On PBS, Stephanopoulos Insists Obama's 'Done Remarkably Well' in Office Despite Tough Times

ABC's George Stephanopoulos appeared on Tuesday night's Charlie Rose show on PBS to discuss what Rose described as 'the political implications of the debt-limitation talks.' Rose tried to compare Obama to Clinton. Stephanopoulos resisted the idea that Obama was more 'cautious.'

In fact, when asked on the July 12 show how Obama is doing overall, Stephanopoulos pulled out the old line about how nobody 'in our lifetime' has been dealt a tougher hand coming into the White House, as if Ronald Reagan had it easy faced with Carter-era inflation and unemployment. Grading on a recession curve, he's 'done remarkably well,' Stephanopoulos maintained:

CHARLIE ROSE: How is he doing overall in your judgment, the President?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Solid. I mean, it's hard to imagine - I'm trying to think in our lifetime if anybody's been dealt a tougher hand coming into the White House. And given that, I think he's done remarkably well.

The fact, if you just looking at the politics first, the fact that he's been able over the course of what, more than two years now, to maintain a personal favorability for most of the time above 50 percent when he's had most of the time nine percent unemployment, that's pretty remarkable. That's pretty steady. I think people respect him even more than they like him. I think that. I think in terms of the big policy decisions he's had to make, and I know a lot of people would disagree with this, I think that any President that came in in January of 2009 would have had to make the moves he made to shore up the financial system. I think there's no question.

(Listen to the MP3 audio)

To talk up Obama's personal favorability rating is a sure sign of spin - Bush's was higher than his low job approval rating. Denizens of the Rose show would have laughed at trying to tout Bush's favorability numbers. To pick up where it left off, Stephanopoulos favored a bigger 'stimulus,' just like the liberal Clinton aide who felt Dick Morris was dragging Clinton too far right, but didn't think it was politically feasible:

ROSE: He had to stop that, stop the slide before doing anything else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the stimulus, you know, I was going to say I understand the argument, the critics on both sides. I tend to agree personally more with those who say that more was necessary then. On the other hand-

ROSE: They should have made it $1.3 trillion or something.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But see, I don't think that was possible.

ROSE: It wasn't. That's what they say.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean Paul Krugman may have a valid argument when he says, and I know a lot of people disagree with it, when he said you needed a $1.3 trillion. I'm 99 percent sure that there was no way that you were going to get anything with a '1' in front of it through the Congress.

- Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Tim Graham on Twitter.