MSNBC’s O’Donnell and Politico’s VandeHei Praise Obama the ‘Rock Star’

Norah O'Donnell and Jim VandeHei, MSNBC At the top of the 3:00PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O’Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O’Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."

Later, O’Donnell compared Obama to Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break... Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

3:00PM SEGMENT:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Joining me now is Jim VandeHei, executive editor for Politico. And Jim, there were low expectations, perhaps that the White House put out, going into this summit. Today, the President hailed it as 'historic, unprecedented,' and of course, they're talking about a 'superpump into the world economy' of more than a trillion dollars. Can we gauge this meeting as a success?

JIM VANDEHEI: I think early indications are it probably was a big success. I think it'll take time to figure out if these measures were enough. You know, a lot of folks in the Obama administration really would have liked to have seen all the countries commit to more short term stimulus. I think that would have a huge effect on getting the worldwide economy rolling again. But there was agreements to at least up the amount of money that flows through the IMF and through the World Bank to help out other countries that are struggling. There was a very strong statement in favor of free trade and against protectionism, which he thinks can help companies here like caterpillar, that do a lot of exporting and those companies that are struggling, especially smaller companies in the United States. So I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas-

O'DONNELL: Yeah.

VANDEHEI: -and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception around the world.

O'DONNELL: You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment.

VANDEHEI: Right.

O'DONNELL: I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour.

VANDEHEI: Right.

O'DONNELL: Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there and there was also the drama, because we had this indication that the French President, of course, Sarkozy was going to walk out, it was tense inside the summit and of course there were these early reports, not only about the resistence from the French, but the Germans.

VANDEHEI: Germans, right.

O'DONNELL: But Obama said today that in the end, they all came together, let's listen to what he said about that.

VANDEHEI: Good.

BARACK OBAMA: It's hard for 20 heads of states to bridge their differences. We've all got our own national policies, we all have our own assumptions, our own political cultures. But our citizens are all hurting. They all need us to come together.

O'DONNELL: How much of this was Obama's star power bringing people together, or was this long-planned, essentially, by the Sherpas, that they were going to have some sort of big agreement like this? They had to?

VANDEHEI: Well, you can't get -- you can't get 20 people in the room and all of a sudden come to some magical consensus. A lot of this stuff was pre-cooked, They knew where they could get consensus and where they could not get consensus. And I think the fact that they're able to at least talk with one voice, for the most part, on helping out struggling companies, on knocking down the walls of protectionism, you know, they'll hail that as victory. The -- we won't know, I mean just like the economic recovery here, we won't know if this stuff works for some time. The truth is, we don't know if there's enough stimulus going into other countries, such as Germany and France, to help pull those comp -- countries up fast enough to sort of keep pace with our stimulus spending. Because so much of the world is intertwined and you need that capital flowing from several different directions to really lift up all the countries. I think it was really interesting that President Obama said 'hey, I think the patient is starting to recover. We stopped the bleeding.' That all of these collective remedies are starting to work. So I thought that was quite noteworthy.

O'DONNELL: Yeah, his -- his metaphor about the patient, where a patient could still have an emergency.

VANDEHEI: Right.

O'DONNELL: Where there -- where there is further treatment needed in the future. Also, I think it's not just an economic turning point. That's what they wanted to talk about. But there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington. Let's listen to that.

BARACK OBAMA: Is sort of a term of art about a certain set of policies surrounding globalization. And the application of a cookie cutter model to economic growth, trade liberalization, deregulation, that, you know, was popular and did help globalize and grow the economy and -- and was led by some of our leading economists and policymakers in Washington.

O'DONNELL: Let's turn to that discussion that just I set up with a question, though. How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?

VANDEHEI: Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break. Because he has, I think, a different world view than President Bush did. Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him. I think the proof is going to be, as we move on and we start to have the crisis that every single president faces, whether it's a showdown with Iran or tensions with a nuclear North Korea, or more -- even more turmoil in Pakistan. If he's able to leverage these relationships or harness the spirit of cooperation to a real useful purpose for the United States. And we won't know that. Most -- as you know, all of these things when you go overseas, they're often -- there aren't that many hitches. They often are choreographed ahead of time. And you kind of know what, at least, the basic outlines of the outcome will be. So it'll take time to see what the value we actually get from these relationships. But so far, so good, it seems, for him.

O'DONNELL: Jim VandeHei, with Politico. Jim, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

VANDEHEI: Take care, Norah, bye.

O'DONNELL: You too.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC