George Stephanopoulos is defending his decision to ask President Obama a question based on Sarah Palin’s criticism of his nuclear weapons strategy, saying that since Palin is an important national figure with possible 2012 hints, she deserves to be heard. (Obama’s hilarious response: “Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.”) Many find this persuasive, including Greg Sargent and Glenn Greenwald. Fair point.
What I would say is that no President should be isolated from criticism from both the right and the left. Where is Ralph Nader, anti-nuclear crusader and “decider of the 2000 election,” or Al Gore, famously in favor of non-proliferation, to say that the President’s plan doesn’t go far enough? Why doesn’t Stephanopoulos ask whether Obama still agrees with the writings of Harold Koh, one of his administration’s own lawyers, who notably wrote to condemn the Bush administration’s detention, secrecy and torture regime, after the Obama administration has adopted most of Bush’s policies? Why aren’t the critics of Obama’s energy concessions (nuclear power and offshore drilling) front and center the way that Sarah Palin is?
The President deserves criticism from both sides, especially when those voices are prominent. Is Paul Volcker really not as important as Sarah Palin? Yet, Volcker’s concerns don’t show up on the Sunday morning talk shows. Palin’s and Liz Cheney’s do.