MSNBC's Wagner, Politico's Haberman Downplay Obama's 'Can't Change Washington' Admission

Yesterday in the midst of defending his record in a tough interview with Univision, President Barack Obama said that he learned in his term in the Oval Office that "you can't change Washington from the inside" but only from the outside and that "that's how [he] got elected," by appealing to a frustrated electorate to vote for change. At a campaign event later in the day, Mitt Romney seized on the gaffe to jab at the president, saying the voters will be glad to send him home in November. whereby the president all but admitted that Washington can be changed by voting out the sitting president.

But have no fear, Team Obama, MSNBC's Alex Wagner and Politico's Maggie Haberman are here to spin heavily in your favor.


"I don't think it is a momentous thing, I don't think this is a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination," Haberman insisted, adding that Romney is looking to change the narrative from his campaign's "bad week" and is seizing on "feeding on... news cycles, chasing one after the other."

For her part, Wagner groused that Romney's use of the quote in isolation ignored proper context as he was simply "conced[ing] the limitations of his presidency."

But here's the full context of what Obama said, as aired by Wagner herself (emphasis mine):

Obviously, the fact that we haven't been able to change the tone in Washington is disappointing. I think that, I've learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside. That's how I got elected, and that's how the big accomplishments like health care got done, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out.

So Obama was arguing that he did accomplish much in his first two years in office, before the midterms, because the Obama 2008 election "mobilized the American people to speak out."

But what happened in the midterms? Well, the change Obama's 2008 election swept into Washington proved to be unpopular and Republicans, uh, "mobilized the American people to speak out."

The electorate, angry at ObamaCare and a massive explosion in federal spending, turned the keys to the U.S. House over to Republicans and diminished the numbers of Democrats in charge of the U.S. Senate. Congress was changed from the outside, but not enough to reverse unpopular Obama policies such as ObamaCare.

President Obama admitted the obvious: frustration with Obama's handling of the reins of government will not change with him being granted a second term. Change is in the hands of the electorate, and November is that opportunity for the electorate to do so. To deny that is to border on if not transgress the outer bounds of intellectual honesty.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters