Liberal Historian Beschloss: ‘So Poignant’ Obama Admitted He Couldn’t Bridge Partisan Divide

Moments after President Obama’s final State of the Union on Tuesday night, liberal historian Michael Beschloss was a panelist on PBS and fawned over how the President was “so poignant” in lamenting during his speech that he hasn’t “been able to bridge the divide” while in office.

Host Judy Woodruff turned to Beschloss and pointed out that either him or one of the other panelists mentioned while watching the speech that the President offered “little chest thumping here” in hyping “the successes his administration has had dealing with the war on terrorism.”

Also in the speech, Woodruff brought up Obama’s “remarkable statement of regret....when he said the great regret of my presidency is not bringing the two parties together.” Beschloss praised Woodruff’s set-up and declared:

I felt that was so poignant because Barack Obama is a guy as we know who came to public attention in 2004, Democratic Convention, Boston, where he gave that speech saying, there is not a red America or a blue America, we’re all on the same side and here you have him 12 years later after seven years as President saying, I tried but I have not been able to bridge the divide. 

Referring back to then-President Lyndon Johnson’s last State of the Union days before leaving office in 1969, Beschloss stated how that speech included “Republicans and Democrats in the House saying Auld Lang Syne.” 

Beschloss used that example to infer that something like that would be almost impossible in today’s political culture despite the attempts by the President: “I don't think that is going to happen this year, if Barack Obama comes to give another farewell address and this was so close to his heart, so centered at his political identity for him to say I wasn't able to do it is poignant.”

Of course, Beschloss made no mention of the President’s extensive role in furthering the partisan divide. As for just one example, this writer would remind readers of the infamous pro-Obama advertisement in the 2012 election concerning Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital and the complaint that a factory’s closing.

Over on CBS, that network had some flowery language of their own right before the President arrived in the House chamber. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley hailed the President taking “a valedictory lap” as he starts his final year in office while Face the Nation host John Dickerson bemoaned the usage of “fear” by Republicans contrasted with Obama’s “message of hope.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from PBS’s coverage of the State of the Union 2016 on January 12 can be found below.

PBS’s State of the Union 2016
January 12, 2016
10:12 p.m. Eastern

JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael Beschloss, we heard one of you said was listening, a little chest thumping here, he talked about the successes his administration has had dealing with the war on terrorism, getting Osama bin Laden, but there was that remarkable statement of regret, I thought, at the end when he said the great regret of my presidency is not bringing the two parties together. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: I felt that was so poignant because Barack Obama is a guy as we know who came to public attention in 2004, Democratic Convention, Boston, where he gave that speech saying, there is not a red America or a blue America, we’re all on the same side and here you have him 12 years later after seven years as President saying, I tried but I have not been able to bridge the divide. It sort of reminded me of the last State of the Union — I guess probably would, that Lyndon Johnson gave in 1969 at the very end just a few days before Johnson left, he gave the speech and believe it or not, Republicans and Democrats in the House saying Auld Lang Syne, I don't think that is going to happen this year, if Barack Obama comes to give another farewell address and this was so close to his heart, so centered at his political identity for him to say I wasn't able to do it is poignant. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center