Today Show Groupies Swoon Over 'Rock Star' Obama
Senator Barack Obama got NBC's Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and even Al Roker in a tizzy as he made this morning's Today show his latest tour stop. Vieira called the Democratic senator an "electrifying," "rock star" and never once threw a tough question his way, even getting him to call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
On to promote his book and Democrats in the midterms, Obama received the full TRL treatment on the October 19th Today show, complete with Vieira offering guest musical performer Vince Gill as an incentive for Obama to announce his presidential candidacy.
Meredith Vieira, holding up Time magazine: "You all know Senator Barack Obama. I don't know if you've seen the cover of Time magazine: 'Why Barack Obama Could Be The Next President.' He is joining us here today. We're gonna find out if he does, in fact, have those aspirations and we'll ask him, once again, what everybody's been asking him, 'will you run for president in two years?' We're also gonna talk about the pressures of his job that they put on his wife and his children, because that's where he seems to feel that if he's failed at all it's as a father and as a husband."
Matt Lauer: "And it only gets more pressure-filled if he goes to that next step."
Vieira: "Oh that's right."
Lauer: "No question."
Obama even got a shout-out from Al Roker with his very own personalized forecast: "Sunshine in Illinois today, Chicago! From Senator Barack Obama's home state!"
Lauer gave Obama more props in this tease at 8:16am:
Matt Lauer: "Coming up next, he has been called a political rock star but does he dream of taking center stage at the White House someday? We're gonna talk to Senator Barack Obama right after this."
The following are all of Viera's sycophantic questions to Obama:
Meredith Vieira: "It was his electrifying keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that put Senator Barack Obama of Illinois on the national stage for the first time."
[Clip of Barack Obama: "Hope in the face of difficulty! Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope, in the end that is God's greatest gift to us! The bedrock of this nation."]
Vieira: "And now the junior senator is traveling nationwide nationwide to help campaign for fellow Democrats before the midterm elections. And he also has a lot of people wondering is he running for President in 2008. The Senator is now out with his second book The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming the American Dream. Senator, good morning to you."
Sen. Barack Obama: "Great to see you Meredith."
Vieira: "I couldn't help but notice you're watching yourself, that speech, and I don't know if you're self-deprecating but you kind of roll your eyes a little bit. Are you, you know you are the equivalent of a rock star in politics."
Obama: "You know, the, we, we live in a celebrity culture. So I'm always a little bit suspicious of, of the hype and, and, and that's probably my, my Kansas side of me. You know my, my grandmother, I remember after I gave that speech she, she was born in a tiny town in Kansas and she called me up and she said, 'That was a very nice speech, Barack.'"
Vieira: "That's all she said?"
Obama: "That's all she said."
Vieira: "Meanwhile there were people-"
Obama: "She left a message, that was it. Yeah."
Vieira: "Meanwhile that's the first time people heard, many people heard your name, even knew who you were and that's the first time they heard you talk about 'the audacity of hope,' which is the title of your book. Many people, afterwards, they weren't sure how to pronounce you name but they were moved by you. People were crying. You tapped into something. You touched people. What did you tap into that, that was missing?"
Obama: "Well you know I, as I travel around the country, I spend a lot of time out campaigning for other candidates and, and talking to groups and students at, at colleges and I've always felt like there's a core decency to the American people. That, you know, we get confused sometimes. We're busy, we're tired, we're not paying attention to the public debates but people like the idea of doing better than we're doing right now. Caring for our kids better, caring for our seniors more."
Vieira: "But why doesn't that translate in Washington? You say people in the country understand the concept of common ground, which is what your book it's about. But somehow in Washington there's a disconnect."
Obama: "Well you know I think part of it is there are some institutional barriers to it. I mean one of the things I write about is, the minute you arrive in Washington suddenly there's all these forces, whether it's, it's the media or parties or the need to raise money that, that kind of tamp down those basic human responses that you have towards other people."
Vieira: "So have you had to deal with that, yourself, have you felt that pressure on you?"
Obama: "Oh absolutely. I mean I think everybody does and you know most, I think the, the biggest problem in Washington is people get afraid to lose. What happens is you get there, you, a lot of senators have, have battled and they invested their careers and sacrificed with their families to get there and once you get there then they start thinking, 'Well I, I really want to hang on to my seat,' and so you start saying things or doing things not because of what you believe but rather because you think that it'll help you get reelected."
Vieira: "I know you don't want to talk about 2008. I know you don't want to but I have the, today's New York Times, the op-ed. David Brooks, conservative voice. 'Run Barack, run! Barack Obama should run for President, he should run first, for the good of his party. It would demoralize the Democrats to go through a long primary season with the most exciting figure in the party,' that would be you, 'looming off in the distance like some unapproachable dream.' If your party says to you, 'we need you,' and, and there's already a drumbeat out there will you respond?"
Obama: "Well, you know the way presidential campaigns work these days you're never drafted. Right? I think you have to make an affirmative decision to run and it's an enormous decision because this is a serious business and it's serious times."
Vieira: "Are you qualified, do you think?"
Obama: "Well I think there are two people who are qualified to be president. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush because they've done it before. Everybody else, I think, has to figure it out on the job because this is an immense country and we're facing issues around health care and energy and education and foreign policy, obviously what we're gonna do in Iraq."
Vieira: "But what are we gonna do? Let me ask you that. I know we're short on time but nine months ago you were there. You said, 'If we don't turn things around, we have nine months in which to do it, we're gonna have to make some changes.' Well nine months, they're up."
Obama: "It is time for us to start a phased withdrawal and, and that doesn't mean that we pull all the troops out at once but we have to send a strong signal to the Iraqis that it is time for you guys to take control of your country and to the powers in the region, including Syria and Iraq, Iran, which have been standing on the sidelines to say, 'You've got to be invested in trying to bring about some sort of peaceful solution."
Vieira: "Well if you were president now, when would you start that withdrawal? Immediately?"
Obama: "Well I would start planning with the Joint Chiefs right now. Yeah."
Vieira: "I mentioned in, in setting you up outside, I said we're gonna talk about your family and, and how they feel about all this because in the book if there's any place where you feel you might have been a failure it's as a husband to your wife Michelle and, and a father to your daughters. Why do you feel that?"
Obama: "Well failure would be too strong of a word. I think they'd say, 'Yeah he's a pretty good dad and he's, he's a pretty good husband.' But it's the tension that I think all of us feel but it, it, it's accentuated in politics because you travel a lot, of balancing work and family and, you know, my wife is an, a wonderful woman and she carries the burden at home a lot more than I do."
Vieira: "And I carry the burden to get us out on time. Senator Barack Obama, good luck to you. If you change your mind about the presidency we got a band right here with Vince Gill, can handle the whole thing. We'll be right back."
Obama: "I love Vince Gill."