Monday, March 23, 2009

President Obama on 60 Minutes

By Broadway Carl

Here's why I like my new President. He tells people the truth. He tells people what the need to hear although it may not necessarity be what they want to hear.

President Obama sat down with Steve Kroft for a 60 Minutes interview to take his message directly to the American people. Yes, it's edited by CBS, but an extended interview is better than a 30 second sound bite from the cable chatter news networks.

Here's a question: Do you think another President would be honest enough admit to a fear of further "systemic risks" when interviewer Steve Kroft asked? I don't. I'm also happy that he got a chance to reply to the criticism Dick Cheney has been spewing of late, and exactly the reasons Cheney and the Bush administration were wrong when it came to the detainees at Guantanamo.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Here is the more complete response (bold indicates comments left out of video above):
"I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. Not surprisingly. You know, I think that Vice President Cheney has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests. I think he's drawing the wrong lesson from history," Obama said.

"The facts don't bear him out. I think he is, that attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world. I mean, the fact of the matter is after all these years how many convictions actually came out of Guantanamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment. Which means that there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against U.S. interests all around the world," he added.

"Some of it being organized by a few people who were released from Guantanamo," Kroft pointed out.

"Well, there is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals that we've got to make sure are not a threat to us, who are folks that we just swept up. The whole premise of Guantanamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists. I fundamentally disagree with that. Now, do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not," Obama said.

Asked what should be done with these people, Obama said, "Well, I think we're gonna have to figure out a mechanism to make sure that they not released and do us harm. But do so in a way that is consistent with both our traditions, sense of due process, international law. But this is the legacy that's been left behind. And, you know, I'm surprised that the vice president is eager to defend a legacy that was unsustainable. Let's assume that we didn't change these practices. How long are we gonna go? Are we gonna just keep on going until you know, the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us? Do we think that's really gonna make us safer? I don't know a lot of thoughtful thinkers, liberal or conservative, who think that that was the right approach."

Of course, the only thing taken out of this interview by the right wing crazies today is that President Obama laughed and smiled through a couple of questions that were no laughing matter. Steve Kroft set them up for it, and the wingnuts swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.
"You're sitting here. And you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people gonna look at this and say, 'I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money.' How do you deal with, I mean, explain the…mood and your laughter," Kroft asked. "Are you punch drunk?"

"No, no. There's gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day," Obama explained. "You know, sometimes my team talks about the fact that if you had said to us a year ago that the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem, I don't think anybody would have believed it. But we've got a lot on our plate. And a lot of difficult decisions that we're gonna have to make."

Steve Benen notes that this should be put in perspective, and if you did watch the interview, this is exactly the perspective that I drew.
About half-way through, Kroft brings up aid to the auto industry, and public opposition to additional government investment. The two share a laugh at the one-sided polling numbers, which led to Kroft's question about "laughing." As Steve M. explained, "[I]t's obvious -- the chuckling is mutual as they agree about the extraordinary unpopularity of bailing out the auto industry."

When you see reports today about the president laughing at economic hardship, keep this in mind.

Cross-posted at Broadway Carl's Blog-O-Mania!

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