Obama 'Grabbed the Center,' Jindal on 'Far Right,' A 'Micro-Cosmic' Fireside Chat?

Some of the odd and/or noteworthy takes in television coverage following President Barack Obama's Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress:
- On MSNBC, Chris Matthews predicted “we're going to hear a fairly right-wing speech tonight,” from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in response to Obama, because “the only position left in America right now politically that he's left open is on the far right, and Bobby Jindal is headed for it,” along with Sarah Palin, since “Barack has grabbed the center with the charm he showed tonight in his excellent rhetoric.”

- ABC's Charles Gibson, who like his broadcast network colleagues refrained from labeling Obama or his speech as liberal, introduced Jindal with an ideological tag: “He is a very conservative Republican and you'll hear that reflected, I think, in his remarks tonight.”

- On CBS, Katie Couric reacted to Obama's speech with some strange “cosmic” analogies, touting how Obama had succeeded in his effort to “really connect the dots, in a way, to explain to people that micro-cosmically this will help them, this is just not a national macro-cosmic plan for the economy.”

- Couric's colleague Jeff Greenfield hailed how “this was actually a fireside chat. This is what I found so fascinating” as “it reminded me, in some sense, of the radio speeches FDR gave where he talked about complicated issues in simple ways.”
Matthews did at least acknowledge that in his speech Obama was saying “I'm a left of center President” and Olbermann echoed how Obama plans to fix things “in a left-wing, in a liberal fashion.”

The closest anyone on ABC, CBS or NBC got to labeling Obama came when Couric, following Jindal, observed that the two speeches displayed the “ideological fault line” in today's politics.

Gibson noted, the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me about the Obama speech, that “this is an expensive speech when you look at it line by line in what he wants to spend.”

MSNBC at about 10:15 PM EST, as provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
KEITH OLBERMANN: There is still the partisanship that Washington will never get rid of. What can the Republican response be, however, to one in which there seemed to be so many themes? How do you come out against recovering the nation's sense of self and its optimism? How do you come out against words like "boldly," "wisely," "swiftly," and "aggressively"?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Keith, my friend, I think we're going to hear that in a few minutes. I think we're going to hear a very negative speech in terms of what we just heard from Bobby Jindal. Bobby Jindal -- I'll say it as I said before the speech tonight by the President -- is running for the outside rail of the Republican Party, the right-wing rail. He is going to try to offer up a sort of Reaganite government-is-bad, big-spending-is-bad, taxes-are-bad, we got to go spend more money on defense, and we have to keep fighting as many wars on as many fronts as possible. I think we're going to hear a fairly right-wing speech tonight in response to this. I think, although I'll say the spine of his speech was left of center, it was done with such charm and good politics, and, as Rachel and yourself have pointed out, it won a hearty response tonight.
The only position left in America right now politically that he's left open is on the far right, and Bobby Jindal is headed for it. So I think there's a confluence of purpose here. The people running for President on the Republican side already are headed to the right – and that includes Governor Palin and Huckabee and this fellow speaking tonight – and that's all the room that's left on that side because Barack has grabbed the center with the charm he showed tonight in his excellent rhetoric.
Jeff Greenfield on CBS, shortly after Couric's remarks about the “micro-cosmically” and “macro-cosmic” aspects of Obama's address:
This was actually a fireside chat. This is what I found so fascinating. From the very first sentence he basically said to the Congress "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to the people who sent us here." And it reminded me, in some sense, of the radio speeches FDR gave where he talked about complicated issues in simple ways. Obama tried to explain how he got into this mess, why will my program make it better. Very intensely personal in the sense of talking to people at home watching one or two at a time in front of their TVs.
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