Amanpour to Leno: Obama's Election Spurred Singing, Dancing, and High-Fiving the Cops

December 4th, 2008 1:26 PM

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday night to promote her Thursday night special, and she hit her usual political notes: Hillary Clinton is an "instantly recognizable star" around the world who will remind the world of the "modicum of peace and prosperity" of the Clinton years, and Barack Obama’s election was remarkably ecstatic: "I don't think there's ever been such a reaction for a political event, such a happy reaction, people spilling onto the streets, you know, dancing, singing, high-fiving with the police." It looked to her like " a foreign country having its first-ever democratic election."She even blamed the rise of Ahmadinejad in Iran to President Bush’s "Axis of Evil" speech. After a brief chat about India and Pakistan, Leno brought up Hillary:

LENO: So what do you think about Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State? Is it gonna be good, gonna be bad, a wash? What do you see?

AMANPOUR: Well, clearly, she's a major known commodity around the world, and I think that the rest of the world is very used to her, very used to the Clinton years, remembers, you know, a modicum of peace and prosperity around the world during the Clinton years. And she's an instantly recognizable star, I suppose, around the world, and that will be good while America's trying to restore its place in the world, which I think a lot of Americans want. They said so in the election.

This is a bit of an odd statement, since Amanpour’s special talks about how the world suffered genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda during the Clinton years, so it wasn’t time of peace for everyone. That must explain the "modicum." Leno didn’t want to burden the viewer with the fact of her husband working as chief spokesman for the Clinton State Department. Then the chat shifted to Obama:

LENO: Now you were here for the election. Was this your first time?

AMANPOUR: It was, actually. I wasn't covering it, but I'm based here for the last several months. And I went out, just to Times Square and to other places. I live in New York at the moment. And I was just stunned by the reaction. I don't think there's ever been such a reaction for a political event, such a happy reaction, people spilling onto the streets, you know, dancing, singing, high-fiving with the police. I – you know, as a foreign correspondent, who’ve covered many, many elections around the world, to me it looked like a country, a foreign country having its first-ever democratic election. Reaction in the streets were amazing.

Christiane is also Christi-Fan. This is similar to what Amanpour wrote on on Election Day, but without the voters breaking out into a number from West Side Story. She's actually adding more hype to her account. Why would she leave all the singing and the dancing and the cop high-fiving when her memory was new? On Election Day, she observed something milder: 

As I rode my son to school by bike, we passed a public school-turned voting center that made us gasp. There were lines wrapped right around the whole block.

People were waiting happily, patiently, with their take-away coffee cups, snapping pictures of each other, recording what they clearly believed was their role in this historic democratic drama.

I asked some whether they had ever stood in line so long to vote here in the U.S. "Never" they said, smiling. TV and radio report similar long queues across the country.

Leno then used Obama's middle name -- allowed only if it evokes a remarkable acceptance of diversity -- to suggest he could charm the reasonable leaders in the Middle East into believing America was no longer a Bush dystopia:

LENO: Let me ask you about this, because you have Barack Obama -- to moderates in the Middle East – I mean, there are people that like us, people that hate us. The ones in the middle that sort of watch the day-to-day thing, those muslims that don't really have an opinion one way or the other. They see a man named Barack Hussein Obama elected President of the United States, Does that signal a big change? Do they suddenly say to themselves "well, maybe America is --" [What? No longer evil?]

AMANPOUR: I definitely think so and they've already said so. I mean, it really is remarkable what's happened in this country, that this person has been elected. And, of course, many around the world have conspiracy theories, you know, about the West. This is really a show of democracy, how anybody with the right credentials and the hard work can actually make it in this country and that is the american dream, you know? Everybody who comes over here has that dream.

Leno asked Iranian-born Amanpour about whether Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is popular in Iran. Amanpour blamed Team Bush: "His election was a bit of a a reaction. Also if you remember, the Bush administration had called Iran part of the Axis of Evil, and that made many Iranians very angry. And they said, "if they're calling us the axis of evil while we have a reformist, sort of, pro-freedom president,’" and apparently they voted in Ahmadinejad in a fit of pique.