Where's the Obama Love Gone?
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: We are live in Washington, D.C. And history proves for the leaders who live here, it is pretty hard to please everyone, pretty much impossible. Well, no surprise President Obama gets his share of heat from the right, but the left is putting the pressure on, as well.
Fox's Major Garrett has the report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (Voice-over): Liberal columnists and bloggers now openly question Mr. Obama's spine and decisiveness. "The Nation," a clarion of the progressive movement, ran a blog labeling the president "Whiner in chief." Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen said Mr. Obama, quote, "inspires a lot of affection but not a lot of awe."
Liberal talk show host Bill Press says unease on the left is real.
BILL PRESS, LIBERAL TALK SHOW HOST: Liberals are impatient and They want everything done now, and there's no way Obama can satisfy that. But again, on some key issues, people feel, Look, you know, we didn't elect another George W. Bush. We didn't elect John McCain. We elected Barack Obama, and we expected results faster.
GARRETT: The White House counters the president's moved decisively on the economy with the stimulus, on torture by outlawing it, on detainees by trying to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, on autos by OKing the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler, and on Wall Street and banking by sending a raft of reforms to Congress.
But the left is increasingly impatient with Mr. Obama's perceived unwillingness to fight for a government-financed public option in the health reform debate.
PRESS: He hasn't been tough enough and forceful enough and direct enough on what he wants in terms of a public plan option, and telling the Senate, Look, this is what I want. You deliver it.
GARRETT: Republicans find the sudden uprising on the left to be a surprise.
MICHAEL GERSON, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH SPEECH WRITER: He's managed to convince a lot of Americans that he's more liberal than he (SIC) thought he was at the same time that he's disappointed his liberal base! That's an accomplishment of sorts.
GARRETT: Democrats say it's par for the course.
JOSH GOTTHEIMER, FORMER CLINTON SPEECH WRITER: Well, I mean, look, you're never going to make everybody happy all the time. That's just the rule of politics.
GARRETT (On camera): Liberals, progressives believe they helped secure the nomination for Mr. Obama and helped him win the White House, and their irritation could grow if the president boosts U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan and settles for health care reform that lacks that government- financed public option. Then irritation now confined to blog posts and editorial pages may spread to the halls of Congress and could, some Democrats say, be problematic for this White House in the midterm elections.
At the White House, Major Garrett, Fox News.
BREAM: Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson is here to break down this topic. Tucker, he rode in on a huge wave of popularity, obviously, when he was elected. But we continue to see in the polls he polls personally very popular...
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
BREAM: ... the policies not so much. Not surprised it would come from the right. Are you surprised it's coming from the left?
CARLSON: Not really. I mean, there's always a perfectionist caucus in any part. Ronald Reagan took a lot of heat from the right, who didn't think he was cutting government swiftly enough, maybe with some justification. But he kind of smiled and went on about his business.
It's kind of hard, though, in the case of Barack Obama nine months in, who has grand plans for all of us, wants to collectivize health care, take control of the energy sector, reorganize education. I mean, there's really nothing he doesn't want to do. He is not liberal enough?
CARLSON: I mean, you know, that's sick! It's hard to imagine making that case, but there are people making it.
BREAM: You can't say it with a straight face.
CARLSON: It's very hard for me to say it with a straight face. And you also have to think about who's saying it. I mean, there are -- you know, I would say, by and large, the left is happy with Barack Obama. I mean, he hasn't bucked them on any major issue. He hasn't even had a kind of symbolic Sister Souljah moment like Bill Clinton did. Bill Clinton was far more the maverick in the Democratic Party, far more than Barack Obama has been.
He's been sort of a timid party-line guy so far. He may change, but right now, I mean, Allen Grayson from Florida, who's kind of -- not kind of a loose cannon, is, I can say with some authority, a loose canon -- he's mad about it. OK, that signifies nothing. He's going to be mad no matter who's president. He's a made guy.
BREAM: Well, listen, you know, last weekend here in D.C., of course, we had the big gay rights equality march...
BREAM: ... here on Sunday, and there were a lot of people here calling out the president, saying, Haven't done enough on "Don't ask, don't tell'...
BREAM: ... and these other, you know, marriage issues and those kinds of things.
BREAM: How does he work -- because he had made them a lot of promises during the campaign.
CARLSON: He has. He certainly implied promises, and gay rights groups raised a lot of money for Barack Obama. And I actually think their criticism is valid. You know, "Don't ask, don't tell" is a separate question. It's going to be hard for Obama in real life to buck the judgment of military commanders because he never served.
But on the question of gay marriage, what is the argument against gay marriage, if you're Barack Obama? Why shouldn't gay people have the right to form life-long monogamous unions? Why is that bad? Why is Barack Obama against gay marriage? I'm not -- this is -- I'm not being mean. This is not a rhetorical ploy on my part. I don't know the answer to that question. He's never been pressed to answer. He's never been forced to that I have seen, and he ought to be.
You know, these are people who supported him, and you know, why is he denying them the right to be married? So I do think, in the case of the gay rights movement, yes, they have a beef, a real one.
BREAM: OK, so a lot of these folks are -- that are out there criticizing him now from the left are bloggers and pundits...
BREAM: ... and columnists, those kinds of folks. Do you think he's listening to them, or you know, Planning to cave to them in any way, or can he sort of, you know, tune that out at this point?
CARLSON: Well, you -- I mean, at a certain point, if you're president, you know, you can't be Googling yourself every night because it'll probably drive you crazy.
CARLSON: In the case of this president, though, I have been struck since day one by closely he appears to follow coverage of him and his administration.
BREAM: Especially on this network.
CARLSON: Well, that's for certain!
CARLSON: So at the same time (INAUDIBLE) Oh, I don't watch cable news, but there's one network out there that doesn't like me (INAUDIBLE) It's so overwrought!
BREAM: He's aware.
CARLSON: It's pretty amusing! So you know, if he's paying that close attention to cable television, you know, why isn't he reading "The Nation" late at night on line? Maybe he is. I don't know. If any -- if any president is following...
CARLSON: Yes, it would be...
BREAM: For the White House. So is this typical, though, that the honeymoon is sort of over, for anybody who comes in on that high of an approval ranking?
CARLSON: Oh, sure.
BREAM: I mean...
CARLSON: ... you're not going to -- you know, you're not going to -- people aren't going to believe you're God forever. Part of it's natural -- he has fallen, you know, 20 points in not such a long period of time, though. I mean, I think it's -- it's reason for concern, and it is a reason for concern at the White House.
But I, in the end, don't believe that he's going to be punished by the left for anything. They'll fall in line. Most parties do that, that party particularly. Democrats have been out of power a while. They tend to be a pretty obedient group anyway. They follow their leaders without complaining. They followed Bill Clinton. Feminists backed Bill Clinton in the middle of Monica, which tells you exactly how obedient they are. So I don't think he faces any real consequences. But they're going to complain about him, sure.
BREAM: All right, Tucker, thank you very much.
CARLSON: Thanks, Shannon. I appreciate it.
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