On Tuesday, both NBC's Today and CBS This Morning interviewed White House chief of staff Denis McDonough about President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address and fretted over the commander-in-chief failing to push his liberal agenda in 2013. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Today co-host Savannah Guthrie pressed: "I looked at last year's State of the Union. He called for a hike in the minimum wage, for immigration reform, for gun laws to be revamped. By the way, he also said the government shouldn't shut down. None of that happened. So when he calls for those things tonight, how can the American people believe that they really will come to pass?"
On This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell asked a nearly identical question: "I went back and looked at the President's State of the Union address from 2013, then he called for an increase in the minimum wage, nothing. Last year, he called for immigration reform, nothing. Last year, he called for new gun control measures, nothing. Is tonight's address more of a wish list than a to-do list?"
In neither exchange did the respective hosts suggest that Obama change his policy goals or become more bipartisan to get things done.
Guthrie began the Today segment with McDonough by reporting bad numbers for the President in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
...a majority of those surveyed have a pessimistic view of the administration. Asked to describe the state of our nation in a word or two, 37% use "divided," with "troubled" and "deteriorating" close behind. And only 3% said it was "strong"....Meantime, 39% said the country is worse off now than it was when President Obama became president. And a third said they are pessimistic and worried about the rest of the President's term, while just 16% called themselves optimistic and confident.
Turning to McDonough, she declared: "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but with this poll....He now joins George W. Bush and Harry Truman as the only presidents entering their sixth year in office with an approval rating that is underwater....Would you acknowledge he's got some credibility to win back with the American people tonight?"
On This Morning, O'Donnell's fellow co-host Charlie Rose skipped over such unflattering poll data and instead focused on how the President could turn things around:
There's also this talk out of Washington that the President and his staff, you included and the cabinet, looked at 2013 and looked at the problems you had with Congress and said we're going to go the direction of executive orders and that's how we'll regain our own agenda. Is that the way you would characterize it?...It's also said that the President knows that midterm elections are coming up. And that talk about the presidential campaign will begin, earnestly, right after those elections. And so this is his last chance, his best State of the Union opportunity, to allow for his vision and the legacy he hopes to recapture.
ABC's Good Morning America did not interview McDonough on Tuesday, but did feature a softball report from White House correspondent Jon Karl on how the President could "get his mojo back."