I do that all the time. Like, when I say to the guy at the DMV, "I think that you were perspicacious in your original assessment of my car's inadequate taillights. OK?"
Or when I ask my girlfriend, "Hey, if we're going to grill that tuna steak, do we have any perspicacity to sprinkle on it first?"
O'Reilly was sitting right there, Fox News' Everyman, taking on the previously but no longer haughty Democratic presidential nominee, mano a mano. Just one working-class stiff with an advanced degree from Harvard in the No Spin Zone grilling another (Bill O, JFK School, Class of '96; Obama, Harvard Law '91).
But The Factor held his own against a man he described as no lightweight:
"He's a tough guy, Obama," O'Reilly said in the post-game analysis of his own performance — at least in the first portion, aired Thursday. "I looked at him eye to eye — he's not a wimp. He's not a wimpy guy."
O'Reilly got Obama to acknowledge that the elevation of U.S. troop levels in Iraq, commonly called the surge, had "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." (More on that in a bit.)
O'Reilly has promised three (!) other segments with Obama over the next week. The interview was brokered by none other than News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch, during a meeting at which he brought Obama and Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes together. According to Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff, Obama complained about what he felt was unfair treatment from Fox. Ailes reportedly replied that Fox would treat him fairly but wouldn't be in the tank for him, as, Ailes contended, the other television networks were.
Fox News: Perspicacious and balanced.
Lesson No. 4. Pundits will say an-ee-thing on live television just to be on live television. Sometimes they would be embarrassed about it — were they not darting to the next consulting job (for the political types) or book party (journalist types). And the anything can be inane. But it can also involve Mobius strip contortions to help a favored party or candidate. Take, oh, I don't know, former former Bush White House Svengali Karl Rove, now an independent observer for Fox News Channel.
Jon Stewart certainly does. He finds Rove and a bunch of other pundits reversing course when convenient. As, for example, when Rove praised Palin's experience but earlier had said that the pick of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, as a running mate would show Obama was "really not concerned with picking someone capable of being president of the United States."
Oh, Stewart has other examples, too. This isn't a lesson, per se, because it's so mortifying for professional media critics. Take Stewart at his own word: He's not in the news business. But apparently it takes a satirist (and his crack team of capuchin monkey researchers) to wade through actual, not-made-up-clips to show how the echo chamber actually works.
Lesson No. 5: Never count out Bob Woodward. He's like the guy in The Fugitive — relentlessly working to crack the case. This time, it's Book 4 on Bush, in which he reveals — wait for it — the surge in Iraq didn't have all that much to do with the sharp drop of violence there. That's more books than the investigative dynamo wrote on President Nixon, and he more or less brought Nixon down.
According to a synopsis running in Friday's editions of The Washington Post, and prompted by the fact that Fox News got an early copy of his book, Woodward reports that "'groundbreaking' new covert techniques, beginning in 2007, enabled U.S. military and intelligence officials to locate, target and kill insurgent leaders and key individuals in extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq."
And he reported four reasons for the reduction of violence: "[new kinds of] covert operations; the influx of troops; the decision by militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to rein in his powerful Mahdi Army; and the so-called Anbar Awakening, in which tens of thousands of Sunnis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and allied with U.S. forces."
Oh, also, the U.S. has been spying on the prime minister of Iraq during his every waking moment, and President Bush, in Woodward's judgment, "too often failed to lead."
So, while all those 15,000 credentialed journalists in St. Paul were gaping at the projection of the largest American flag ever on that big green pool tarp on the stage, Woodward was busy undermining just about every assertion in all interviews done on foreign policy at the conventions over the past two weeks.
Goodnight, and may God bless the news media.