CNN Confused: How could Nelson Mandela influence Barack Obama if they only met one time?

President Barack Obama
But if they only met once?! — photo by Daniel Borman


So at Friday’s daily briefing at the White House, everybody had a question about Nelson Mandela’s death and the funeral and why didn’t Barack Obama think Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was worth attending and wasn’t Mandela’s death just a distraction from Obamacare? And in the middle of all the excitement, out pops CNN’s Jim Acosta with this stumper for Jay Carney:

“it just sort of struck me that the President talked about this great impact that [Mandela] had on his life, but he only met with Nelson Mandela one time face-to-face.

“I was just curious,” he continued, “for people who are wondering, if you could provide more details about Nelson Mandela’s influence on the President’s life. Have you had a chance to talk to him about this? I know he made some comments about this yesterday. People might just be wondering.”

“They only met one time,” Acosta reiterated, “but yet he had a big impact.”

Yeah, Jay Carney — how is it that Obama can claim to have been influenced by some dude that he met once when he was a senator? Seems like a heck of an exaggeration, don’t you think?

And Carney, with the patience of an elementary school teacher, explained that it’s actually possible to be influenced by someone without ever having met them, exactly the opposite of the way that CNN journalist Jim Acosta took no inspiration or lessons from, say, Edward R. Murrow:

“Well, I think that Nelson Mandela had a profound impact on millions and millions of people around the world, and beginning with the citizens of South Africa — millions and millions of people who have never met him — who never met him,” Carney said. “And the President, as senator, had the good fortune to meet him. But I don’t think that’s the reason why he had an influence on Barack Obama. That influence extends, as he said yesterday, well back in time.”

Nice job not just staring back dumbfounded at Acosta, Mr. Carney. It was almost as gracious and patient as the time we saw Spalding Gray talk in Tucson; he’d mentioned something about a production of Our Town he’d been in, and a student in the audience asked him why, since he was such a well-known actor, he didn’t try for an actual acting part, instead of just being the Stage Manager.

Carney also explained that there was this time called the ’80s when a lot of people found Mandela inspiring, including young hippie stoner Barack Obama, but by that point Acosta wanted to know why it’s called hamburger if there’s no ham in it.

By Doktor Zoom


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