Chris Matthews: Don't worry, I'll include some easier questions when I interview Obama

Via the Washington Free Beacon, can we trust a guy who compared himself yesterday to a kid on Christmas Eve to ask tough, newsy questions of the president? The whole point of agreeing to a town hall carried by a liberal cable network, with an audience full of college kids, hosted by someone who cops to getting thrills up his leg at Obama’s oratory, is to let O pitch ObamaCare in the most favorable of media environments. He’s playing tee-ball here, by design. They might as well invite him to wear pajamas. Even the “hard” questions are more likely to be along the lines of “Were you disappointed on launch day that your team had failed you?” than “HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE KNOWN?” The fact that Matthews has actually allotted time for questions even he thinks will be easy — as well as a “fun” segment at the end — makes me want to watch in morbid curiosity to see how bad it can get. Will there be any tingles mid-program? What would that look like? Is America, as a society, prepared for it?

As for the audience, I’m betting that the disaffected millennials who want to recall Obama will be grossly underrepresented. One interesting tangent on that, though: How come young adults aged 25-29 are still more or less on O’s side whereas younger adults aged 18-24 have soured on him? Emma Roller has a theory:

Intuitively, you’d think younger millennials would be more supportive of Obama because his health law allows them to stay on their parents’ plan longer for free. Why is it the opposite? My working theory: older millennials are more supportive of the president is because they were around to vote for him in 2008, and so have a more visceral tie to his policies.

I asked IOP pollster-in-chief John Della Volpe if he thought my theory was plausible. He responded, “Not only is that plausible but I agree!” So it may not be so much that the 18-24 set likes Obama less; they just don’t risk their egos as much by not supporting him.

No doubt. Older millennials made the purchase psychologically on Hopenchange; it’d have to fall apart completely before they admit it’s a lemon. Younger millennials aren’t similarly invested. There may be another element, though. Some studies suggest that once a person’s political identity is formed in youth, it remains surprisingly steady for the rest of his or her life. Older millennials aren’t just kids who got suckered by Obama hype, they’re voters who, like most of the rest of America, soured on Bush and the GOP because of Dubya’s second term. Unlike most of the rest of America, though, that pro-Democrat/anti-Republican orientation is more apt to endure in their age group because it developed during a formative age for political awareness. They’re sticking with Obama not just for ego-protection, in other words, but because of bona fide partisan identification. Younger millennials are in a different position, having largely missed the Bush years and picked up politics in the Obama years of economic stagnation. They’re not firmly forged Democrats, unlike their slightly older brothers and sisters. That’s good news for the GOP, even if older millennials are now mostly a lost cause.

Anyway, set your DVRs. Exit question: What would constitute a “hard question” for Obama? Matthews seems to think asking him about NSA surveillance qualifies, which is understandable but … not really true, I think. You know what Obama’s going to say — it’s a delicate balance between freedom and security, no one’s more concerned about privacy than he is, he’s convinced that these programs save lives, etc etc. It’s not a hard question if you can guess the answer in advance. But then, that also goes for my hobbyhorse lately about O violating separation of powers. That’s not a hard subject to spin either: The executive branch has some discretion in how it enforces the law and he’s exercising that discretion in ObamaCare’s transitional period to make the program better for Americans. The art of the hard question is in the follow-up, not the initial ask. We’ll see how Tingles does tonight.

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