Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts Defend Obama's Lack of Super Committee Leadership

There was a rather telling moment on ABC's This Week Sunday.

When during the Roundtable segment the Washington Post's Michael Gerson criticized Barack Obama for his lack of leadership involving the now failed Super Committee, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts quickly came to the President's defense (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Let me ask both of you, Mike and Sam, both of your perspectives from inside the White House. Obviously, there's been from the opposite side a lot of criticism of President Obama. They say that he didn't come, bring the leadership together and get a deal done. Even Michael Bloomberg has been saying that. Certainly Mitt Romney did. Let's just put up what Mitt Romney said. Let's hear what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP):

MITT ROMNEY: I would have anticipated that the President of the United States would have spent every day and many nights working with members of the Super Committee to try and find a way to bridge the gap. But instead he's been out doing other things, campaigning and blaming and traveling. This is in my view inexcusable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: From the perspective of the administration.

MICHAEL GERSON, WASHINGTON POST: It's a serious point. The budget process that was designed in 1974 was designed for presidential leadership. The Congress reacts to the president's priorities. If you look at past budget deals, whether Reagan or Bush One or Clinton, these were active presidents. You had to have an energetic executive to get a budget deal. And we’ve really had a power outage here, a president that alternates between indifference and being out of the country.

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, some of it was out of the country, to be fair, was dealing with foreign leaders and preset meetings.


So in Roberts' view, meeting with foreign dignitaries was more important for the President than solving the nation's looming fiscal crisis. Would she have been so forgiving if Obama were Republican?

GERSON: But he was not engaged in this process, and most Democrats on the Hill would tell you that as well.

SAM DONALDSON: You’ve accurately, I believe, described what’s happened in the past when budget deals were made between a president and another party on the Hill. This was different. This committee was set up by Congress, and expressly – you won’t find it in the legislation – all of them said, “We want the President to butt out, we're going to take this. Don't have him come down here and try to tell us what to do.”

That's a stretch. The Super Committee was part of debt ceiling legislation signed by the President in August. For Donaldson to now claim it was expected the President have nothing to do with it for the subsequent three months is preposterous.

Beyond this, the President is indeed the most powerful person in the land. If he wanted to engage in this process and ensure that a deal got done he would have.

Suggesting otherwise is a former White House correspondent being transparently partisan.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC: We have to acknowledge that Romney is an imperfect messenger here. I mean, Romney avoided taking any position on the debt ceiling itself until right before the vote. He offered no plan to the super committee.

Et tu, Jonathan? Et tu?

ROBERTS: The other thing that's true is that in 1992 when George Bush did engage with the Congress out at Andrews Air Force Base, and made a deal where he had to break his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, he got defeated.

So Roberts is now condoning Obama's lack of involvement in this process to preserve the potential for his reelection.

And this is the kind of impartial, enlightened analysis we can now expect from Donaldson and Roberts who both clearly need to be put out to pasture except for significant This Week anniversaries when they can get together to reminisce about the good old days when they actually added to the political debate.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.