steps that will allow
middle-class families and those trying to get in the middle class to
take back some of what they've lost over the last couple of years. Now,
we're not there yet, but what I can say unequivocally is that everything
I've done, every single day, and everything I will do as long as I'm in
this office is designed to make sure that every kid in America has the
same opportunities that I had.
Given a fleeting hour with a president who is avowedly seeking re-election, how can a journalist possibly justify that exchange? Of course he's going to say yes, he deserves to be reelected, and then repeat his familiar messaging. In the course of the next year, as President Obama stumps all over the nation and otherwise campaigns for re-election, there is zero chance that the American public will be deprived of his argument for why he deserves another term.
It would be forgivable if that question were surrounded by better ones. But much of the interview is flawed in similar ways.