David Gregory turns on Obama: ‘He doesn’t have that toughness about him’

Brendan Bordelon | Contributor

NBC’s David Gregory — hardly a fierce critic of the White House — appears to be moving further away from President Obama by the day, telling Larry King on Thursday that the president “doesn’t have the toughness” required to make Obamacare work.

In an interview on “Politicking with Larry King,” set to air Thursday night on RT America, the veteran journalist and host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” told King that Obamacare’s disastrous roll out is due to two things: the utter incompetence of government in general, and the utter lack of White House leadership in particular.

“People say, ‘This is the Internet president, look what he did on his campaign,'” he said, according to an advance transcript of the exchange. “But that was a private company that ran his campaign, a private enterprise, that wasn’t the government. The government is not as good as this. That’s the bottom line.”

“And the fact that [Obama] didn’t know it kind of underscores his second problem,” Gregory continued. “I don’t know who’s around him, Larry, who really uses the muscle of the Oval Office to get things done. It hasn’t been his Chief of Staff, and there’s not other people who say, ‘The President wants this, we’re going to get this right or people are going to lose it. They’re going to lose their jobs and heads are going to roll. We’re going to get this right.’ He doesn’t seem to have that leadership style. He doesn’t have that toughness about him. And so making the machinery of government work is that much harder.”

It’s the latest in a rather surprising progression for Gregory, who for years styled himself as one of the president’s most high-profile media defenders. He’s called Newt Gingrich a racist for labeling Obama a “food stamp president” and accused Republicans of “just trying to jam the president up” on the debt ceiling, and that’s just scratching the surface.

But the Obamacare fiasco seems to have finally awakened in Gregory a strange new disrespect for the president’s policies. He’s wondered if Obamacare is simply “too big” for the government to handle and compared Obamacare’s political fallout to the beating President Bush took over the Iraq War. He even asked California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi marginally tough questions on the collapsing health-care law she pushed through Congress.

And now he’s directly criticizing President Obama’s leadership. My, how the times have changed.

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