MSNBC columnist laments Fetterman’s speaking ‘challenges’ will make voters choose ‘extremist’ Oz

MSNBC opinion columnist Zeeshan Aleem warned voters not to be dissuaded out of voting for Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman because of his communication issues, because the Republican alternative, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in an “extremist.”

Aleem argued that if Oz gets into office because voters are turned off by Fetterman’s speaking impediments, the GOP candidate will be a threat to abortion rights, enforce strict immigration, and endorse the return of former President Donald Trump. 

The piece was published Wednesday, the morning after a debate performance from Fetterman that even liberal outlets admitted was “painful to watch.” It was clear from the column’s subheader that Aleem was fearing the worst. It said, “Fixating on speech distracts from the looming political emergency.”


It seemed as though Aleem was worried that the lingering health effects from Fetterman’s stroke were giving Oz a real opening at securing victory in the hotly contested Senate race. The writer pleaded with voters to see past Fetterman’s speech impediments so that Oz would not win. 

He began by describing the obvious difference in debate quality between the two candidates on Tuesday evening, writing, “Oz is a seasoned television host who knows how to speak with polish in front of a camera. Fetterman has an I’m-just-a-normal-dude-in-a-bar conversational style of speech, which endears him to much of the public but also doesn’t always lend itself to snappy debate banter.”

Aleem added, “On top of that, it was evident that Fetterman’s challenges with processing spoken language — a result of a stroke he suffered in May — made it hard for him at times to select and articulate words as he made his case for why he should be Pennsylvania’s next U.S. senator.”

He also admitted, “While medical experts say there’s no reason to doubt Fetterman’s cognitive capacity, and while his overall points were intelligible, it was at times genuinely difficult to understand some of his sentences.”


Knowing that Fetterman’s performance wouldn’t be well-received due his communication issues, Aleem claimed that voters should ignore the Democrat’s obvious problems for the sake of saving the Senate from another GOP vote. 

He wrote, “In all likelihood this difference in oratorical styles is going to be at the center of pundit analyses of how the debate went, not just on the right, but likely across centrist media, as well. But it shouldn’t be.”

Aleem wanted readers to know that it’s not about how Fetterman communicated during the debate but ultimately about his politics versus Oz’s. 

He said, “The core distinction at the debate was that Fetterman is a progressive with sound ideas about what’s needed to make the country better, while Oz is an extremist and a political opportunist who has shape-shifted into a MAGA supporter to win Pennsylvania.”

Touting Fetterman’s desire to codify Roe v. Wade as normal and moderate compared to Oz’s “extremist” anti-Roe stance, Aleem said, “Fetterman clearly declared support of Roe v. Wade and the idea of abortion as a right that must not be infringed upon… By contrast, Oz made extreme statements. He said he would leave the issue of abortion up to ‘women, doctors, local political leaders.’”

During the debate, Oz maintained he wanted states to decide their own limits on abortion. Aleem acknowledged this too, writing, “He tried to casually describe abortion as a state issue rather than a federal one — but his formulation showcased how radically intrusive it is to have lawmakers intervening in the issue based on the local political winds.”

Aleem continued, “On other issues, too, Fetterman took reasonable positions while Oz took extreme ones or avoided taking any clear stances at all.” These extreme positions included Oz’s openness to “stricter enforcement of immigration laws” and his support for “Donald Trump for the presidency again if he won the Republican nomination.”

At the end of the piece, Aleem made one last appeal to voters taken in by Oz’s better rhetorical performance. He said, “Throughout the debate, Oz spoke more quickly and with greater force. He also constantly refused to take positions as clearly as Fetterman, and the positions he did stake out should worry Pennsylvanians for their extremism and alignment with Trump’s authoritarian movement.”

MSNBC opinion columnist Zeeshan Aleem worried Fetterman’s speaking “challenges” during Tuesday’s Senate debate would compel voters to back Oz’s “extremist” agenda.

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