Couric Pushes 'Out of Touch' GOP to Be 'More Supportive' of Obama

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod made the rounds of the broadcast network evening newscast anchors on Tuesday to discuss President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress, but CBS's Katie Couric, in uniquely offering some balance by matching Axelrod with a segment featuring House Minority Leader John Boehner, only served to expose her impatience toward GOP opposition. With Axelrod, she cued him up to expound on the administration's policies, pressed him about nationalizing banks and empathized with the terrible conditions inherited by Obama's team. In contrast, with Boehner she wondered if Republicans are “out of touch,” suggested they are stuck between having either the country or their base “hate” them and asked:
Do you think the Republicans are digging themselves in a hole by not being more supportive of the President's proposals?
Couric prompted Axelrod to explain how the administration will overcome criticism of the mortgage plan: “How do you explain that this is not going to be helping out somebody's brother-in-law who put down no money, spent too much money on his house and basically cut corners while other families feel like, 'listen, we did everything right.'?” She soon lamented what Bush left behind: “When you were running this campaign did you ever envision inheriting this job at a time when the country is in such deep trouble?”

Interviewing Boehner, Couric cited some poll numbers and then demanded: “Are you out of touch with the American people?” She made Boehner react to an Obama operative's formulation of how not doing what President Obama wants means “the country will hate” Republicans:
One high-ranking White House official told me today: When it comes to Republicans on Capitol Hill the administration plans to hug them until it hurts. If you hug back your base will hate you and if you don't hug back the country will hate you. What's your reaction?
Couric's questions to Axelrod, as aired on the Tuesday, February 24 CBS Evening News, after she set up the segment: “This afternoon I asked him how Mr. Obama will underscore the gravity of the situation and yet make Americans optimistic about the future?”
- There seems to be some trepidation, even anger, about the mortgage bailout plan. How do you explain that this is not going to be helping out somebody's brother-in-law who put down no money, spent too much money on his house and basically cut corners while other families feel like, 'listen, we did everything right.'?”

- But what about people who just cut corners and put no money down and spent way too much money?

- What about nationalizing some of the banks? Have you ruled that out?

- Isn't owning shares of CitiBank technically nationalization?

- When you were running this campaign did you even envision inheriting this job at a time when the country is in such deep trouble?
Couric's questions to Boehner:
- Leader Boehner, how do you think President Obama's speech will be received tonight by members of your party?

- A recent CBS News poll shows that 53 percent of the American people fully backs the stimulus package, 63 percent of people we polled thought the Republican opposition to the stimulus package was for political reasons. So, are you out of touch with the American people?

- President Obama says he wants to cut the deficit in half in four years. Do you believe that's realistic?

- One high-ranking White House official told me today: When it comes to Republicans on Capitol Hill the administration plans to hug them until it hurts. If you hug back your base will hate you and if you don't hug back the country will hate you. What's your reaction?

- Do you think the Republicans are digging themselves in a hole by not being more supportive of the President's proposals?
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center