Barbara Walters' Insightful Question to Michelle Obama: 'You Love' Barack, 'Don't You?'
Asking a wife if she loves her husband isn't exactly the most insightful question, but that's one of the softballs that Barbara Walters tossed to Michelle and Barack Obama during an hour long edition of 20/20 on Friday. She also asked the President if he curses and what Lincoln means to him.
At one point, the journalist lauded Michelle Obama as "comfortable" and "outspoken." Walters then cooed, "You love him very much, don't you?" (The First Lady's unsurprising answer? "Yes, I do.")
Digging for answers, the reporter investigated Mr. Obama, "Do you ever curse?...You pray?" Walters also allowed the President the chance to attack the internet, bringing up insinuations that he's a Muslim: "Why do you think it is that so many people think you're a Muslim and why is that confusion?"
Video below the break
Visiting the White House, Walters also offered an easy question about the nation's 16th President: "When I walk in here, the first thing I see, of course, is the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Mr. President, what does Lincoln mean to you?" (Portions of the interview aired only on the November 26 edition of Nightline.)
In one question, the host managed to congratulate both herself and Mrs. Obama: "Believe it or not, I've interviewed every First Lady since Pat Nixon. A woman tortured by political life whose language was carefully controlled. Unlike many first ladies, Michelle Obama can laugh at herself. Are you sick of people talking about your toned arms?"
Walters did pose a few tough queries, such as wondering, "Mr President, there are some folks who say that you squandered your political capital with the health care plan when you should have been focusing on jobs." But, in addition to prompting the First Lady to express her love for her husband, she also played with the family dog.
[Thanks to MRC intern Matt Hadro for the video.]
A transcript of the November 26 interview, which aired at 11:35pm EST, follows:
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: It's been a November full of bumps and bruises for the White House. But until today, at least, no blood. President Obama is sporting 12 stitches in his lip tonight after being hit by an errant elbow in a pickup basketball game. This afternoon, the President was seen sitting in a window with an ice pack on the lip during the delivery of the White House Christmas tree. The elbow wielder, Ray Decerega of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute said he learned, "the President is both a tough competitor and a good sport." The President believes in the power of prayer, as Barbara Walters learned earlier this week when she sat down with him and the First Lady for their first joint interview in a year.
BARACK OBAMA: All righty.
BARBARA WALTERS: I first interviewed the President and Mrs Obama together two Thanksgivings ago, when Mr Obama had not yet taken office. They teased each other.
BARACK OBAMA: Can I cut? You got a little lipstick on your tooth.
WALTERS: I'm gonna leave this in. I think this is the most natural piece of television they've had. I'm not going to cut this out. I'm gonna leave it. I just think it's so natural. And had optimistic thoughts for the future of the country. Where will we be in this country a year from now on Thanksgiving?
BARACK OBAMA: Here's what I hope: I hope a year from now, people will say, we've been through the worst of it. That the economy is starting to rebound and pick up.
WALTERS: Now they still tease each other, but the economy is sputtering. And, so they're more realistic about the problems that have not yet been solved. Mr President, there are some folks who say that you squandered your political capital with the health care plan when you should have been focusing on jobs.
BARACK OBAMA: This notion that somehow you can only do one thing at once is simply not true. I mean, the fact is, is that we stabilized the financial system. We turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We've added a million jobs over the last year to the economy. We've seen families who have health insurance more secure and they're not being jerked around by arbitrary rules from their insurance companies. That's going to be a lasting legacy that I'm extraordinarily proud of.
WALTERS: Michelle Obama refuses to take the rough and tumble of politics personally. So, what did you say to him the night of November 2nd, when he was, as he put it, shellacked?
MICHELLE OBAMA: I said, let's get to work. There's a lot to do. You know, I think for us, it's always the focus on what we need to get done. The work ahead. And there's so much left to be done that there really isn't time to lick your wounds and worry about what did or didn't happen.
BARACK OBAMA: Now keep in mind that election night, I think she went to sleep, so-
WALTERS: Did you really?
BARACK OBAMA: She goes to sleep early.
WALTERS: Well, I go to bed early. I can't stay awake for the returns. I got to get up, work out. And I can't change it. I voted, I voted weeks before.
WALTERS: So you didn't care whether the Democrats took over the House-
MICHELLE OBAMA: I absolutely cared. But I figured-
WALTERS: You had time to think about it the next day.
MICHELLE OBAMA: It was going to be whatever it was going to be the next day, so I did go to sleep.
WALTERS: He says his wife is his balance wheel. And his closest adviser. You've said that you very often make decisions, asking your wife her opinion. Can you give us an example of when a decision was made that affected something specifically?
BARACK OBAMA: You know, I - I can't give a specific example because every night we sit and talk and there are issues that Michelle has strong opinions about and there are some that she feels less strongly about, but she's always got an opinion. And it shapes how I think and how I view things. I think, you know, Michelle always brags that she's like the every person, you know, she kind of has a sense of, you know, in her mind, at least, how folks are thinking about - a one-person poll.
WALTERS: Believe it or not, I've interviewed every First Lady since Pat Nixon. A woman tortured by political life whose language was carefully controlled. Unlike many first ladies, Michelle Obama can laugh at herself. Are you sick of people talking about your toned arms? I notice you're not wearing a sleeveless dress.
MICHELLE OBAMA: No, I will never get sick of people talking about my toned - if it's a positive compliment, I am a woman, it's like, bring it on. I'm cool with it. But no, I - you know, I - I still wear what I like and enjoy and I thought this dress was pretty. In fact, my husband, you like this dress.
BARACK OBAMA: It's a nice looking dress.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah.
WALTERS: The most comfortable with herself and the most outspoken. You love him very much, don't you?
MICHELLE OBAMA: I do. Yes, I do.
BARACK OBAMA: Yes.
WALTERS: I ask this, because after your husband lost the Democratic primary campaign for Congress in 2000, you wanted him to give up politics.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Oh, yes.
WALTERS: Yeah. And you talked about it openly. It affected your marriage, you wanted him to get out of it. Is there ever a moment when you say to yourself, one term is enough?
MICHELLE OBAMA: You know, I think that it's important for him to finish what he started. If I had to pick the man I'd want to be in politics, the kind of person that we seek out in this country, he would be the person that I would pick and that's always been why I followed him into these escapades.
WALTERS: Do you ever curse?
BARACK OBAMA: Oh, yeah.
WALTERS: You do curse?
BARACK OBAMA: Absolutely.
WALTERS: When was the last time you cursed?
BARACK OBAMA: Let's see, what time is it?
WALTERS: Mr President, you pray?
BARACK OBAMA: I do.
WALTERS: Every day?
BARACK OBAMA: Every night.
WALTERS: Read the Bible?
BARACK OBAMA: Yes.
WALTERS: Why do you think it is that so many people think you're a Muslim and why is that confusion?
BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, the internet has a powerful affect these days. But you know, the thing, obviously that's important to me is what I believe and, Michelle and I, you know, have not only benefitted from our prayer life, but I think the girls have, too. We say grace before we eat dinner every night and we take turns. It's interesting listening to the girls what they pray for.
WALTERS: What do they pray for?
BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, they'll about family and, you know, thanking God for blessings.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Everybody.
BARACK OBAMA: And, but they'll always add a little twist, you know. They used to pray for a dog until we got a dog. [Video of family playing with the dog.]
MICHELLE OBAMA: That's Bo.
BARACK OBAMA: Bo.
WALTERS: Another thing that has changed, they now have the most adorable dog named Bo. He shakes hands like a true politician.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.