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Stephanopoulos: Obama Cabinet Unparalleled in 'Brain Power' --11/25/2008


1. Stephanopoulos: Obama Cabinet Unparalleled in 'Brain Power'
Good Morning America's news team on Monday gushed at the sheer brilliance of Barack Obama's incoming cabinet, including his "team of economic gladiators." Former top Bill Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos rhapsodized: "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." (What does that say about Stephanopoulos' friends in the Clinton administration?) Co-host Robin Roberts was equally enthusiastic. Speaking with Stephanopoulos, she cooed: "Some would say it's a team of rivals, a la President Lincoln, or is a better comparison a team of geniuses as FDR did?" Continuing the fawning, Stephanopoulos readily agreed: "Well, one Obama advisor told me what they like is a combination of team of rivals and 'the Best and the Brightest,' which was the David Halberstam book about the incoming Kennedy administration. I think there are parallels to all three."

2. ABC Marvels Obama Filling Bush's 'Vacuum,' So 'Two Presidents'
Less than 12 hours after George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, glowed that "we have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes" (see item #1 above), he popped up on World News to hail how Barack Obama's team recognized the Bush administration's "vacuum" and so decided to "step in and fill" it by showing "the President-elect taking action on the economy" day after day. Anchor Charles Gibson set up Stephanopoulos by marveling: "George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents."

3. CBS Touts 'Star-Studded' Obama Cabinet, 'Bold' and 'Inspired'
On the Saturday Early Show on CBS, President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet picks were presented positively as correspondent Kimberly Dozier referred to a "superstar cabinet," and its members as "bold" and "inspired," while co-anchor Erica Hill called the Cabinet "star-studded." As she filed a story regarding Obama's choices of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary, Dozier introduced her report: "Well, Obama's Cabinet picks are coming one by one, and they're calling it, in some cases, a 'superstar Cabinet.'" After informing viewers that Obama may ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on, Dozier repeated the "superstar" label as she passed on praise from former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein: "Ronald Reagan's former chief of staff says Obama's taking a page from his boss's book, choosing a superstar team for their skills, not their political persuasion." Dozier an hour later: "Some are calling it a return to the Clinton White House. Others, Republicans among them, are praising him for bold, and even inspired, choices."

4. NYT Columnists Want Obama Inauguration Moved Up to Thanksgiving
Not one, but two New York Times columnists called over the weekend for an early start to the Obama presidency. First up, on Saturday Gail Collins pleaded: "Thanksgiving is next week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning. Seriously." Then Dick Cheney "would have to quit as well as Bush. In fact, just to be on the safe side, the vice president ought to turn in his resignation first. (We're desperate, but not crazy.)" That would allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to become President, but "she'd defer to her party's incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing." On Sunday, Tom Friedman proposed: "If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day."

5. CBS: NYT's Paul Krugman Warns Against Economic Prudence, Caution
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about Barack Obama's proposed stimulus package: "What about the $500 billion economic stimulus plan that President-elect Obama is planning? Do you think it's realistic to get that done in two years?" Not only was Krugman in favor of the plan, but he argued: "I'm actually worried that this plan may be too small... I'm still worrying that they're going to be a little bit short, because you just have to put all your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now." Rodriguez's discussion with Krugman was preceded by a fawning report by correspondent Dean Reynolds on Obama's economic plan: "Well, the incoming administration is making it abundantly clear that it plans an active multi-billion dollar approach to kick-starting the economy. As one top economic adviser to Barack Obama put it, the era of dithering is over."


Stephanopoulos: Obama Cabinet Unparalleled
in 'Brain Power'

Good Morning America's news team on Monday gushed at the sheer brilliance of Barack Obama's incoming cabinet, including his "team of economic gladiators." Former top Bill Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos rhapsodized: "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." (What does that say about Stephanopoulos' friends in the Clinton administration?)

Co-host Robin Roberts was equally enthusiastic. Speaking with Stephanopoulos, she cooed: "Some would say it's a team of rivals, a la President Lincoln, or is a better comparison a team of geniuses as FDR did?" Continuing the fawning, Stephanopoulos readily agreed: "Well, one Obama advisor told me what they like is a combination of team of rivals and 'the Best and the Brightest,' which was the David Halberstam book about the incoming Kennedy administration. I think there are parallels to all three." (This is somewhat of an odd comparison. Halberstam's 1972 book explored the origins of the Vietnam War and the mistakes made leading up to it.)

