President Obama during interview by ABC News' Barbara Walters.
Barbara Walters proves the old axiom that there are no stupid questions because even a seemingly oddball query to an important public figure can get you something good.
In an interview for ABC News to be aired Friday, Walters asked President Obama something along the lines of: do you think you can beat Sarah Palin in 2012?
I don't have the exact question because ABC News hasn't released a transcript of the interview scheduled to be aired Friday and only paraphrases it in a news story about the interview.
It's a curious question because the answer seems self-evident. Of course the president thinks he can beat Sarah Palin. He can read the polls as well as anyone and they suggest he should be getting on his knees every night to pray she's the GOP nominee.
Also, if he says yes, it appears he's practically daring Palin to enter the race and he elevates her to the position of being his foremost Republican opponent. Better to let Republicans decide who that will be, especially if you're Obama, after a long, bruising primary battle that leaves them with a weakened nominee.
The problems are so obvious as to not need explaining if he answers the question no. Might as well accept the Doug Schoen-Patrick Cadell suggestion and do an LBJ and say he won't seek a second term.
So the president answered the question the best way he could; he mostly side-stepped it.
From ABC News's report:
When asked specifically if he thinks he can beat Sarah Palin in 2012, the president told Walters "I don't think about Sarah Palin."
"Obviously Sarah Palin has a strong base of support in the Republican Party and I respect those skills," Obama said. "But I spend most of my time right now on how I can be the best possible president. And my attitude has always been, from the day I started this job that if I do a good job and if I'm delivering for the American people the politics will take care of itself.
"If I falter and the American people are dissatisfied, then I'll have problems," he said.
Still, what the question allowed him to do was take what seemed a veiled shot at Palin. He's focused on what's really important, doing the best job possible for the American people. Thus, Palin is unimportant in the larger scheme of things, is the conclusion he wants us to draw.
But it's not a total diss since he acknowledges she has a political base and skills.
Of course, he's got to be thinking about Palin somewhat to know that.
So what seemed like a throw-away question actually got something of an interesting answer.