By Bill Maher
Back in 2008 we all stood with mouths agape when we learned that Sarah Palin, fresh off not being able to tell Katie Couric what newspapers she read or what nostrils were for, would no longer be doing any interviews or taking questions from the Washington press. It was all going to be stump speeches and friendly interviews with the lickspittles at Fox News from then until November (or, as it turned out, eternity). It was unheard of. What had our political process come to?
Except that it turns out Sarah Palin was a bit of a trailblazer. And not just because she was the first person from the slow reading group to become the vice presidential nominee of a major party. Because now everyone is adopting that tactic.
Mitt Romney is not taking questions or doing any interviews with the Washington press corps either. He's done one recently -- when he rolled out Paul Ryan for 60 Minutes. But that's it. No David Gregory. No Chuck Todd. Not even Katie Couric. He's all stump speech all the time. The only questions he takes are from friendly audiences at fundraisers, usually with the press kept outside. There's no way to pin down his position on anything. Or even get him to answer something so simple as, "So when you say you paid no less than 13% in taxes, you mean 13% in income taxes, right?"
Fox News, attack ads, and stump speeches. That's it.
Even worse, the same goes for President Obama. And he's the fucking president. He just gave his first press conference in months, and recently has only granted interviews to the likes of Entertainment Weekly and People. Oh, and to local news stations, like the recent one with the morning team at KOB FM in New Mexico, who asked him "What type of chili do you prefer, red or green?" and "If you could have a superpower, what superpower would you choose?"
Which is how President Obama gets to go from the beginning of the campaign until now without having to mention anything he might do in a second term. Not a peep.
And what's left when no one will talk about any issue with anyone other than a lapdog or a cipher? Gaffes. Endless coverage of gaffes. From Mitt Romney’s gaffe to Obama's gaffe to Joe Biden's gaffe, to Todd Akin's gaffe. And not only their gaffes, but what do other people say about their gaffes? How do you feel about his or her gaffe? Do you condemn his or her gaffe? Does the person who gaffed deserve to be fired? Or should the person who gaffed step down?
In that sense I can't even blame the media here. Because if the candidates aren't going to do interviews or answer questions, or talk about actual issues, and they're going to say the same thing at every campaign stop (and trust me, they do) there's nothing for the press to cover except when someone goes off that script.
So enjoy the coverage of the candidates' gaffes. And their offshoot, the candidate's spokesperson's gaffes. And the offshoot of that, the candidate's celebrity supporters gaffes. It's all you're going to get.