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As though the ABC journalists were attempting to see who could top the other, co-host Diane Sawyer introduced a separate segment by effusively announcing: "And we're going to turn now to President-elect Obama and his new team of economic gladiators."

A transcript of the November 24 Stephanopoulos segment, which aired at 7:07am:

ROBIN ROBERTS: And now for the bottom line, we turn to our chief Washington correspondent and host of "This Week" George Stephanopoulos. And, George, as we heard, the President-elect, a lot of pressure on him to take action now, even before he's sworn in. So can he afford to wait until January 20th and if not, what can he do right now?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Robin, he's already doing more than any incoming president has ever done this quickly. As Jake reported, his advisers are working behind the scenes to try to have a package ready on January 20th. If they get anywhere close to that date, it would be remarkable. And they are looking at a stimulus package in the five to $700 billion range. That is huge. Number two, he is appointing- After today, he will have appointed more key economic advisers more quickly than any president-elect ever before. And then finally, he's intimately involved through his advisers in this economic rescue package right now. Tim Geithner, the incoming Treasury Secretary, as president of the New York Federal Reserve was working all weekend long on this rescue of Citigroup. The President-elect himself has been in regular contact with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on the bailout. So, he is acting now.
ROBERTS: Can you give us a better idea of what we can expect to hear from him later today, and do you think it will calm the markets?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's certainly what the President-elect's advisers are hoping for. He will signal, as his advisors did over the weekend, that this economic stimulus package is going to be big, far bigger than anything we saw during the campaign. He is also likely to signal, although their not saying so directly, that his repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is much more likely to come when they naturally expire at the end of 2010 than through any aggressive action before then. Those are the two big things I think you're likely to see in his talk today. He will probably also send a signal to other world leaders that he would like every big country to move together on stimulus packages.
ROBERTS: Let's talk for a moment about his cabinet. It seems to be coming together. It is expected that we're going to see some familiar faces such as Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson. Some would say it's a team of rivals, a la President Lincoln, or is a better comparison a team of geniuses as FDR did?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one Obama advisor told me what they like is a combination of team of rivals and "The Best and the Brightest," which was the David Halberstam book about the incoming Kennedy administration. I think there are parallels to all three. But, again, when you look at this range of people that the President-elect is considering, a former first lady, former rival, a former Secretary of Energy, governor, U.N. ambassador like Bill Richardson, the former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle coming in as the secretary of Health and Human Services. We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes.

ABC Marvels Obama Filling Bush's 'Vacuum,'
So 'Two Presidents'

Less than 12 hours after George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, glowed that "we have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes" (see item #1 above), he popped up on World News to hail how Barack Obama's team recognized the Bush administration's "vacuum" and so decided to "step in and fill" it by showing "the President-elect taking action on the economy" day after day. Anchor Charles Gibson set up Stephanopoulos by marveling: "George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents."

Stephanopoulos admired Obama's take charge actions: "I think what the Obama team saw -- starting last week with all of that uncertainty in the markets, in the dropping stock markets -- is they had to step in and fill a political vacuum. It began with that leak of Tim Geithner's name as Treasury Secretary on Friday, an announcement of a jobs plan on Saturday, carrying through to today, and there will be announcements both tomorrow and Wednesday to show the President-elect taking action on the economy."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

From the Monday, November 24 World News:

CHARLES GIBSON: Our chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, joins us now. George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It's never happened before, Charlie, that's exactly right. I think what the Obama team saw -- starting last week with all of that uncertainty in the markets, in the dropping stock markets -- is they had to step in and fill a political vacuum. It began with that leak of Tim Geithner's name as Treasury Secretary on Friday, an announcement of a jobs plan on Saturday, carrying through to today, and there will be announcements both tomorrow and Wednesday to show the President-elect taking action on the economy. But you're exactly right, this has not happened before, and we've never seen an entire economic team appointed so quickly.

