NBCers Giddy Over Obama Being 'Big Sheriff in Town' Ahead of State of the Union

During a panel discussion on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on Friday, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory touted President Obama's swagger leading up to Tuesday's State of the Union address: "He's coming at this with a very ambitious agenda at a time when he's feeling pretty confident...You come into the start of your second term, you say, 'Okay, I'm going to walk with a bit more strength in my gate here.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Host Andrea Mitchell imagined Obama declaring: "I'm the big sheriff in town." The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza gushed: "Well, I mean, look, this is – if there's ever a time where you can say, 'I have been validated'....It's sort of like, 'I won, deal with this reality, and let's move forward.'"

The fawning went so far that liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus actually had to talk her fellow panelists down:

I want to add a little bit of a note of caution to all this presidential huffing and puffing....he's got both a ticking clock and a congress that has, especially on the Republican side, different, you know, way different interests and different political calculations, so he is going to – as much as he might want to sort of swagger, swagger, swagger – things are only going to get done if we meet somewhere in the middle and not – because it's not going to get done on his terms.


Here is a transcript of the February 8 discussion:

1:29PM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address next week on Tuesday night, expanding on the themes of his second inaugural, of course, but with an anticipated bigger focus on budget deadlines, the sequester looming over the White House and the Congress at the end of the month.

Joining me now for our Daily Fix, a special roundtable. NBC's David Gregory, moderator of Meet the Press. Chris Cillizza, MSNBC contributor and managing editor of PostPolitics.com. And Washington Post editorial columnist Ruth Marcus. Welcome all.

David, taking the 30,000 feet view, what do we expect from the President? What's the tone? What's the – you know, how specific, how granular does he get in this speech coming down from the heights of the second inaugural?

DAVID GREGORY: Well, I do think that his political playbook has changed. You see him putting a lot of initiatives out there right now, there's immigration, there's guns, there's the budget issue, working the outside game a lot more strongly than he has. And I think he wants to get out of the business of setting up the idea of a big grand bargain with Republicans that – that may fail. He wants to put a lot out there and work as much of his game.

Not to steel from Chris's piece, though, today, I think he makes a very good point. He's coming at this with a very ambitious agenda at a time when he's feeling pretty confident. I mean, this is a moment of great confidence for any president. You've just won re-election. You come into the start of your second term, you say, "Okay, I'm going to walk with a bit more strength in my gate here."

MITCHELL: "I'm the big sheriff in town."

GREGORY: Yeah.

MITCHELL: Right, Chris?

CHRIS CILLIZZA: Yeah. Well, I mean, look, this is – if there's ever a time where you can say, "I have been validated," you know. You could say, well, '09 – the '08 election was about George Bush, not about – not about Barack Obama. It's hard to say that the 2012 election was about anything other than this was a referendum on Barack Obama and how he had handled his first four years in office. He won, he won by a larger margin, I'll say, than I certainly thought he would. He won by a larger margin than many people thought he would.

So, yeah, David's right. I mean, he's now going in. This is his chance. We've seen it on immigration, guns, his approach to the fiscal cliff, his approach to the debt ceiling. Everything tonally is this is – it's not, "My way or the highway," but it's much more "my way" than, "Hey, let's meet in the middle." It's sort of like, "I won, deal with this reality, and let's move forward." So we'll see. It's actually worked to pretty good effect thus far on things like the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling. Republicans, I think, will try to draw a line somewhere. I'm not sure where yet.

(...)

RUTH MARCUS: Can I go back to the State of the Union? Because I want to add a little bit of a note of caution to all this presidential huffing and puffing. Which is, yes, he was re-elected and re-elected by wide margins, but he has an extraordinarily full agenda. It's felt like a four-ring circus in Washington this week. Immigration, sequester, guns, nominees. And he has a lot of very – he's got both a ticking clock and a congress that has, especially on the Republican side, different, you know, way different interests and different political calculations, so he is going to – as much as he might want to sort of swagger, swagger, swagger – things are only going to get done if we meet somewhere in the middle and not – because it's not going to get done on his terms.

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