Consider these notes on the '60 Minutes' interview, also known as "How many times can Katie Couric ask the same question over and over again a dozen different ways without ever getting tired of hearing herself ask the same frickin question yet again." Forget sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards, I feel sorry for them both that they had to sit through this horrendous excuse of an interview. Katie Couric just might have proved she's the worst political interviewer I've ever seen; she sure was on this one. I'm amazed this is the best CBS could do with the biggest interview opportunity of the week. Over and over and over and OVER again, Ms. Couric asked variations on the "you know you're dying so what's the point?" theme. How about a segue into health care? No. Talking about how the Edwards have opportunities for health care others don't have and just maybe that's what they're fighting for? No. How about talking about their faith, which anyone can see is at the core of their ability to be strong during this challenge. Nope, Couric only wanted to talk about how others might judge them, their ambition, how it's too stressful to take care of his wife and be president at the same time. As if while being president life can't throw you some challenges. Good Lord, it was a disgrace, as well as a missed opportunity. Couric made no effort whatsoever to broaden the subject, but instead decided to exhaust the "cancer is death" topic, alert the American people. I particularly appreciated the moment when Couric talked about their kids, saying if I had a "finite" time I don't think I'd choose not being with my kids. No judgment there at all, Katie. The Edwards then reminded Ms. Couric that we've all got a finite amount of time, with Elizabeth saying they learned that in 1996... then John finished the comment, when they lost their son, as Mrs. Edwards lowered her head a moment. By the time it was over I'm sure both of the Edwards wanted a stiff drink. I'd have asked for a water back to throw in Ms. Couric's face. Though I doubt even that would have awakened her from her hamster wheel questioning stupor. --end rant--Yes. We are all going to die, Ms. Couric. What did you want, for them to throw themselves sobbing into your lap for hugs? What a stupid interview. It did not belong on 60 Minutes. It belonged in the trash.
Update: David Sirota:
Update: Bob Herbert does it best:
In pursuing this line of repeated questioning, of course, Couric ignored the pretty well-known psychological value of work during health care crises. She also ignored the fact that this is an immensely personal decision that does not require some multimillion-dollar journalist to perform a televised, Gitmo-style interrogation in order for viewers at home to glean the "news value." And most incredibly, she ignored her own behavior when her spouse was diagnosed with cancer.
That's right, Katie Couric's husband was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. I did a quick check of the transcripts for that year - and it's pretty clear that she kept working as the anchor for NBC's Today Show, if not full time, then pretty close to it.
I want to be extremely clear: That Couric continued to work while her husband was sick was entirely her and her family's personal decision. I'm not going to comment on the merits of that decision not because I think it was a bad one or a good one, but because it's AN ENTIRELY PERSONAL DECISION. Really, who the hell am I - and who the hell is anyone else - to question someone's decision to keep working during a family health crisis?
It's not up to me, or you or anyone else to decide whether such a decision for Katie Couric and her husband or John and Elizabeth Edwards is a good or bad decision, because it is an entirely personal decision, whether you are a national television anchor, a presidential candidate or anything else. I don't care if you are running for Supreme Leader of the Galaxy, your choice about whether to continue working at a time of a family health crisis should be entirely your own, without fear of journalists trying to "get a good scoop."
Elizabeth Edwards’s illness is a logical catalyst for a national discussion about health care in the U.S. But why stop there? Next year’s election will be one of the most important in history. Whatever you think of their politics, John and Elizabeth Edwards are giving the country a world-class lesson in courage and candor.THAT'S how you make sense of an interview, Katie.
You want straight talk? “I was wrong.” That’s what John Edwards said about his vote to authorize the president to go to war in Iraq. “The world desperately needs moral leadership from America,” he said, as he acknowledged his contribution to the debacle, “and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.”
The war goes on, and fate has dealt the Edwards family another devastating blow. The rest of us can help invest the absurdity of their tragedy with meaning by paying closer attention to the issues that are important to them. Whether one ends up agreeing with them or not, it’s a way of opening the door to a more thoughtful, rational way of selecting our presidents.
Update: Attaturk at Rising Hegemon reminds us of what capitalizing on tragedy and illness looks like.
Update: Hecate on using marriage as a qualifier for president:
The point is that there seems to be little correlation between the overall "success" or "failure" of any given presidential marriage and the job that the president did. Which, when you think about it, really isn't that surprising, or wouldn't be, if Americans (and Americans do seem to be worse about this than, say, Europeans or South Americans) didn't make such a ridiculous big deal out of "family" and "family values."Update 3/27:
We'd do well to get over it.
John Edwards isn't my first choice for the Democratic nominee, but that's more because I'd like to see a woman or an African American in office, after two hundred plus years of rich white men, than anything else. I like his message of populism. But his wife's health is a matter between him, Ms. Edwards, and her doctors. It's irrelevant to whether or not he should be the nominee or the president. Or, it would be in any rational world.
An excellent cartoon illustrates it all.