CBS Touts 'Star-Studded' Obama Cabinet,
'Bold' and 'Inspired'

On the Saturday Early Show on CBS, President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet picks were presented positively as correspondent Kimberly Dozier referred to a "superstar cabinet," and its members as "bold" and "inspired," while co-anchor Erica Hill called the Cabinet "star-studded." The terminology was similar to that employed by NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the previous night's Nightly News, as she referred to Obama's "all-star Cabinet." See the November 24 CyberAlert: mrc.org

As she filed a story regarding Obama's choices of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner, also from the Clinton administration, for Treasury Secretary, Dozier introduced her report: "Well, Obama's Cabinet picks are coming one by one, and they're calling it, in some cases, a 'superstar Cabinet.'" After informing viewers that Obama may ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on, Dozier repeated the "superstar" label as she passed on praise from former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein: "Ronald Reagan's former chief of staff says Obama's taking a page from his boss's book, choosing a superstar team for their skills, not their political persuasion."

At the beginning of the 9:00 hour, co-anchor Erica Hill teased: "The shape of things to come: President-elect Obama now close to completing his star-studded Cabinet, and now the hard work begins." Soon Dozier returned to introduce a report similar to that from the 8:00 hour and cited Republican praise, presumably referring to Duberstein, of Obama's choices: "Some are calling it a return to the Clinton White House. Others, Republicans among them, are praising him for bold, and even inspired, choices."

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Saturday Early Show on CBS from November 22:

CHRIS WRAGGE, DURING THE 8:00 A.M. HOUR: But first, let's get to the news of the morning, and names of those being tapped for prized Cabinet positions in the Obama administration are coming in fast and furious, and even causing a stir on Wall Street. CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier is at the White House with the very latest for us bright and early on this Saturday morning. Kimberly, good to see you.
KIMBERLY DOZIER: Good morning, Chris. Well, Obama's Cabinet picks are coming one by one, and they're calling it, in some cases, a "superstar Cabinet." More announcements could come as early as Monday. President-elect Barack Obama officially offered the State Department to his former rival this week. A senior Hillary Clinton advisor told CBS News she will accept, but it won't likely be announced until after Thanksgiving. Some call that "bold," others:
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: It's starting to look very much like a staff reunion of Bill Clinton's White House.
DOZIER: But look at what the Dow did Friday, recovering some 500 points when word leaked out that another former Clintonite would be offered the Treasury post. Tim Geithner is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and a former Clinton Treasury official. And Obama's team has hinted it will ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on. He's seen by many inside the Beltway as a nonpartisan pragmatist who has been key to the turnaround in Iraq. Ronald Reagan's former chief of staff says Obama's taking a page from his boss's book, choosing a superstar team for their skills, not their political persuasion.
KEN DUBERSTEIN, FORMER REAGAN CHIEF OF STAFF: You may be changing Washington, but you need to know people who understand the road map, who have a bearing of how to get things done on Capitol Hill.
DOZIER: The Cabinet picks thus far are still largely Democratic former Ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, is now the leading candidate for Commerce. One more sign of Clinton redux, word that the Obama's have chosen Sidwell Friends School for their daughters Malia and Sasha. That's where Chelsea Clinton went, Chris.

...

ERICA HILL, IN OPENING TEASER FOR THE 9;00 A.M. HOUR: The shape of things to come: President-elect Obama now close to completing his star-studded Cabinet, and now the hard work begins.

...

DOZIER: Well, Obama's team may be dragging their feet about making it official, but they're moving rapidly ahead with filling his Cabinet. Some are calling it a return to the Clinton White House. Others, Republicans among them, are praising him for bold, and even inspired, choices.

NYT Columnists Want Obama Inauguration
Moved Up to Thanksgiving

Not one, but two New York Times columnists called over the weekend for an early start to the Obama presidency. First up, on Saturday Gail Collins pleaded: "Thanksgiving is next week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning. Seriously." Then Dick Cheney "would have to quit as well as Bush. In fact, just to be on the safe side, the vice president ought to turn in his resignation first. (We're desperate, but not crazy.)" That would allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to become President, but "she'd defer to her party's incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing." On Sunday, Tom Friedman proposed: "If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day."

[This item is based on the Monday posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

An excerpt from the November 22 Collins column, "Time for Him to Go":

Thanksgiving is next week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning.

