CNN's Brinkley Gushes Over Obama 'Preaching the Gospel of Civility'

On Wednesday's CNN Tonight, longtime Obama admirer Douglas Brinkley trumpeted the President's speech earlier in the day at the Illinois State Capitol: "Barack Obama is really preaching the gospel of civility right after Donald Trump won New Hampshire. There's a contrast of styles between Trump and the President there. I thought that it was a historical moment for the President — a journey down memory lane." Brinkley asserted that Obama is "deeply disappointed that he's not been able to...make public discourse less poisonous, as he put it. I think he thinks that's the most failed part of his presidency." [video below]

The liberal historian later touted that "President Obama is trying to be the cool agent. That's the word always assigned to him — 'Mr. Unflappable.'" He also lamented that "alas, New Hampshire is gobbling up all the news, so it's become a bit of a back-of-the-bookend story."

Host Don Lemon turned to Brinkley and liberal pundit Bob Beckel for their take on the President's address, which marked the nine-year anniversary since the announcement of his presidential run at the same venue. Lemon underlined, "It's amazing to see — when someone sees how the sausage is made — because he's really explaining to the American people, this is how the sausage is made. He's letting you in on this secret — which is not really that much of a secret. But I found his speech to be very interesting in that respect today."

The CNN presidential historian gave his "gospel of civility" response, and revealed that the speech "made me realize...that these are — this — every month now is the last...February he's President; the last March; the last April." He continued with his "deeply disappointed" claim about the President.

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Lemon followed up by asking, "Did it feel like an early farewell speech to you?" Brinkley replied, "It did. I thought it was almost a bit like a farewell address. But I think this president is going to do a few farewell addresses." The liberal guest then predicted that Obama would give a "big speech about why we need to be kinder and — and continue their immigration policy," along with "farewell addresses" on "climate change danger," and "a number of these kind of reflective speeches before the final farewell address...next January."

Moments later, Brinkley dropped his "cool agent" label of the President, and bemoaned the lack of coverage of the speech in Illinois.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Brinkley/Beckel segment from the February 10, 2016 edition of CNN Tonight:

DON LEMON: Doug, it's amazing to see — when someone sees how the sausage is made — because he's really explaining to the American people, this is how the sausage is made. He's letting you in on this secret — which is not really that much of a secret. But I found his speech to be very interesting in that respect today.

[CNN Graphic: "Obama Opens Up: President On His Achievements And Failures"]
    
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it is. I mean, Barack Obama is really preaching the gospel of civility right after Donald Trump won New Hampshire. There's a contrast of styles between Trump and the President there. I thought that it was a historical moment for the President — a journey down memory lane — going back to Springfield, Illinois, in the general assembly there. He had Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod on his side.

And it made me realize, Don, that these are — this — every month now is the last — you know, February he's President; the last March; the last April. And I think he's deeply disappointed that he's not been able to help — make public discourse less poisonous, as he put it. I think he thinks that's the — the most failed part of his presidency.

LEMON: Part of that was his mission nine years ago today, when he announced that he was going to run for president. Today, he gave that speech. Why do you think that — do you think it was — did it feel like an early farewell speech to you?

BRINKLEY: It did. I thought it was almost a bit like a farewell address. But I think this president is going to do a few farewell addresses. I promise you there will be a big speech about why we need to be kinder and — and continue their immigration policy. You're going to have a big farewell address about climate change dangers in the 21st century. And, of course, you're going to have a big political speech by Barack Obama in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention.

So, I think he simply decided to do a number of these kind of reflective speeches before the final farewell address in — next January.

(...)

LEMON: Douglas Brinkley, as a historian — presidential historian, when you look at the anger in the populace — the rejection of the establishment in both parties — is there another time in our history that you can compare to this?

[CNN Graphic: "Obama Warns Against Yielding To Loudest Or Angriest Voices"]

BRINKLEY: Well, you get these moments when both sides — you know, in the 19th century, people — they used to have caning incidents in (sic) Capitol Hill, where senators would take canes and beat each other and scream at each other. And, of course, it led to a civil war. Usually, we come together on something like World War II, when we're all in it together. But the Vietnam War divided the country between hawks and doves, much like you're having — you know, in this country now, between 'the 99 percent' versus one crowd; or is Wall Street to blame or the federal government to blame. But it is definitely an era of acrimony right now.

Yet, President Obama is trying to be the cool agent. That's the word always assigned to him — 'Mr. Unflappable.' And I thought he gave a very smart speech on civility today. But alas, New Hampshire is gobbling up all the news, so it's become a bit of a back-of-the-bookend story.

LEMON: Yeah.

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