CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen was positively aglow after hearing President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening: “This was the most ambitious president we’ve heard in this chamber in decades. The first half of the speech was FDR, fighting for the New Deal. The second half was Lyndon Johnson fighting for the Great Society, and we’ve never seen those two presidents rolled together in quite this way before.” He later gushed over the agenda set by the executive during his speech: “I think we’re watching one of the greatest political dramas of our time” [audio available here].
Gergen made the remarks as he participated in a panel discussion during a special post-speech edition of the network’s Anderson Cooper 360. Eleven minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of the program, host Anderson Cooper asked the analyst for his immediate reaction to his speech. After making his lofty comparison, he underlined the apparent ambition of President Obama: “I think most people would have felt just trying to recover from this recession and stop the flow of blood, and get a recovery going would be enough for one president. He’s saying no, no, no -- we’re going to do health care reform this year....Do energy -- we’ll do education. Thankfully -- do national service, and we’re going to cut the deficit.”
Cooper responded to the analyst’s outline by asking, “Can he [President Obama] do that all?” Gergen’s answer: “I think that’s part of the drama of this presidency....I think we’re watching one of the greatest political dramas of our time.”
Earlier in the evening, during Campbell Brown’s program, Gergen did his best to hype up the president’s address:
CAMPBELL BROWN: David, you know, people are scared -- not a lot of patience right now for partisan politics, and that is good for the president in a way, yes?
DAVID GERGEN: I think so. I think that the president goes into this speech with the wind at his back -- very, very high approval ratings -- at least three polls out now showing his approval ratings in the 60s. And Campbell, in truth, this speech is a glorious opportunity for the president. He’s got the whole country tuning in for an hour. He’s going to be in a chamber where people are going to be cheering, standing up -- and the Republicans will give him a politely warm reception, but the Democrats are going to give him -- you know, they’re going to just be applauding intensively. So it’s a perfect setting to lay out his thoughts and plans. I would imagine the president has thought about -- he’s only rehearsed once, but I bet he gets a lot of mileage out of this. It’s the best opportunity he’s going to have in a long time to lay out how does this all fit together. I was checking into the hotel today, and the guy asked me as we were going up to the room, ‘Are they going to fix this? Will they fix it?’ That’s the issue he has to answer tonight -- ‘Will they fix it? Will his plan fix it?’