Seriously. We have an economy that's crashing and a vacuum at the top. Bush -- who is currently on a trip to Peru to meet with Asian leaders who no longer care what he thinks -- hasn't got the clout, or possibly even the energy, to do anything useful. His most recent contribution to resolving the fiscal crisis was lecturing representatives of the world's most important economies on the glories of free-market capitalism.

Putting Barack Obama in charge immediately isn't impossible. Dick Cheney, obviously, would have to quit as well as Bush. In fact, just to be on the safe side, the vice president ought to turn in his resignation first. (We're desperate, but not crazy.) Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would become president until Jan. 20. Obviously, she'd defer to her party's incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing....

END of Excerpt

The Collins column in full: www.nytimes.com

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air pointed out the slight flaw in Collins' brilliant plan: "The succession act Collins references exists to ensure continuity in case of disaster, not on the whim of a constipated New York Times columnist whose need for instant gratification apparently outweighs the rest of her cerebral processes." See: hotair.com

Sunday brought a similar plea from the paper's increasingly excitable peripatetic columnist Tom Friedman, who feverishly likened the George Bush-Barack Obama handoff to how Lyndon Baines Johnson ascended to the presidency immediately upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy:

...If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day. Forget the inaugural balls; we can't afford them. Forget the grandstands; we don't need them. Just get me a Supreme Court justice and a Bible, and let's swear in Barack Obama right now -- by choice -- with the same haste we did -- by necessity -- with L.B.J. in the back of Air Force One.

Unfortunately, it would take too long for a majority of states to ratify such an amendment....

END of Excerpt

For Friedman's entire column: www.nytimes.com

CBS: NYT's Paul Krugman Warns Against
Economic Prudence, Caution

On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about Barack Obama's proposed stimulus package: "What about the $500 billion economic stimulus plan that President-elect Obama is planning? Do you think it's realistic to get that done in two years?" Not only was Krugman in favor of the plan, but he argued: "I'm actually worried that this plan may be too small... I'm still worrying that they're going to be a little bit short, because you just have to put all your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now."

Rodriguez's discussion with Krugman was preceded by a fawning report by correspondent Dean Reynolds on Obama's economic plan: "Well, the incoming administration is making it abundantly clear that it plans an active multi-billion dollar approach to kick-starting the economy. As one top economic adviser to Barack Obama put it, the era of dithering is over." Reynolds continued by declaring: "...with the actions taken so far to stem the tide proving to be totally ineffective, the incoming administration is setting the table for a long struggle to make things right."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen,was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Reynolds also looked at Obama's economic team: "Leading the effort to get things headed in a new direction will be Timothy Geithner, current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York...And working with him will be a former treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers." Later, Krugman gave a glowing endorsement of both men: "They're both terrific -- terrifically smart, terrifically forceful guys...it's great to have the best people on board. That's the one thing that's really encouraging right now."

Near the end of his report, Reynolds made Great Depression comparisons: "Congress will be presented an ambitious plan costing hundreds of billions of dollars to create over the next two years more than 2 million new jobs. Including public works employment similar to the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt." Krugman made similar comparisons: "...it's not depression, but it's depression economics. We're having the kinds of problems that we had during the 1930s and that's why we're talking about a new WPA. We're talking about having to take some of the solutions that we thought we didn't ever have to use again, but here we are."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:
HARRY SMITH: Breaking news. Another day, another bailout. This time, the federal government comes to the rescue of banking giant Citigroup.
MARK ZANDI: Citigroup is too big to fail. It's a large global financial institution. If it were to fail it would take the rest of the financial system, what's left of it, with it.
SMITH: Yet another hurdle for the president-elect and his economic team, set to be unveiled today.
7:01AM TEASE:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Also coming up this morning, we'll talk economy. We're awaiting a news conference from President-elect Obama. He will announce his economic team today. We could also have an announcement about a potential bailout for Citigroup. This morning we'll talk about how the markets may react to both of these huge developments.

7:04AM SEGMENT:
HARRY SMITH: President-elect Barack Obama is expected to announce his economic team later today. CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds is in Chicago with more on that. Good morning, Dean.

