On Sunday's "Good Morning America," journalist George Stephanopoulos asserted that "some White House officials I've talked to concede" that Barack Obama has placed too much emphasis on gathering Republican support for the stimulus bill now before Congress. Now, considering that the Politico claimed on January 27 that Stephanopoulos has been participating in daily phone calls with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, one wonders if Emanuel was the aforementioned "White House official." If so, was this a criticism by Emanuel of his boss?
In the original Politico article, John Harris wrote about daily strategy sessions between Stephanopoulos and the White House chief of staff, as well as Democratic pundits/strategists James Carville and Paul Begala. Harris explained, "And in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington’s prevailing political and media interpretation — at least on the Democratic side — is being hatched on these calls."
On Sunday's program, in response to a question by weekend GMA co-host Bill Weir about whether Obama made too many promises about "nonpartisan nirvana," Stephanopoulos replied, "I think part of the problem, and I think some White House officials I've talked to concede this, is that he [Obama] put too much emphasis on nonpartisan nirvana rather than on getting the job done."
For more on the Stephanopoulos controversy, see an open letter by MRC President Brent Bozell.
A transcript of the Febuary 8 segment, which aired at 8:12am, follows:
BILL WEIR: And for the bottom line right now, let's dial up Washington where George Stephanopoulos is getting ready for this week's "This Week." George, good morning.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hey, Bill.
WEIR: So, looking back, let's look back before we look forward. What could President Obama have done differently in the first 20 days to fulfill those promises of nonpartisan nirvana in Washington?
STEPHANOPOULOS: [Laughs] I think part- I think part of the problem, and I think some White House officials I've talked to concede this, is that he put too much emphasis on nonpartisan nirvana rather than the means to the end. That they made bipartisanship the goal, rather than the means to the end. Again, you take a step back. It's not even, you know, two full weeks, three full weeks in office right now. The President is on the verge of having his economic package pass both the House and the Senate, more than $800 billion. That's pretty significant. But you're right, because the White House set the goal of bipartisanship, maybe 80 Senate votes, this does have the feel of a failure, even though it's a great success.
WEIR: Yeah, I guess it gets lost in all the rancor that we go- that we watch on the back and forth. Now, he will head to Elkhart, Indiana tomorrow. No county in the country has seen unemployment rise higher, faster. Is this part of a public push? We saw the house parties there. Is he going back in campaign mode now?
STEPHANOPOULOS: A little bit and a little bit to get tough and to convince people that this package is necessary. That the answer, even if it's not everything he wanted, that it's the right answer for the economy right now. That it's absolutely essential it get done. There's some concern in the White House that because these negotiations between the House and the Senate, if indeed they happen, could get difficult. That the President's deadline will slip. That they will not be able to finish this package by the Presidents Day deadline the President had set. So, he wants to go out there and put some pressure on.
WEIR: And for those people sitting at home wondering when's the help coming? As the Senate and the House try to reconcile these bills, what do you think? What's the timetable?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think there's still a decent chance it's going to going to get done by next week, by Presidents Day. If not I think it will be just be a couple days after that.