The most obvious question on earth: Everybody makes mistakes. For example, we made a mistake in 2002, though we try not to dwell or obsess on it.
That said, we thought Kevin Drum got something wrong yesterday. He was annoyed with CNN’s Dana Bash for asking Harry Reid the most obvious question on earth.
Republicans had proposed passing a small CR to fund cancer treatments for children, which have been suspended in the government shutdown. Working from an account by Dave Weigel, Drum posted this version of the exchange in which Bash posed her question to Reid:
WEIGEL (10/3/13): CNN's Dana Bash asked Senate Democratic leaders if they'd back the new piecemeal bill.“Ugh. It's irksome that reporters like Bash are so eager to play gotcha with obvious Republican talking points,” Drum said.
"What right do they have to pick and choose what parts of government can be funded?" asked Reid.
"But if you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you?" asked Bash.
We’re puzzled by that reaction, which was widely trumpeted in comments.
(Please note: We aren’t talking about what Reid said in reply to this question. Drum, and commenters, criticized Bash for asking the question at all.)
We’re puzzled by Drum’s criticism of Bash. That seems like the world’s most obvious question, given the fact that the GOP had advanced the piecemeal proposal.
Why wouldn’t a journalist ask that question once the proposal had been advanced? Beyond that, who won’t Democrats go along with these piecemeal CRs?
As the tribal lines hardened, commenters struggled to assert that this was an absurd idea. But it isn’t an absurd idea. Bash’s question made perfect sense, and we haven’t yet heard a good answer:
Why shouldn’t you fund the cancer treatments, if that is the only thing the GOP lets you do?
This is a time of tribal stress. Drum’s commenters tried to stay in line with the Democratic position, which said that all the funding should be done in one bill.
Ideally, we agree with that! But if the GOP will only do this, why wouldn’t you sign that CR?
Commenters seemed to fear that the GOP would score a political win that way. We have no idea why that would be the case. Each time Obama signed one of those tiny CRs, it would provide a high-profile opportunity to note the sheer absurdity of what the GOP is doing.
Politically, it would be a great gig for Dems. Everyone would be able to see how silly the spectacle was.
In this case, it would also get some kids treated for cancer! As an American journalist once memorably asked, “But if you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you do that?”