On Monday, the Obama campaign agreed to an interview request from the Des Moines Register on the condition that it be off the record. How do we know this? Because shortly after the interview concluded the Register's editor wrote a long blog post complaining about it. He's getting a lot of praise for this, but at the risk of being a little #slatepitch-y, I wonder if he deserves this praise? If he had refused Obama's conditions, he'd then have every right to complain publicly. But once he agrees, doesn't "off the record" sort of imply that you not immediately start bitching about it as soon as the interview is over? I'd certainly be reluctant to talk to someone off the record if I thought it would just make me a target of abuse as soon as the conversation was over.
But I haven't really thought this through. Maybe some big-time journalism ethicist ought to weigh in on this. In any case, shortly after the Register's gripe-fest was posted, the Obama campaign agreed to lift its restriction and allow the Register to post a transcript of the interview. One question they asked was about how Obama could get anything done given the "partisan gridlock that has gripped Washington and Congress," and that's a pretty good question. Obama's answer was basically about the fiscal cliff focusing everyone's attention, but then he moved onto another subject:
The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I've cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.
So....what does the hive mind think about this? It all makes perfect sense to me, but that, if anything, is a pretty good reason it won't happen. This is the tea-party-ized GOP we're talking about, after all, and good sense is not exactly its hallmark.
On the other hand, if Romney loses and the tea party appears to be responsible for yet another Senate debacle, who knows? Maybe their grip on the party really will be loosened. The folks who actually run the Republican Party will put up with losing only just so much, and Obama is certainly right that they have every incentive to stop pissing off the Latino community. I just wonder who will win in a showdown between the true believers and the real bosses.