"Nightline" co-host Terry Moran spent the day with Barack Obama on Tuesday and continued his habit of spouting talking points for Democratic candidates. This included telling viewers that Obama's campaign revolved around "connections" and then elaborating, "That's what is at the heart of Obama's politics, the notion that divisions are artificial and can be overcome by an act of will and of imagination."
It should be pointed out that fellow "Nightline" anchor Martin Bashir promised viewers at the top of the show that Moran, who interviewed Obama in a restaurant in Kansas, would obtain "tough chili and tough questions." One might think that would include asking about the senator's connection with indicted political operative and former supporter Tony Rezko. It didn't. Instead, Moran repeated campaign bio about how Obama's grandfather was born in Kansas and offered queries such as "So, you're home?" He told Obama, in what can't really be described as an actual question, "It always seems that the biggest applause lines are those where you tell people, let's come together."
Oddly, the ABC reporter seemed to understand that Obama will, eventually, have to talk about the tough issues. Moran explained, "To get the nomination, Obama needs to do more than inspire voters. He needs to convince them that he has pragmatic solutions to the country's problems." The "Nightline" anchor then added, "And so he's making promises, big promises, on taxes, education and healthcare." Moran, however, never found time to ask about "big promises" or any of those subjects. Instead, he recited banal lines that could be drawn from the Illinois politician's speeches. He closed the segment by informing viewers that Americans have "a hunger for a politics that could dissolve the old categories, start a new story."
In fact, despite talking about transcending categories, such as race, Moran spent a large chunk of the interview focusing on racial issues. While enjoying a meal with Obama in a restaurant, he asked, "Do you think that back when your grandfather was growing up in this town, the '20s and '30s, you could have sat at this lunch counter?" One of the (very few) questions that could be considered even mildly tough came when the "Nightline" co-host wondered about possible GOP challenger John McCain: "Would that be a harder race for you, for somebody as junior as you are, to run against John McCain?"
Moran has become well known for gushing over Democrats. In November of 2006, he said this of Obama: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon." Providing "balance," on January 24, 2008, he told viewers that a "brilliant" Bill Clinton "implores you to believe."
A partial transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:45pm on January 29, follows:
MARTIN BASHIR: Plus, we hit the trail with exclusive access to Barack Obama, sitting down in Kansas for tough chili and tough questions with Terry Moran.
MORAN: We're here in Kansas City, Missouri, following Barack Obama's campaign. The news today, as we said, was in neighboring Kansas. That's a state where Barack Obama has some deep roots. His mother was born in the state of Kansas. His grandfather was born and raised in the town of El Dorado, Kansas. And that's where we went. He had never been there before, but he went there to send a message in a campaign where the personal has become very political. It's a cold winter afternoon on main street in El Dorado, Kansas. Main street, a little sleepy, a little slow, but placid and tidy and safe, an iconic American place and that's precisely why Barack Obama came here today. This trip is more than just another stop on the trail for Obama. It is, in a way, a homecoming. So, you're home?
BARACK OBAMA: I'm home. This chili tastes like grampa's. [cut to speech] Mr. Kerns went to high school with my grandfather, at El Dorado High.
MORAN: Obama's grandfather, Stanley Dunham, He stares out at us from the old photograph. A young man, a young white man, in mid century in Kansas, who left this state looking for success and never quite found it. And now his grandson stands here.
OBAMA: Thank you, Kansas.
MORAN: This side of Obama's family story, the Midwestern side, the white side, is a crucial part of his biography and his campaign strategy. As he faces contests in 22 states on Super Tuesday, where millions of voters will take their first long look at him, Obama wanted to make a point.
OBAMA: We're family.
MORAN: And as part of the subtext of your trip here today, as the country starts a national primary, essentially to tell people that half of your family is white?
OBAMA: No, that isn't the case, 'cause I think that's actually pretty well known. I think that the purpose of the trip is to explain that there are a set of values and roots here in the Midwest, and that although Kansas is now considered this red state and, you know, irrevocably Republican, that there are connections between all of us.
MORAN: Connections. That's what is at the heart of Obama's politics, the notion that divisions are artificial and can be overcome by an act of will and of imagination.
OBAMA: It's a story that began here in El Dorado.
MORAN: Over a bowl of chili at Susie's, Obama talked about his grandfather's hometown. Do you think that back when your grandfather was growing up in this town, the '20s and '30s, you could have sat at this lunch counter?
OBAMA: Certainly, you know, people would not have anticipated me showing up midday.
MORAN: As a presidential candidate?
OBAMA: As a presidential candidate, right.
MORAN: To get the nomination, Obama needs to do more than inspire voters. He needs to convince them that he has pragmatic solutions to the country's problems. And so he's making promises, big promises, on taxes, education and healthcare.
OBAMA: We are going to pass healthcare reform by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.
MORAN: Still, it comes back to him. To his story. For Obama, politics is personal. So what you're saying in this campaign is, I did it. I reconciled the different parts of myself. You can do it.
OBAMA: I don't presume to suggest that what I can do as an individual automatically transposes itself over a nation. I guess the way I'd put it would be that, that the cross currents of this country, race, ethnicity and religion and all those things that often times are presented as dividing lines that I've -- I have swam in those waters. And I know that, in fact, they're all part of, you know, part of one big river that is the American story.
MORAN: Just before a rally tonight in Kansas City, we stopped backstage with Obama, the crowd roaring in anticipation. It always seems that the biggest applause lines are those where you tell people, let's come together.
OBAMA: Yeah. There's enormous hunger for that.
MORAN: A hunger for a politics that could dissolve the old categories, start a new story. Well, it has been a pretty good story so far, right throughout this presidential campaign, both Democratic and Republican. And Barack Obama, of course, wants to be the author of the final chapter as they all do. Martin?