CNN personalities Jack Cafferty and David Gergen continued the chorus of praise for President Obama on Wednesday evening for his first address to a joint session of Congress, twenty-four hours after he had given it. During his regular “Question of the Hour” segment on The Situation Room, Cafferty gushed that the Democrat “had that place in the palm of his hand for the entire time he was in that room” and, despite all the serious issues he discussed during the speech, that the president “seems remarkably unruffled by all of this, serene in an inner confidence that he’s got what it takes to lead this country back into the sunlight.”
Later that evening on Anderson Cooper 360, it was apparent that Gergen’s afterglow about the address hadn’t subsided from the previous evening. He described it as a “rousing speech, took us up to the mountaintops.”
Cafferty made his remarks during the 6 pm Eastern hour edition of his “Cafferty File” segment. It seemed as if the CNN commentator just couldn’t get enough of Obama’s oratory:
JACK CAFFERTY: In his address, Wolf, to Congress last night, President Obama laid out what would be an ambitious agenda even in good times. Never mind that we’re in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And yet, the president struck an optimistic tone, saying quote, ‘We will rebuild and we will recover’ -- unquote -- his speech focusing on three top priorities: energy, health care, and education. But there was more -- boy, was there more, including, but not limited to: tax reform, beginning a debate on overhauling Social Security, retooling the auto industry, reforming the regulatory system, getting rid of fraud and waste in Medicare, seeking a cure for cancer in our time, expanding mass transit, encouraging parental responsibility, and on and on and on. Plus, don’t forget, there’s still a war on terror and two real wars going on. But our president seems remarkably unruffled by all of this, serene in an inner confidence that he’s got what it takes to lead this country back into the sunlight.
That’s not to say some of this stuff may not have to be delayed for a while. Mr. Obama acknowledged as much, saying quote, ‘Everyone in this chamber will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars, and that includes me. But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges’ -- unquote. It was quite a performance.
Here’s the question: What are the most important priorities for this nation at this time, and which ones can wait, in your opinion? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile -- post a comment on my blog.
It occurred to me watching the president last night, Wolf, that he was born to do exactly what he was doing. He had that place in the palm of his hand for the entire time he was in that room, and that can be a tough audience, a tough room to work.
At the end of the segment, host Wolf Blitzer seconded Cafferty’s take on the president’s speaking ability: “Yeah, he knows how to give a speech, I must say....He’s very good at that.”
Just over four hours later, during the 10 pm Eastern hour of Anderson Cooper 360, it was Gergen’s turn to sing President Obama’s praises. He would use the “mountaintop” term twice in his comments:
ANDERSON COOPER: David Gergen, we heard in Ed Henry’s piece, the president has this ambitious plan -- $634 billion to reform health care. Is he going to be able to convince Congress, the American people that this is critical to spend money on? We’re throwing around, again, just hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. Is this really critical?
DAVID GERGEN: That’s -- that’s going to be a very good question, Anderson, and I -- I think one of the big questions about the president’s speech last night -- a rousing speech, took us up to the mountaintops -- but I think a lot of people are now going to look at this and say, we need to focus on the recession first. We need to stabilize the economy. Once we have done that, let’s then see where we can go on health care and -- and -- and energy and these other issues. And do we really want to now pass a 600 and -- for whatever this huge number -- over $600 billion? One of the surprises in Ed Henry’s report -- and I can’t believe that this is a deep view in the White House, but he reported that -- that people in the White House are saying -- working on the recession over the next six months is not all that important. What’s really important is to do health care and energy. That is not the view of the country. So, you know, we went up to the mountaintop last night -- very successful speech. Today, we get down to some hard realities. There are going to be a lot more questions ahead.