Couric on Obama: 'Better at Making Us Smarter than Making Us Angry,' 83% Back Obama

Following President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, on CBS Katie Couric revealed her reading interests as she endorsed the take on Obama from a liberal New York Times columnist: “Well, as Tom Friedman said, 'he's better at making us smarter than making us angry.'” (Friedman's actual assertion in his January 27 column: “He is so much better at making us smarter than angrier.”)

Then, after the Republican response, Anthony Mason recited as relevant the very skewed findings of a CBS News/Knowledge Networks online poll only of those who watched Obama, nonetheless touting how 83 percent approve of Obama's “proposals made in his speech,” with disapproval from a piddling 17 percent. As evidence Obama “may have made up sound ground” with the public, Mason juxtaposed how for “shares your priorities for the country” Obama jumped to 70 percent for viewers of his speech compared to the 57 percent determined in an earlier national survey. (The online posting contends both numbers are just for those who watched.)

Couric's “he's better at making us smarter than making us angry” came after Jeff Greenfield proposed: “I think he was trying to remind people of the Barack Obama they liked in 2008 and saying 'this is who I am,' because the idea of Barack Obama putting on boxing gloves and turning into Harry Truman is just not going to fly.”

From live CBS News coverage at about 10:23 PM EST on Wednesday night, a discussion about how well Obama was able to “reconnect” I was alerted to by the MRC's Kyle Drennen:
BOB SCHIEFFER: The President tonight was not just trying to reconnect, he was trying to let people know that, “yes, I know you're cynical, yes, I know you think Washington is broken, yes, I think you believe that the process isn't working. I'm with you.” He was trying to connect with them. In parts of his speech it was almost like he was running against himself, but he was very assertive tonight. This is a President, Katie, that you well know, who's been accused of being too cerebral, too professorial, sort of above it all.

KATIE COURIC: Like running a think tank instead of the White House.

SCHIEFFER: And tonight you saw a much different approach by this President. Does it work? I don't know. But we saw a different approach by this President.

JEFF GREENFIELD: I was actually struck on the other side. While he was trying to use the word “fight” once or twice, this was very much like he was in the campaign. He went five or ten minutes without a single applause line. He said “let me tell you how we got into this mess,” he reached out and said to people “I'm not giving up my idea that we can change the tone of politics.” So, yes, while he was trying to say he was connecting, I think he was trying to remind people of the Barack Obama they liked in 2008 and saying “this is who I am,” because the idea of Barack Obama putting on boxing gloves and turning into Harry Truman is just not going to fly.

COURIC: Well, as Tom Friedman said, “he's better at making us smarter than making us angry.”
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