Did anyone else decide to stay in on Halloween night and watch PBS? If so, you might have caught Tom Brokaw wax profound on the Charlie Rose Show for an hour.
In an otherwise light and uneventful discussion with two establishment pundits at a wood table, this passage made my jaw drop.
Follow me after the jump, and you'll see what I mean.
Take a look at Friday’s video from Charlie Rose and skip forward to 34:20. (It doesn't seem to embed properly.)
Charlie: What at this late stage have we missed? What opportunities would you have wanted to pursue? For example, education. For example, in terms of energy. For example, how they feel about huge problems: global health and poverty...
Brokaw: Here are a couple places I would’ve liked to have a chance to press them harder. There was a question from the Internet from woman who is 78 years old, who had lived through the Depression. And she said, "In this country since WWII we haven’t been asked to sacrifice anything." Having written about the Greatest Generation, that’s a big issue with me. We’ve not been asked to do anything during the Iraq war. If you don’t have a child or a loved one in uniform serving, you’re completely separated from it. And I was disappointed that the two candidates really didn’t come up with a kind of list.
Charlie: There’s no call to service.
Brokaw: Tom Friedman and I were talking about it later. Because one friend of mine wrote and said, "Well, you know, Obama did say that you should take a look at public service." I said, "Well, you know, that’s a bromide."
What if he had said--looked in the camera and said--to a family, "At the end of this debate tonight, I’d like you to sit down with your family and decide how you can reduce your energy needs and uses in your family by 20 percent in the next six months."
Tom Brokaw, whose job it is to follow the news, missed an entire theme from Barack Obama’s campaign, articulated repeatedly in stump speeches across the country.
How many of us could recite in our sleep the Obama plan to give every student in America a $4,000 college tax credit in exchange for service?
Here’s MSNBC—Brokaw’s own network—reporting on Barack’s call for service and sacrifice:
Here’s Obama—looking in the camera, if I'm not mistaken—and talking about service in what I recall was something entitled the September 11 Presidential Forum on Service. I guess they should’ve put the title in neon lights for Brokaw to notice it.
Here’s Obama writing about his call to service in Time magazine.
Third, we need to integrate service into education. We should help schools develop service programs outside the classroom. And I've proposed an annual college-tuition tax credit of $4,000 in exchange for 100 hours of public service. You invest in America, and America invests in you--that's how we'll make college affordable for every American.
It's time to come together to shape the course of history. After 9/11, all Americans were ready to answer a call to service, but it didn't come. I will issue that call, and make it a central cause of my presidency.
And if you’ve forgotten, or just happen to be the average retired NBC News anchor, here’s Obama’s 27-minute speech on national service, delivered in Colorado Springs on July 2, 2008.
Right on Obama’s campaign website is an entire page about his service tax credit.
Obama even brought up his service credit during his acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention, which we can assume Brokaw watched because he was there reporting on it.
But the central complaint against Brokaw, of course, isn’t that he hadn’t read Obama’s entire platform—it’s that he had been oblivious to a theme that had been echoed throughout the general election.
There’s really no excuse for this omission.
I also found it particularly galling that Brokaw chose energy conservation as his example about what Obama "missed" in his call to service.
Does anyone elose remember when the silly season of the general election officially began in August?
Barack Obama answered an audience question, in the midst of $4 a gallon gas, about what the individual citizen could do to conserve. Obama suggested, among other things, that we should keep our tires inflated.
The McCain campaign swooped into full "Country First" stupidity and started distributing tire gauges at rallies. They even sold tire gauges online, bearing the imprint: Obama’s energy plan.
And as an added reminder, here’s Obama delivering one of the more unforgettable (for non-news anchors) responses:
It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.
What a perfect encapsulation of the past 8 years of Republican mismanagement. And after Tom Brokaw’s profound pontification, it seems like the perfect coda to the campaign coverage we've endured from the traditional media.
As a post-script, ever since Inflate-your-tires-gate, I’ve been religiously inflating my tires. It almost feels as good as when I cast my ballot for Barack Obama this week.
On to November 4! Get out the vote these last three days, and we'll make sure they hear us from now on.