President Barack Obama's approval level has fallen to well below 50
percent, but instead of attributing that to independents rejecting his
liberal policies, CBS's Harry Smith, in an interview with Obama
conducted Friday and aired on the Sunday Morning program, contended
events beyond Obama's control have conspired to undermine him. Referring
to Inauguration Day, Smith proposed:
Maybe the promise that was assigned him on that cold, clear January day exceeded the reality ahead. A near depression. And a discouraging war still left to fight.
Smith began with how "President Obama was in the Motor City to toot
his own horn, to tell the story that, without his leadership, things
would be worse. U.S. auto makers have added 55,000 jobs since last June,
the strongest job growth in more than ten years in the auto industry."
He soon cued up Obama: "Do you feel sometimes like your administration is not given the credit it deserves?" Smith proceeded to tout the "humor" he displayed on ABC's The View where his explanation that he inherited a worse economy than realized showed him "resuming his role as 'explainer-in-chief.'"
Smith provided Obama with the criticism of his opponents, but Smith wasn't buying it as he seemingly mocked the anti-Obama reasoning:
But the noise out there in the world is the reason all these corporations are sitting on this almost $2 trillion of cash, they say it's Obama's fault, right? "He's a regulator, he likes big government. We don't know what he's going to do with taxes. It's all you. You're the thing that's stopping the economic engine from really turning over."
More of Smith and Obama will run on Monday's Early Show.
Earlier, from Smith's previous session with Obama back on April 1:
The complete segment on the August 1 CBS Sunday Morning, transcript
provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who corrected the closed-captioning
against the video:
CHARLES OSGOOD: A year-and-a-half into his presidency, Barack Obama is facing some tough challenges now at home and abroad. He talked about them the other day in an interview with Harry Smith of the Early Show.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Detroit!
HARRY SMITH: Friday afternoon, Hamtramck, Michigan, a General Motors plant.
OBAMA: Today for the first time since 2004, all three U.S. auto makers are operating at a profit. First time in six years.
SMITH: President Obama was in the Motor City to toot his own horn, to tell the story that, without his leadership, things would be worse.
OBAMA: U.S. auto makers have added 55,000 jobs since last June, the strongest job growth in more than 10 years in the auto industry.
SMITH TO OBAMA: Do you feel sometimes like your administration is not given the credit it deserves?
OBAMA: Yes. Look, but here's the reason. We've gone through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. No other recession comes close. People have every right to be scared, to be angry, to be frustrated. And I don't expect the American people to be satisfied when we're only half of the way back.
SMITH With approval ratings in the 40s, an economy that is displaying a failure to thrive, and unemployment numbers that barely budge, the President is back on the road. And back on the air. With humor.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST OF ABC'S THE VIEW: Should Snooki run as mayor of Wasilla?
OBAMA, ON THE VIEW: I got to admit I don't know who Snooki is.
SMITH: Resuming his role as "explainer-in-chief."
OBAMA: Here's what happened. First of all, the recession was much worse than I think anybody anticipated. This has been an extraordinary downturn. So that means that if you're in a deeper hole, it's going to take longer to come back. And if we can now say to ourselves despite the traumas of the last two years, things are actually poised to rebound strong and we can get confidence back. I'm confident actually that we're going to grow faster.
SMITH: But U.S. corporations are sitting on piles of cash - nearly $2 trillion worth - waiting for that Goldilocks moment when it's just right to invest again. But the noise out there in the world is the reason all these corporations are sitting on this almost $2 trillion of cash, they say it's Obama's fault, right? "He's a regulator, he likes big government. We don't know what he's going to do with taxes. It's all you. You're the thing that's stopping the economic engine from really turning over."
OBAMA: Well, you know, one of the things when you're President is folks are going to, you know, direct attention when things aren't going right for them at you.
SMITH: If there is a perception gap between the President's sagging popularity ratings and a performance the White House believes is praiseworthy, it is soon to be put to the test.
SMITH TO OBAMA: You have congressional elections coming up in just a couple of months, and, whether you like it or not, this ends up being a referendum on you. If you had to give yourself an assessment for these first 18 months, how would you grade yourself?
OBAMA: Look it's incomplete because until the economy has rebounded fully and people are feeling better, we've got a long way to go. But when I look back on what we've accomplished in the last 18 months, preventing the country sinking into a great depression, stabilizing the financial markets, saving the U.S. auto industry, oh, and, by the way, passing health care, I'd say that's a pretty good track record. But until the unemployment rate is down and the economy is where it needs to be, I'm not going to be satisfied.
SMITH: Maybe the promise that was assigned him on that cold, clear January day exceeded the reality ahead. A near depression. And a discouraging war still left to fight.
OBAMA: Nobody thinks that Afghanistan is going to be a model Jeffersonian democracy. What we're looking to do is difficult, very difficult. But it's a fairly modest goal - which is don't allow terrorists to operate from this region, don't allow them to create big training camps to plan attacks against the U.S. homeland with impunity. That can be accomplished.
SMITH: As we end July, it's the most deadly month for U.S. troops since the war began in 2001. For the families, the men and women who are being sent to Afghanistan, can you promise those families that the sacrifice of their loved ones is worth the fight?
OBAMA: If I didn't think that it is important for our national security to finish the job in Afghanistan, then I would pull them all out today because I have to sign letters to these family members when a loved one is lost.
SMITH: We often think of politics as a sport. But no one would confuse governing with a game. The stakes are too high. Still, the President is not all work and no play. When your day is closing down from the standpoint of operating as commander-in-chief, all of the worries of day-to-day government, what is the one thing you most look forward to when you leave the Oval Office and head into the family quarters in the White House?
OBAMA: That's easy, I mean, sitting down with my girls for dinner. That's a prize. And it reminds me of why I do what I do. Because I want to make sure that when they've got kids that, you know, we've got an America that's strong. And I think we will.
SMITH: Yet problems abound. The Gulf oil spill, immigration reform. He will speak about both tomorrow morning on the Early Show.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow him on Twitter.