CNN Panel Lauds Obama's 'Marvelous,' 'Iconic' Address

CNN hosts were wowed by President Obama's second inaugural address on Monday afternoon, and the love kept coming on Monday evening when a CNN panel gushed over the "marvelous" and "iconic" address in the vein of Martin Luther King and Lincoln.

"And now he's come along with a statement that firmly addresses a progressive, liberal agenda that's very much in the tradition of King and of Lincoln, and he has rallied his base," said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

"I thought it was a marvelous speech and it's brave and it's bold and I think it's going to play well in history. Not enough people are talking about the climate change part," offered liberal historian Douglas Brinkley.

Openly-gay host Anderson Cooper focused on the President's comparison of the push for gay rights with the civil rights struggles:

"That was really historic. To hear the President of the United States mention the word Stonewall in the same sentence as Selma, in the same sentence as Seneca Falls, certainly for gay and lesbian Americans, that is a stunning statement and a real leap forward for gay and lesbian Americans."

Brinkley chimed in that it was "gigantic" and the speech was "iconic":

"Gigantic. And he connected it all to the patriots of 1776 that we keep widening in our democracy. And he made those places almost like battlefield spots in American history, like Oxford, Mississippi, or Normandy or Iwo Jima. And it's an iconic speech."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Anderson Cooper 360 on January 22 at 10:04 p.m. EST, is as follows:

DAVID GERGEN, CNN senior political analyst: It was the clearest delineation that we've had from him. And I think, Anderson, in many ways, he is liberated. He feels liberated, in part because he inherited this mess and we have gotten most of the way out of it economically and the wars are coming to an end, also because he has tried to reach out to Republicans and tried to be conciliatory, tried to be to the center and thinks that hasn't worked.

And now he's come along with a statement that firmly addresses a progressive, liberal agenda that's very much in the tradition of King and of Lincoln, and he has rallied his base. We will be talking in the next few days about all the negatives and the negative reviews are coming in. But I think today, the day for President Obama, this is a day when he really defined what he believes fundamentally.

COOPER: David, do you think this is -- someone said this is a speech he wished he could have given four years ago, but wasn't able to. How did he seem to you today?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, presidential historian: I thought it was a marvelous speech and it's brave and it's bold and I think it's going to play well in history. Not enough people are talking about the climate change part. There was a healthy paragraph about climate in there right now. And the evidence is in. As he said, the science is in. So, 30, 40 years from now, the fact that he took an inaugural speech and used that kind of time and talked about climate's important, and just making Seneca and Selma and –

COOPER: And Stonewall all in the same sentence –

BRINKLEY: – and Stonewall all in the same sentence will be repeated over and over again as part of American traditions of human rights and civil rights.

COOPER: That was really historic. To hear the President of the United States mention the word Stonewall in the same sentence as Selma, in the same sentence as Seneca Falls, certainly for gay and lesbian Americans, that is a stunning statement and a real leap forward for gay and lesbian Americans.

BRINKLEY: Gigantic. And he connected it all to the patriots of 1776 that we keep widening in our democracy. And he made those places almost like battlefield spots in American history, like Oxford, Mississippi, or Normandy or Iwo Jima. And it's an iconic speech.

GERGEN: That's what I was going to say, Anderson. Time and again, when presidents have come here for the inaugurals, when they've cited heroes, they have been military heroes. And for him now to come and talk about Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall and bring them all together is much more about a diverse, inclusive America with an emphasis on the equality of opportunity, not upon liberty. A Republican would have traditionally given a speech about liberty.

COOPER: Because Stonewall was a group of people who were the most marginalized in society and sort of the most shunned who weren't even allowed to congregate together in a bar at the same time without getting harassed and arrested.

BRINKLEY: Stonewall from 1969 has been considered almost alternative left history for a while. Now gay studies has come into the fold. Here the President of the United States on Martin Luther King Day is giving it that kind of oxygen. It's a very big moment for gay America.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014