CBS’s Harry Smith Gives Glowing Bio of Barack Obama

Prior to asking if America is "color-blind" in reference to Barack Obama’s recent success in Iowa, on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began the show by offering a sympathetic profile of the Illinois Senator:

There is no question that Barack Obama with his big win in Iowa is the candidate of the moment, boldly predicting that if he wins New Hampshire, he will be the next president. So who is this man? And how did he get here?...As I traveled with him, Barack Obama talked to me about the man who played almost no role in his life, yet turns out to be a great influence...Barack Obama Sr. left his wife, Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas whom he met at the University of Hawaii, when their son was just 2 years old. A brilliant civil servant from Kenya, Obama Sr. would study at Harvard, but he didn't come back until his son was 10. In his first book, Obama writes of a man whose mere presence controlled a room. 'It fascinated me,' Obama wrote. 'This strange power of his, and for the first time I began to think of my father as something real and immediate, perhaps even permanent.'

Following this quote of Obama’s first book "Dreams From My Father," Smith asked, "You spent a good portion of your life, it sounds like to me, trying to find out who you were and where you fit in. How does that fit into what you're doing now?"

Smith continued to frame Obama as having overcome adversity, even a possible life on the streets:

OBAMA: As I got older and I found out that, you know, he [Obama’s father] had led a tragic and unhappy life in many ways and hadn't treated his family the way he should have, it made me want to really make up for those errors and be a good father and be a good husband. Now it also translates into my politics because when I drive around the South Side of Chicago and I see young men standing on street corners without prospects and guidance and hope for the future, I understand what they may be going through.

SMITH: It sounds like to me there was a time when you might have almost ended up there.

OBAMA: Temperamentally, I think I'm different than my father was. There are parts of him in me. You know, it's interesting, I've always had, I think, a greater appreciation of the value of family and relationships and loyalty than I think he did.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: This morning one on one with Obama, how he came so far so fast.

7:04AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: There is no question that Barack Obama with his big win in Iowa is the candidate of the moment, boldly predicting that if he wins New Hampshire, he will be the next president. So who is this man? And how did he get here?

BARACK OBAMA: Hope is what led me here today. With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas -- you know, I always offer up this quote, every man's either trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes. And you know, I suppose for me, not having a father in the home led me to do both.

SMITH: As I traveled with him, Barack Obama talked to me about the man who played almost no role in his life, yet turns out to be a great influence.

OBAMA: He was a larger-than-life figure. And my mother always spoke well of him. And I think that image of him spurred me on to try to meet those expectations, even though he wasn't around.

SMITH: Barack Obama Sr. left his wife, Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas whom he met at the University of Hawaii, when their son was just 2 years old. A brilliant civil servant from Kenya, Obama Sr. would study at Harvard, but he didn't come back until his son was 10. In his first book, Obama writes of a man whose mere presence controlled a room. 'It fascinated me,' Obama wrote. 'This strange power of his, and for the first time I began to think of my father as something real and immediate, perhaps even permanent.' However, Obama's father was anything but permanent. He soon returned to Africa where he had other wives and numerous children and a problem with alcohol. Obama never saw his father again. You spent a good portion of your life, it sounds like to me, trying to find out who you were and where you fit in. How does that fit into what you're doing now?

OBAMA: Well, that's half true. I mean, I think there's a part of me that has always been very stable and grounded in the love of my mother and the values that she and my grandparents taught me.

SMITH: His mother's parents, who would raise him in Hawaii.

OBAMA: As I got older and I found out that, you know, he had led a tragic and unhappy life in many ways and hadn't treated his family the way he should have, it made me want to really make up for those errors and be a good father and be a good husband. Now it also translates into my politics because when I drive around the South Side of Chicago and I see young men standing on street corners without prospects and guidance and hope for the future, I understand what they may be going through.

SMITH: It sounds like to me there was a time when you might have almost ended up there.

OBAMA: Temperamentally, I think I'm different than my father was. There are parts of him in me. You know, it's interesting, I've always had, I think, a greater appreciation of the value of family and relationships and loyalty than I think he did.

SMITH: A conversation with Barack Obama that you don't hear very often.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC