Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley Compares Obama To FDR

President Obama’s annual Christmas vacation wraps up this weekend and on Saturday CBS Evening News did its best to promote the president’s 2015 agenda. 

CBS reporter Chip Reid filed a report from Hawaii that offered no soundbites from Republicans opposing Obama and instead found time to quote liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley who argued that Obama’s “starting to learn that he could be like FDR and Theodore Roosevelt--don't worry about Congress, just lay down these executive orders.” 

Reid began his report by playing up Obama’s upcoming 2015 agenda: 

After a two-week vacation that included nine rounds of golf and joining his daughters for Hawaiian shave ice, President Obama plans to hit the ground running next week. Speaking in Michigan, Arizona, and Tennessee, the president will propose new policies on homeownership, college education, and jobs. 

Rather than provide a true soundbite of a Republican expressing doubt over the president’s agenda, the CBS reporter chose to play a generic soundbite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) detailing how the “first item up in the new Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline.” 

Reid continued his report by hyping how President Obama “has said he wants to work with the new Republican Congress on issues including trade, tax reform, and infrastructure” before he turned to Brinkley who insisted that “it looks like it's going to be a lot of gridlock.” 

The one-sided segment concluded with Reid noting that despite GOP opposition “some of the proposals he will unveil next week will be executive actions that don't even need approval by Congress.” 

While CBS was quick to promote Obama’s 2015 agenda during his Christmas vacation, eight years ago the network reported from President Bush’s vacation by arguing that the Iraq War was a mess and never offered any soundbites from supporters of the Republican president. 

On December 28, 2006, CBS reporter David Martin highlighted GOP critics of Bush’s Iraq strategy:

The president [George W. Bush] has his own political problems with the war, and today his decision to invade Iraq came in for some criticism from an unlikely source, the late President Ford…Another former president has privately worried about that justification, too. CBS News has learned several months after the invasion of Iraq, the father of the current president told a family member, "It sure would be nice to find some weapons of mass destruction." That, of course, never happened.

See relevant transcript below. 

CBS Evening News 

January 3, 2014

JIM AXELROD: President Obama returns from his holiday vacation tomorrow. He's going back to work with a very different set of priorities than the Republicans who take control of both houses of Congress on Tuesday. Chip Reid is with the president in Hawaii. 

CHIP REID: After a two-week vacation that included nine rounds of golf and joining his daughters for Hawaiian shave ice, President Obama plans to hit the ground running next week. Speaking in Michigan, Arizona, and Tennessee, the president will propose new policies on homeownership, college education, and jobs. White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz. 

ERIC SCHULTZ: The big goal for the next few weeks is to make sure that the economic progress we've seen over the past few years is enjoyed by as many Americans as possible. 

REID: The State of the Union preview tour is an effort to get ahead of the new Republican Congress, but incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies in House have a very different agenda. 

MITCH MCCONNELL: First item up in the new Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline. 

REID: It will also take up legislation weakening the president's health care reform law. They plan to pass both bills quickly and dare the president to veto them. 

BARACK OBAMA: If Republicans seek to take health care away from people who just got it, they will meet stiff resistance from me. 

REID: The president has said he wants to work with the new Republican Congress on issues including trade, tax reform, and infrastructure, but CBS News presidential historian Douglas Brinkley is skeptical. 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: I hate to use the word, but it looks like it's going to be a lot of gridlock. 

REID: Following the controversial path the president blazed last year on climate change, immigration, and Cuba, some of the proposals he will unveil next week will be executive actions that don't even need approval by Congress.

BRINKLEY: He's starting to learn that he could be like FDR and Theodore Roosevelt--don't worry about Congress, just lay down these executive orders. 

REID: Now, all of those policy proposals that the president will be rolling out next week will be included in his State of the Union address on January 20, and we are told by White House officials that he has been working on that speech while on vacation here in Hawaii. Jim? 

AXELROD: Chip Reid covering for us tonight from Waikiki Beach. Thank you, Chip.

Campaigns & Elections 2014 Congressional CBS CBS Evening News President Barack Obama Chip Reid Douglas Brinkley

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