President Barack Obama is “a pragmatic centrist,” Norah O’Donnell, NBC News reporter/MSNBC chief Washington correspondent, insisted Friday night on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, though not even Maher bought the claim Obama is a centrist. O’Donnell noted “they're trying to make inroads” into the business community with outreach to it as evidenced by hiring Bill Daley and speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, but she contended “other than that tonal switch, he's still the same centrist he’s always been.”
Maher countered: “But he's not really. If you woke him up in the middle of the night, of if you gave him sodium pentothal, I think he’s a centrist the way he’s a Christian – not really.” O’Donnell pleaded: “Don't you think it's a pragmatist?” To which, Maher recognized: “Yes, that’s different, he’s pretending to be a centrist.”
From the Friday night, February 11 Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO:
BILL MAHER: Do you think he is moving to the center? That’s what I hear all this month – Obama’s moving to the center, as if he had been listening to Dennis Kucinich and Noam Chomsky and now he saw the light and he’s suddenly a-
NORAH O’DONNELL: He's a pragmatic centrist, I mean that’s who he is.
MAHER: For real?
O’DONNELL: Yeah, I do. I think, though, that this was more tonal than anything else – moving to the center. I do think the White House maybe wanted it to get out there. I mean the President and the White House made clear he was bringing the Ronald Reagan biography on vacation. And, you know, look, they hired Bill Daley as the chief of staff, someone with business ties. They brought in the CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, he gave a speech before the Chamber of Commerce. So I think, you know, they're trying to make inroads, but that's a specific community, the business community. But other than that tonal switch, he's still the same centrist he’s always been.
MAHER: But he's not really. If you woke him up in the middle of the night, of if you gave him sodium pentothal, I think he’s a centrist the way he’s a Christian – not really.
O’DONNELL: I think he’s a pragmatist. Don't you think it's a pragmatist?
MAHER: Yes, that’s different, he’s pretending to be a centrist.
— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.