NBC’s Andrea Mitchell appeared on the PBS show Charlie Rose on Wednesday night, and discussed what aroused her political zones. Rose clumsily asked which story "turns you on," and naturally, Mitchell said "this young president" with a globe-traveling upbringing and his team of "meritocracy," an "extraordinary group of very large figures," stars who will resolve today’s crises.
Mitchell decried the idea that new media would trouble the President’s first days: "I guess my passion is for something to happen to fix these problems and for dialing down of all of the sharp criticism that we have on cable talk, on talk radio, from the, you know....the blogosphere. I just wish that we could find something in the center that would be bipartisan and would be productive and constructive."
Rose and Mitchell discussed the Gaza fighting before turning back to the domestic front:
ROSE: You have covered the Congress well. You have covered the White House well. You have covered foreign policy well. You are a part of the Washington community, saying -- rather than Washington establishment. Tell where your passion is these days? What is the story that turns you on the most?
MITCHELL: Well, I think with a lot of people, it is to see this new president. These are historic times in Washington, and you don’t have to be a supporter or a critic to be fascinated, just as someone who is a journalist and a student of history, by what will this young president, African-American, with experience around the world, with a different set of experiences, and his team, and it is a meritocracy -- you’re seeing an extraordinary group of very large figures coming into play here -- what are they going to do with all the challenges that they face? We have never in my lifetime faced economic crises such as these, and opportunities.
Rose then asked if Obama would get a honeymoon from critics, and Mitchell said that while reporters would hold Obama accountable, critics should smell the coffee of his "extraordinary poll numbers" and steer clear of unproductive criticism:
ROSE: And do you feel a sense of giving him the benefit of the doubt, or at least a period of a kind of honeymoon, which is a bad word, but an opportunity to show his best and see what he can do and a willingness to sort of hold your fire for a while?
MITCHELL: I think that there is a willingness on both sides of the aisle, certainly. I mean, journalists still have our responsibility to hold them to account.
ROSE: I don’t mean by journalists. Obviously, I’m talking about Republicans.
MITCHELL: Yes, I think that the quote, ‘loyal opposition’, is partly looking at his extraordinary poll numbers. He is the most popular president coming in that we have seen in a generation. They’re going to hold their fire for political reasons, and they`re going to hold their fire because something needs to be done, and the only way that this country can pull out of this mess is to have bipartisan action.
And he is sending signals as well. He is talking about the kinds of tax cuts, business tax cuts that Republicans want to hear. So you heard some favorable things from Mitch McConnell.
I think they realize that America wants to see results, and they don’t want gridlock. So I think this is an extraordinary moment. I guess my passion is for something to happen to fix these problems, and for dialing down of all of the sharp criticism that we have on cable talk, on talk radio, from, you know, the –
ROSE: From left to right.
MITCHELL: – the blogosphere. I just wish that we could find something in the center that would be bipartisan and would be productive and constructive.
If Rose was a tougher interviewer, he'd wonder whether Mitchell encouraged people to tamp down the "sharp criticism" when George W. Bush came to office. Mitchell repeatedly touted the extraordinary talent and brainpower of Team Obama:
MITCHELL: And the brain power in this Cabinet is extraordinary, if they figure out how to work among themselves and with the Hill and to reach out beyond Washington, which is important....
ROSE It’s hard to find anybody who didn`t have that experience who has achieved a certain level of proficiency and statecraft or in government.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Exactly. But most of them have also done things in academia, on Wall Street, elsewhere, and have checked other boxes so that you see a real talent pool here, which is pretty extraordinary.
And what I’m also interested in seeing is, what about average Americans? How can he do what George Bush did not do after 9/11, tap into the desire of Americans around the country.
ANDREA MITCHELL: To come to Washington or somehow participate, whether it’s an adult Peace Corps or Vista or some other way of service, how can other people become engaged, and young people and old.
The Peace Corps isn’t for adults? She must mean a domestic version of the Peace Corps. Mitchell’s appreciation of the "enormously talented" Team Obama even extended to the alleged sharp citizens who failed to pass the test of making it to a Senate confirmation hearing:
ROSE: What happened to Bill Richardson?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Bill Richardson wasn’t vetted by either himself or by the vetters. And he is such an engaging personality. You know, Charlie, I’ve traveled around the world with him, and we’ve gone to North Korea, to Afghanistan, to Pakistan with him. We’ve seen him in Sudan. He is an enormously talented figure, but he has an active grand jury investigation on his case. He’s not a target of it that we know of, but he has hired a criminal lawyer. But it`s a situation where the FBI couldn’t clear him for confirmation. And if you can’t have a confirmation hearing, you can't be part of the Cabinet.
The FBI has to do its own clearance before those papers go up to the Hill. And so they couldn’t schedule a hearing, and the delay was going to put him outside the political window where it was viable, and he had to be persuaded, really, to take a step back.
It makes you wonder, since Mitchell's traveled with Richardson so extensively and been enthralled with his talents, whether she helped Obama persuade him to wait for the scandal clouds to clear up.