CNN's David Gergen gushed over Barack Obama during CNN's coverage of the President's press conference on Friday, but was unimpressed by his performance: "He impresses everyone with his competence....The subtlety of his mind I think is very impressive. At the same time, I thought it was...boring." Minutes later, Roland Martin replied to Gergen by rushing to Obama's defense: "He's not an entertainer."
Anchor John King brought on some of the network's "best political team on television," including Gergen and Martin, 19 minutes into the 12 noon hour, immediately after the President's briefing concluded. King turned to the senior political analyst first and asked, "David, a lot of ground covered- what did you come away with?"
Gergen, who once compared Obama to a damsel in distress, and was left in awe of how "articulate" the President was during an earlier press conference in 2009, immediately launched into his lauds about the President's "competence" and "subtlety of mind," but almost within the same breath, changed gears:
GERGEN: Well, John, he- once again, he impresses everyone with his competence. He has capacity to deal with a range of issues. The subtly of his mind I think is very impressive. At the same time, I thought it was mostly passionless, and frankly, boring, as it went on and on until that last question on the mosque, and then it came alive. And I think the President- that's going to be- his statements today- very passionate, controversial, but he took a much clearer stand in favor of the mosque going there than anything he said in the past.
Four minutes later, anchor Candy Crowley theorized that "part of the reason that the administration held this news conference is the President has got to get all of those people who voted for him in 2008 to come out and vote for Democrats in 2010." She then asked Martin, "Did you see anything in this news conference where you think voters went- yeah, I've got to get out and go to those polls?"
Martin wholeheartedly agreed with Crowley's theory about the press conference, and then replied to Gergen, acting as an apologist for the President, even while giving some mild critiques:
MARTIN: Well, I think- first of all, remember, we're in the midst of the NFL kicking off this weekend, and so, I'll use a football analogy. He's the quarterback- while doing that, go Houston Texans- he is the quarterback. He has to set the tone, and so, part of the problem here, he- the White House and Democrats have been off. And so, when he comes out and says- look, I will sign this bill this month, as it relates to middle class tax cuts, what are you going to do, what do you want to do? That's the way of doing that. He also, I think, broke down, in a sense, what the Democrats have to articulate, and that is, how bad of a situation we were in walking to the door, and how we are on this road to progress. And I think he could have been more clear by saying- look, Republicans constantly have thrown up roadblocks, they constantly are saying no, blocking appointments- they want to block progress. That's really what he was trying to do there.
But let me also address something that David said. David talked about- well, you know, the nuance and what he said- you know, and it was boring. Well, you know what? He's not an entertainer. And so, I never get the sense, watching the President, that the President really should be entertaining and really should come out- you know, guns blazing. He is going to talk about policy and these issues. And so, I listen to anybody out of Washington, D.C.- I'm really not looking for somebody who is going to just enamor me- you know, in terms of how great they are. They're going to talk about things in a substantive way. And so, that's really how I took it, and I think anybody who is wanting the President to say something- you know, when it comes to policy, you got that, not entertainment.
It's not surprising that Martin would respond this way, as he was one of CNN's resident Obama spokesman during the 2008 presidential campaign.