Jeremy Cutcher is a political science senior and the Mustang Daily liberal columnist.
It was an opportunity for Fox News to feed off the incredible number of people watching the Super Bowl and an opportunity for Fox Sports to draw in an audience that may not normally tune in to football.
It was Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama during the pre-game show. And, as was expected, the title bout did not disappoint – it was not your generic interview, with vapid questions and empty platitudes, although Obama did occasionally give the political answer rather than the real answer.
First, I will say I actually enjoy watching O’Reilly’s interviews for the most part. He does come from an ideological point of view different from mine, but he doesn’t hide it and he’s not bashful. Also, he asks difficult questions, whether the person interviewed is liberal or conservative. Having said that, I do find his habit of asking loaded questions irritating (i.e. “A lot of Americans feel that you’re a big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom. Now, do you deny that?”) as well as his proclivity to finish a series of questions with his own opinion and then quickly move on to the next topic so he always has the final word. It gave the impression that both were talking past each other rather than engaging in a conversation. But all in all, it was one of the more worthwhile presidential interviews I’ve seen in a little while.
O’Reilly’s first question focused on Egypt, which is going through a very important time in its history. One Egyptian journalist called it their “Berlin Wall moment” because she said this will be the moment where Egyptians oust a corrupt regime of political elites in favor of some form of representative democracy, with the democratic spirit then spreading to other countries in the Middle East.
If history is news that stays news, then the world is witnessing history in Egypt that will have implications for generations. Obama did not want to insert himself too much into the domestic politics of Egypt (knowing that his words “can affect markets, affect what happens overseas”) saying only that he wants to see a representative government that takes into account the interests of all Egyptians.
One of the most interesting points in the interview was when O’Reilly asked Obama if he denied he was “a man who wants to redistribute wealth.” A liberal by definition favors redistribution of some sort. Even America as a whole favors redistributing wealth — tax policy is always a matter of redistributing wealth from one sector of society to another, and there are very few Americans who desire getting rid of taxes altogether, or at least few who favor doing so and understand the consequences that action would have.
Rather than answering honestly and saying he favored some redistributive policies, Obama denied the “accusation” and pointed to the fact that he has only lowered taxes since he got in office. But he also said during the State of the Union speech we shouldn’t give up federal loans and scholarships to students before the wealthiest give up their tax break. You tell me if he favors redistribution.
But I do find it intriguing that he felt he could not admit that, I’m sure taking into account Fox News’ traditional audience base. And tax policy will forever be a rallying cry for those on the right, after all our country sought independence from England over taxation without representation. We as Americans must realize that our country offers fantastic opportunities, but not everyone can take advantage of these opportunities equally. Thus, those who succeed should have to face higher tax burdens as some mark of gratitude toward the country that allowed them to prosper as well as they have. This money can then be redistributed throughout society so as to guarantee a certain standard of living for all who contribute to keeping the American dream alive and our economy going, from nurses and teachers to farmers and janitors.
I know we like to call ourselves a Christian nation, often to gain moral superiority over some issue. I was raised Catholic and it seems to me that policies of redistribution very much fall in line with the teachings of Jesus. And though the government may not be perfect, it still needs to intervene in the economy from time to time because, in Hegelian terminology, the market is the realm of the particular (or the individual) while government is the realm of the universal (or the common good). Markets do not care if people suffer,so long as it runs at allocative efficiency because markets function off self-interest.
Governments, especially representative democracies, function off the public interest. Some cynics will say that politicians act self-interestedly and thus governments never actually function in the public interest. But really, capitalism is the only ideology that really deifies self-interest, while self-interest in politics is often condemned and even prosecuted. Though it may not always be perfect, governments are at least supposed to act in the public interest — the same cannot be said of markets.
On another note, I have to admit that the commercials during the Super Bowl seem to get worse every year. The game, however, did not disappoint.