At a town hall meeting in Charlotte, NC last Friday, a woman in the audience asked President Obama if it was a “wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care” package. The President responded by giving a fairly long , detailed, and substantive answer — spanning more than 15 minutes — explaining the necessity of reform and that the tax increases would only affect the rich. “Boy, that was a long answer,” Obama acknowledged. “I’m sorry…but I hope I answered her question.”
Unsurprisingly, many in the mainstream media focused on the style, rather than the substance, of Obama’s answer. Last night on Fox News, host Jim Angle called it “one of the longest answers in the annals of presidential town hall meetings,” seemingly mocking Obama’s “17 minute answer” that was “six full pages.” Charles Krauthammer piled on:
KRAUTHAMMER: It’s only nine times the length of the Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln was answering an easier question, the higher purpose of the union and soldiers who fell in battle. The president had an easy answer. He could have said I wanted to make history with health care and to do it I have to raise your taxes. … End of answer.
Obama’s answer made others in the DC media circuit a bit sleepy and seemingly annoyed, like the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut, who penned an entire article mocking Obama’s “doozy” of an answer:
He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer — more than 2,500 words long — wandered from topic to topic. [...] Halfway through, an audience member on the riser yawned. But Obama wasn’t finished. He had a “final point,” before starting again with another list — of three points. [...] The audience sat politely, but people in the back of the room began to wander off.
Liberal bloggers ridiculed Kornblut’s story:
What a snob. Makes you long for the non-elitist days, when a president would respond to Doris’ question with a quick slap on the ass and a winking, “you’ll be alright, gorgeous, I’ll get those taxes out of the way.”
“For the record,” the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen wrote, “I kind of liked the lengthy response, but I probably like in-depth discussions more than the typical political reporter.”
Perhaps all the misinformation that has been emanating from media outlets such as the Washington Post and Fox News on health care reform this past year is what required the President to make such a detailed response in order to set the record straight.