George Stephanopoulos Laments Obama's Inability to Help Democrats

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday appeared frustrated that perceived successes by Barack Obama have failed to help his own party. The former Democratic operative turned journalist interviewed current Democratic operative James Carville and complained, "You know, you've seen over the last month health care passes. Jobs are being created. The President has an arms control agreement with the Russians."

Stephanopoulos added, "Yet, nothing seems to move these [poll] numbers." Back on March 1, 2010, the morning show host was more hopeful.

He repeated liberal talking points about the effect passing health care would have: "...The Democrats in the White House who are pushing for this strategy, pushing for passage, say that once this does pass, the country will get it. Democrats will be unified. They'll get a huge benefit."

On Thursday, Stephanopoulos again cited the White House and seemed to declare Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court a done deal: "But, you know, the White House has this 48-hour rule, saying that the nominations are won and loss in the first 48 hours. Is this one already over?"

How did the then-host of This Week react to the early days of John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court. On the July 24, 2005 edition of the program, he touted Democratic options:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats do have a dilemma here,...You can look at [Roberts] and say, 'You know what? He is well qualified, he is well liked. He's got great credentials. Let's give him a pass so say we were reasonable and fight hard on the next one.' The other philosophy is, 'No, you got to brush him back now to send a message to the White House.'"

On the same program, Stephanopoulos did allow that the Roberts pick might be headed towards a "coronation." On Thursday, however, there was no talk of "sending a message" to Obama.

The host did at least acknowledged reality. Talking to Carville and Republican Bay Buchanan, he observed, "But, then you dig into it and say when you just talk to the voters most likely to show up at the polls in November, a huge, huge advantage for the Republicans. 56 for the Republicans. Only 36 for Democrats. James Carville, this is the worst warning sign yet for the Democrats."

A transcript of the May 13 segment, which aired at 7:07am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to politics. As the President's latest nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan made her courtesy calls on Capitol Hill yesterday. A new poll out just this morning shows that the Democratic majority in Congress could be in more jeopardy than ever. Here to debate all that this morning, our dueling strategists, James Carville for the Democrats. Bay Buchanan for the Republicans. Welcome to you both. And let me start out with that poll in the Wall Street Journal. It shows that when voters look ahead to the November midterm election, they're split over whether or not they want Democrats or Republicans to control the Congress. 44 to 44. But, then you dig into it and say when you just talk to the voters most likely to show up at the polls in November, a huge, huge advantage for the Republicans. 56 for the Republicans. Only 36 for Democrats. James Carville, this is the worst warning sign yet for the Democrats.

JAMES CARVILLE (ABC News contributor): It's not good. And we've consistently shown that in our Democracy Corp polling. There's some evidence that this gap is starting to tighten slightly. But it's going to have to do more than slightly. In the 2012 election, we would do better. But we have to run this in 2010. And the Democrats need a strategy to re-energize some of their voters. This finding is very consistent and very true with other things that I've seen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bay, Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal today that this could be an epic election for the Republicans.

BAY BUCHANAN (Conservative activist): Yeah. I think there is a real problem. I agree with James, no question. But, I'd like to tell you it's all pro-Republican and they want to come our way. But it's really an anti-incumbency, anti-Washington. And that's the Democrats are going to go against what the Democrats have done in the last couple years. And so, Republicans are going to benefit. I'm just hoping that those who do benefit, those Republicans are new, fresh faces and not part of our old establishment. Because America is not interested in bringing back what we gave them for eight years. They want new faces, new energy, new leadership in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, of course, Bay, to prove your point, the republican incumbent in Utah, lost his primary, Bob Bennett over the weekend, to a tea party activist. James Carville, you talk about the Democratic strategy to limit losses. You know, you've seen over the last month health care passes. Jobs are being created. The President has an arms control agreement with the Russians. Yet, nothing seems to move these numbers.

CARVILLE: Well, I think the White House is acutely aware of that. As are other Democratic strategists. I mean, the hope is that job numbers continue to come in at an impressive rate and it starts to. And that's a possibility and one that Democrats have to hold out hope for. And also, that as election day gets closer, that 39 percent of the Democrats are energized as opposed to 56 percent of the Republicans, that that number begins to close. And if that happens, than you can avoid catastrophic losses. But right now, I don't think in fairness, truthfully, you can say the election were held today, we would be faced with that. Democrats would be faced with some staggering losses.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Losing control?

CARVILLE: Oh, yeah. Absolutely possible. If the election were today. But it's not. And the chances that that number closes are much better than it stays open. And the effect of continued job numbers is going to have some effect on the political atmosphere, at least I hope.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's turn-

BUCHANAN: George, George, I think there's a real problem here for Democrats, because what's motivating the voters is this huge debt that we have. This increasing deficit. The incredible unwillingness for Washington to get control over spending. It's outrageous. And people are unnerved by it, as they pull in their belt in communities and states are pulling in theirs. Washington just keeps spending. As if that's the only solution. You can't solve that in the next six months. And I think that's why the voters are going to come to the ballot and say get rid of these guys and bring in somebody who will get control.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's turn to Elena Kagan, the President's nominee for the supreme court. She was making courtesy calls on yesterday. Here she is with Republican Orrin Hatch. Actually, that's-

[Clip of Kagan in Hatch's office]

ELENA KAGAN: It's great to be here. It's a beautiful office.

ORRIN HATCH: You know, there's some nice stuff here. You're going to get mad. There's a Man of the Year for the National Rifle Association. It's a place of art, really.

KAGAN: It's beautiful.

HATCH: It's a handmade flint lock and it's beautiful, beautiful.

KAGAN: It's gorgeous.

[Clip ends]

STEPHANOPOULOS: She's not going to say anything to hurt her chances. But, you know, the White House has this 48-hour rule, saying that the nominations are won and loss in the first 48 hours. Is this one already over?

CARVILLE: This one? Yeah. Barring something that no one's foreseen, I don't think there's a person in the world who would think there's any chance of derailing this nomination. Actually, they might not be too nice to him. They might boo him at some tea party here and there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bay?

BUCHANAN: There's no question, George, she'll be confirmed, in my opinion. But the key is, I don't understand for the life of me, why when the left has control of the Senate, as they do, that obama would not put up one of the best and the brightest. This woman is not one of the finest, you know, liberal judicial minds in the country. She doesn't have any kind of record. She has the blank slate. And she's like a Harriet Miers with a Harvard twist here. You know? I don't understand why they don't get the best and the brightest and fight for one of their Scalias. But, they don't.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you'll find- We're out of time. I think you'll find a lot of Democrats debate that point.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org