Newsweek’s Alter: Obama ‘Prevented Another Great Depression,’ ‘Sweeping Up’ Bush’s ‘S****’

Appearing on Monday’s The Colbert Report on Comedy Central to promote his book, "The Promise," MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter – also of Newsweek – asserted that President Barack Obama had "prevented another Great Depression," and declared that Obama had it more difficult than Franklin Delano Roosevelt because he had to "sweep up" like a "shovel brigade" after President Bush, as he used a word that had to be bleeped out for airing. Alter: "He proceeded to make history almost right away, not only because he was the first African-American elected President ... we were all living history. This man prevented another Great Depression."

He soon added: "At the beginning, FDR only had to deal with domestic problems. Obama was left to run what you could call a shovel brigade, you know, the guys who sweep up after the elephants when the elephants leave their s- (BLEEP) all over the circus, right? ... Roosevelt didn't have to deal with foreign policy when he became President. Obama had to deal with a whole nother mess, one of Bush's messes, in Afghanistan."

The MSNBC analyst made a similar assertion as he also appeared as a guest on the same night’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, and seemed to suggest that Obama is "frustrated" at having to clean u Bush’s "messes." Alter: "He`s frustrated. It`s always the shovel brigade, you know, cleaning up after the elephants when they leave the circus, whether it`s Wall Street, auto industry, Afghanistan – which was much worse – or this. He`s cleaning up Bush`s messes."

Alter, who has admitted in the past to disagreeing with conservatives 95 percent of the time, also notably did not voice any objection either time host Colbert ribbed him by calling him a "liberal." The interview began:

STEPHEN COLBERT: Hey, Jon. Good to have you on. Well, sir, here you are again, the liberal elite in the lion's den.

(AUDIENCE LAUGHS LIGHTLY)

JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK: There you go.

After Alter used an obscenity to describe the troubles he claimed President Bush had left for his successor, Colbert retorted: " Wow. You liberals sure have salty talk."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, June 7, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, followed by the relevant portion of the same day's Joy Behar Show on HLN:

#From The Colbert Report on Comedy Central:

STEPHEN COLBERT: Hey, Jon. Good to have you on. Well, sir, here you are again, the liberal elite in the lion's den.

(AUDIENCE LAUGHS LIGHTLY)

JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK: There you go.

COLBERT: The book is "The Promise: President Obama’s First Year." First of all, congratulations. This thing I understand is number four on the New York Times bestseller list.

ALTER: You are correct, sir.

COLBERT: Right ahead of Newt Gingrich’s "To Save America."

ALTER: Yes.

COLBERT: All right, obviously, you do not care about saving America or else you would let Newt win. Now, I'm torn here because you're a friend of the show.

ALTER: I hope so.

COLBERT: Are you?

ALTER: I believe so, yes, I hope.

COLBERT: Now, I've asked Newt to come on and he hasn't.

ALTER: Well, that's his problem.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: America, we're going with this one.

ALTER: Yes! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) I’m gonna get the Colbert bump!

COLBERT: We're giving it the Colbert bump.

ALTER: Fantastic!

COLBERT: All right, what is, what do you mean by "The Promise"? What, if I may, is the premise of "The Promise"?

ALTER: Well, the premise of "The Promise" is that he came to office with some of the highest expectations of any President ever, a man of great promise. He proceeded to make history almost right away, not only because he was the first African-American elected President-

COLBERT: By inspiring the Tea Parties.

ALTER: Well, he did do that.

COLBERT: Right, we wouldn’t have them if it wasn’t for Barack Obama. What else did he do?

ALTER: In the interview, he talks to me about that, that he inspired what he called the tea baggers. He meant the Tea Party.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COLBERT: I'm sure he did. I'm sure he did. This is a sit-down with the President, then?

ALTER: Yes, it is. But I mostly talked to his aides, the Vice President, all the top people around him to try to paint a picture of how he made decisions in this historic time, Stephen. You know, this was, we were all living history. This man prevented another Great Depression. If we had stayed on the course that we were on-

COLBERT: Maybe, maybe, maybe.

ALTER: -we would have been in a depression.

COLBERT: We’ll never know, Jon, because he prevented it.

ALTER: That’s true.

COLBERT: Can't prove your points. Can’t prove a negative.

ALTER: It’s a counterfactual.

COLBERT: Exactly.

ALTER: And that's one reason why he hasn't gotten more credit. If we’s stayed on the path we were on when he took office – we were losing 740,000 jobs a month – we would have been in another depression by the end of 2009.

COLBERT: And then he would have something to pull us out of. I think he blew it. I think politically he blew it on that one.

ALTER: FDR had it easier than Obama did in that sense.

COLBERT: What are you talking about, FDR had it easier?

ALTER: Politically.

COLBERT: He had Nazis. Obama doesn't have Nazis.

ALTER: Well, you know what? He didn't for another eight years after he came in. So, at the beginning, FDR only had to deal with domestic problems. Obama was left to run what you could call a shovel brigade, you know, the guys who sweep up after the elephants when the elephants leave their s- (BLEEP) all over the circus, right?

COLBERT: Wow. You liberals sure have salty talk. By the way, would you care for a cherry? How would you identify, what kind would you say these are?

ALTER: I think they might be bing cherries.

COLBERT: Yes, they're actually Reniere’s. Bings aren't in season.

ALTER: Roosevelt didn't have to deal with foreign policy when he became President. Obama had to deal with a whole nother mess, one of Bush's messes, in Afghanistan, and I try to tell that story.

...

COLBERT: Jon, why can't the President get mad?

ALTER: He has a kind of an icy fury. It's scarier for the people around him.

COLBERT: He’s like a McDLT. He keeps the hot side hot and the cold side cold. Jon Alter, thank you so much. The book is "The Promise," and I promise we're giving this the bump.

#From the Joy Behar Show on HLN:

JONATHAN ALTER: Everybody wants him to deck somebody, you know, very satisfying. He`s not really into gestures. And he, you know, his problem, the thing that makes him frustrated, he does get pretty ticked off about it in private, but it`s kind of an icy fury.

JOY BEHAR: But you know what, Jonathan, that`s why I voted for the guy, because he is calm and pragmatic. Let me get mad. Let everybody get mad. You solve the problem. That`s how I see it.

ALTER: And thinks, he said, you know, the other day to Larry King, it`s not about my anger. That`s not, this is about plugging a hole and handling the cleanup. And so I do think he should be judged by results. He`s confident enough in the American people, he thinks they will, but he`s frustrated. It`s always the shovel brigade, you know, cleaning up after the elephants when they leave the circus, whether it`s Wall Street, auto industry, Afghanistan – which was much worse – or this. He`s cleaning up Bush`s messes.

BEHAR: The elephants, isn`t that the Republican party, the elephants? Hello!