Mandela Tribute from NBC's Gregory Turns Into Obama Love Letter

On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, host David Gregory used the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela to lecture American politicians: "Mandela refused to be consumed by hatred and insisted on working toward a common purpose with his political foes. That, seems to me, is what is missing from this era of argument in Washington." [Listen to the audio]

However, Gregory portrayed President Obama as the victim of such polarization, rather than one of its instigators: "The election of our 44th president was similarly an example of how countries can overcome their past....Yet, President Obama has struggled since he made history. He still aspires to achieve political consensus on some of the country's most pressing challenges."

Gregory went so far as to compare Obama's difficulties to those of Mandela: "Mandela also faced obstacles. And while Obama only met the South African leader once, Mister Obama clearly understands the meaning of Mandela."

Since when has Obama "insisted on working toward a common purpose with his political foes"?

Here is a full transcript of the December 8 remarks:

10:58AM ET

DAVID: GREGORY: We're back with our special Meet the Press in-depth look at Nelson Mandela. The question I've heard most this week since Mandela's death is, what his example could teach Washington? Throughout his life, Mandela refused to be consumed by hatred and insisted on working toward a common purpose with his political foes. That, seems to me, is what is missing from this era of argument in Washington.  

President Obama eulogized Mandela late Thursday afternoon, describing how Mandela inspired his own political awakening.

BARACK OBAMA: The day he was released from prison, he gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears.

GREGORY: And the election of our 44th president was similarly an example of how countries can overcome their past. Yet, President Obama has struggled since he made history. He still aspires to achieve political consensus on some of the country's most pressing challenges.  Mandela also faced obstacles. And while Obama only met the South African leader once, Mister Obama clearly understands the meaning of Mandela.

I was in college when Mandela was freed from prison. In 1990, I traveled to Oakland to see him during his visit to the U.S. on a victory tour, of sorts. He thanked the tens of thousands gathered in the hot sun at the Oakland Coliseum for their support in toppling South Africa's white racist regime. The pure joy felt throughout the crowd as he spoke is what I will always remember.

At a time of such deep distrust in government, I welcome this moment to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela as a figure who can inspire human beings to be better people. He exuded patience, principle, and pragmatism as a politician; as well as grace as a person. Even after so much had been taken from him, he kept his heart open and changed the world.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.