DEAN REYNOLDS: Good morning, Harry. Well, the incoming administration is making it abundantly clear that it plans an active multi-billion dollar approach to kick-starting the economy. As one top economic adviser to Barack Obama put it, the era of dithering is over. With the stock market wobbling, with more than a million job losses this year alone, and with the actions taken so far to stem the tide proving to be totally ineffective, the incoming administration is setting the table for a long struggle to make things right.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: This is as big an economic crisis as we've faced in 75 years.
DAVID AXELROD: We've lost 1.3 million jobs already this year. The -- the unemployment claims last month were the highest in 16 years. And it looks like it could get worse before it gets better.
REYNOLDS: Leading the effort to get things headed in a new direction will be Timothy Geithner, current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 47 Years old, Geithner will be announced today as the new treasury secretary. And working with him will be a former treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers held the job under Bill Clinton. And, today, will be introduced as the chairman of the National Economic Council.
LARRY SUMMERS: I would hope that next year, we will start to see a turn.
REYNOLDS: But, first, Congress will be presented an ambitious plan costing hundreds of billions of dollars to create over the next two years more than 2 million new jobs. Including public works employment similar to the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt. Bridge and road building, School repairs and alternative energy projects, as the president-elect explained over the weekend.
BARACK OBAMA: But it will be a two-year nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy.
REYNOLDS: The hope is that the Congress will take up this plan shortly after taking office in January and there's a consensus forming that the new president will have no time to waste. Harry?
SMITH: Dean Reynolds, live in Chicago this morning, thanks so much. Maggie.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Thanks a lot, Harry. Joining us right now is Paul Krugman, a professor of economics at Princeton University a columnist for the New York Times and author of 'The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.' Good morning to you, Paul.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Good morning.
RODRIGUEZ: That's a pretty dire headline.
KRUGMAN: Well, you know, it's not depression, but it's depression economics. We're having the kinds of problems that we had during the 1930s and that's why we're talking about a new WPA. We're talking about having to take some of the solutions that we thought we didn't ever have to use again, but here we are.
RODRIGUEZ: Like-
KRUGMAN: Pretty dire stuff.
RODRIGUEZ: Like bailing out Citigroup, one of the largest and once strongest financial institutions in this country. Do you think that this bailout is well structured? Are the taxpayers getting a fair deal here?
KRUGMAN: First read on it, no. It's -- most of the people who've looked at it, you know, in the small hours of this morning, have said this is a lot of taxpayer risk in return for not much. It looks like a very sweet deal for Citigroup management, very sweet deal for Citigroup shareholders, to the extent they have anything left. Not very good for the taxpayer. This was not good.
RODRIGUEZ: Okay, so other bailouts have done nothing to boost consumer confidence. This one, you say, is not well structured. Why do it?
KRUGMAN: Well, you know, things could be worse. You know, that's been the moral of this crisis, things can always be worse and they've been getting worse. But if Citigroup had not been bailed out, then the whole financial system could collapse. If we hadn't had these other bailouts, things could be much worse even than they are. So it's what hasn't happened, not what has, that's the justification. So we had to do this, but we should've done it better.
RODRIGUEZ: We have a man who's been working closely with Hank Paulson on these bailouts, coming in as the new treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. We also have Lawrence Summers to head the economic council. We heard their resumes individually and they're very good. Do you think they'll make a good team, though?
KRUGMAN: That's going to be interesting. They're both terrific -- terrifically smart, terrifically forceful guys. You wonder a little bit about how it's going to work with two terrifically smart, terrifically forceful guys. Geithner was Summer's protegee, now they're going to be, sort of, holding equal status. It' s going to be interesting to see how the dynamics of that works out. But look, it's great to have the best people on board. That's the one thing that's really encouraging right now.
RODRIGUEZ: What about the $500 billion economic stimulus plan that President-elect Obama is planning? Do you think it's realistic to get that done in two years?
KRUGMAN: I hope it can get done faster. My -- the back of my envelope says we need $600 billion next year alone, so I'm actually worried that this plan may be too small. I mean this is an enormous crisis, you've got to hit it with an enormous stimulus to buck the economy up. I'm still worrying that they're going to be a little bit short, because you just have to put all your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Paul Krugman, thank you so much for your insight.
KRUGMAN: Thanks so much.

-- Brent Baker