MSNBC’s Capehart Praises Obama: He ‘Wouldn’t Get Down in the Mud’

The media fawning over former President Obama and his new memoir continued on MSNBC Live on Friday as Washington Post journalist and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart joined host Craig Melvin to talk about his interview with Obama. Capehart effectively re-wrote the history of the Obama era as he was amazed at the former president’s unwillingness to “get down in the mud.”

Capehart was noting that Obama’s faith in young people gives him optimism for the future which, according to Capehart, has allowed Obama to take the high road:

That optimism sometimes drove his supporters crazy because he wouldn’t get down in the mud. He always kept it high. You know Michelle Obama, ‘when they go low, we go high,’ but he was always relentlessly optimistic about appealing to people’s better natures. He writes in the book, you know, he sees how that could be frustrating for folks and how he thought maybe people would come around and work with him.

This about the man who ran for re-election on the premise that Mitt Romney, now widely regarded as a sensible Republican in the age of Trump, was a racist, predatory rich guy who didn’t care that people got cancer and while he was pushing grandma off a cliff was also waging a war on women.

Melvin then played a clip of the interview of Obama saying, “I think Joe Biden is right to say that we should all make an effort to do our best to lower the temperature and listen to the other side, but I think when you have a current president who’s entire style is to fan division, that’s hard.”

He then asked Capehart, “What was your takeaway from that response? I found it curious.”

Capehart recalled a passage from Obama’s book about Obama being disgusted by anti-Bush protestors on Inauguration Day 2009, “So I asked him last night, so, does that mean when we see the inevitable demonstrators against President Trump, given everything that we’ve seen, are you going to be angry on his behalf? Is that a sign that we have degraded as a society. His immediate answer was, ‘that was 2008, this is 2020.'”

Capehart claimed that the president who battled nuns in court and called fellow Americans bitter clingers, “understands that we have a sitting president who has done nothing for the last four years but pick at this nation’s wounds incessantly and rile people up and incite people to all sorts of behaviors,” which would justify breaking COVID regulations, “so President Obama is like, you know, if folks are going to get out there, assuming that there is some kind of mass—in the age of COVID–mass demonstrations, people are within their right to do that given everything that’s happened.”

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Here is a transcript of the November 20 show:

MSNBC

MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin

11:42 AM ET

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, look, when you read his book, it is right there in the preface that he still chooses to believe that the experiment that is America is one that will prevail despite everything that is happening and he believes that because he puts all of his faith in young people, puts all of his faith in this next generation that’s coming up. He writes in the book that he wrote the book in the way that he wrote it as a way of inspiring young people, showing them how they, too, could get into public service. Also, Craig, weave covered him since he was a senator and his two terms as president. That optimism sometimes drove his supporters crazy because he wouldn’t get down in the mud. He always kept it high. You know Michelle Obama, “when they go low, we go high,” but he was always relentlessly optimistic about appealing to people’s better natures. He writes in the book, you know, he sees how that could be frustrating for folks and how he thought maybe people would come around and work with him. But even despite that, he’s optimistic. 

CRAIG MELVIN: The nation so incredibly divided right now in so many ways. President-Elect Joe Biden, he ran on a platform, in part, of closing that divide. I want to play part of what former president Obama told you about that specifically. 

BEGIN CLIP

BARACK OBAMA: I think Joe Biden is right to say that we should all make an effort to do our best to lower the temperature and listen to the other side, but I think when you have a current president who’s entire style is to fan division, that’s hard – 

END CLIP

MELVIN: What was your takeaway from that response? I found it curious. 

CAPEHART: Okay, so here’s the thing. In order to understand that response, you have to hear the question I asked him. In the book, there was this having testing vignette about his Inauguration Day when he was riding in The Beast, in the presidential limousine from the white house to The Capitol. They rounded a turn heading to the capitol and was then President-Elect Obama saw protesters, saw them holding signs, one saying “indict Bush”, the other one saying “war criminal.” He writes about how it made him angry to see that and that it was lacking class and graceless for people to protest this man in his final moments as president of the United States. He saw it as the further degradation of society. So I asked him last night, so, does that mean when we see the inevitable demonstrators against President Trump, given everything that we’ve seen, are you going to be angry on his behalf? Is that a sign that we have degraded as a society. His immediate answer was, “that was 2008, this is 2020.” So when you know that, that’s when his answer really makes sense. He does think that President-Elect Biden is right to try to tamp down the passions, but he also understands that we have a sitting president who has done nothing for the last four years but pick at this nation’s wounds incessantly and rile people up and incite people to all sorts of behaviors and so President Obama is like, you know, if folks are going to get out there, assuming that there is some kind of mass—in the age of COVID–mass
demonstrations, people are within their right to do that given everything that’s happened.

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