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NPR’s Exit Interview With President Obama | Morning Edition | NPR


Thanks for joining us one more time; I really
appreciate it. Great to be with you, Steve. Over my shoulder here is Theodore Roosevelt. In 1884, Theodore Roosevelt was frustrated
about an election and wrote a letter saying the voice of the people might be the voice
of God 51 times out of 100, but the other 49, it may be the voice of a devil
or of a fool. Which do you think it was this time in 2016? Well, it’s hard to assess because we know
for example that Hillary won the popular vote by a sizable margin. We know that there are a substantial number
of voters out there who not only voted for me twice but currently support me who also
voted for Donald Trump. So I think we have a scrambled political landscape
right now. There are some things that we know are a challenge
for Democrats — structural problems. For example, population distribution, oftentimes
younger voters, minority voters, Democratic voters, are clustered in urban areas. And on the coasts, sure. And on the coasts, and so as a consequence
you’ve got a situation where there’re not only entire states but also big chunks of
states where, if we’re not showing up, if we’re not in there making an argument, then
we’re going to lose. And we can lose badly, and that’s what happened
in this election. Is this just a matter of showing up, or is
there something wrong with the argument?
– Well… No, well, I don’t think there’s something
wrong with the core argument that the Democratic Party has made for years. And the reason we know that is because on
the individual issues that Democrats talk about there’s strong support. For example, the minimum wage. In every survey across the country, people
support a higher minimum wage. There are clearly, though, failures on our
part to give people in rural areas or in ex-urban areas, a sense day-to-day that we’re fighting
for them or connected to them. Some of it is the prism through which they’re
seeing the political debate take place. They may know less about the work that my
administration did on trying to promote collective bargaining or overtime rules. But they know a lot about the controversy
around transgender bathrooms because it’s more controversial, it attracts more attention. I think that on something like the Affordable
Care Act, you have people who are benefiting right now from Obamacare who either don’t
know it’s Obamacare or consider that as a given and then end up voting on Second Amendment
rights. So part of the reason it’s important to show
up, and when I say show up, I don’t just mean during election time, but to be in there engaging
and listening and being with people, is because it then builds trust and it gives you a better
sense of how should you talk about issues in a way that feel salient and feel meaningful
to people. And I’ve said this before. Part of the reason I got elected twice — and
part of the reason why in a lot of these communities I still have pretty strong support. It was the incredible benefit that I had in
first running for the United States Senate in a state that has a lot of rural communities
and has a downstate that typically is suspicious of Chicagoans in the city. And just sitting down in people’s living rooms
and VFW halls and at fish fries and listening to people. And then in Iowa, spending months traveling
around the state and hearing people’s concerns and them hearing me and getting a sense that
I get it. So that even during my low points in the presidency,
when, you know, poll numbers were bad and news cycle was critical, people always felt
as if I still cared about them — which meant that in 2012, I might still lose the overall
vote and some of these counties or some of these voting districts, but I might lose 55-45
or 60-40 rather than 80-20. That’s as a consequence of not only them seeing
me in these places but it’s also a consequence of me actually being there and hearing them. Were Democrats failing to do that at every
level because your party has lost the majority of races at almost every level at this point? Well, you know, I think that we haven’t done
it as well as we need to. For example, we know that the Republicans,
funded through organizations like the Koch brothers, have been very systematic at… Building from ground up. Building from the ground up and communicating
to state legislators and financing school board races and public utility commission
races, and, you know, I am a proud Democrat, but I do think that we have a bias towards
national issues and international issues, and as a consequence I think we’ve ceded too
much territory. And I take some responsibility for that. You know, when I came into office, you
know, we were just putting out fires. We were in a huge crisis situation. And so a lot of the organizing work that we
did during the campaign, we started to see right away didn’t immediately translate to,
wasn’t immediately transferable to, congressional candidates. And more work would have needed to be done
to just build up that structure and, you know, one of the big suggestions that I have for
Democrats as I leave, and something that, you know, I have some ideas about is, how
do we do more of that ground up building? Do you intend to be involved or just give
advice? Well, I think it’s appropriate for me to give
advice because I need some sleep. And I’ve promised Michelle a nice vacation. My girls are getting old enough now where
I’m clinging to those very last moments before they are out of the house. But there was a political organization that
was built around you that still exists. Well, I’m less likely to get involved in all
the nuts and bolts of electioneering. In that realm, I’m much more likely to just
give advice. What I am interested in is just developing
a whole new generation of talent. There are such incredible young people who
not only worked on my campaign, but I’ve seen in advocacy groups. I’ve seen passionate about issues like climate
change or conservation, criminal justice reform, you know, campaigns for a livable wage, or
health insurance, and making sure that whatever resources, credibility, spotlight that I can
bring to help them rise up. That’s something that I think I can do well,
I think Michelle can do well. That’s part of what makes me optimistic about
our future because I know those young people are out there ready to lead, and when they start moving into more and more
positions of authority, then I think the issues that
I care most deeply about are going to be well served. You want to be a talent scout and build the
bench that Democrats have admitted they don’t have. Well, not only a talent scout but I think
also, you know, a coach, a friend, somebody who can build on the incredible work that
has already been done by young people and that to a large degree was responsible for
getting me elected. Did the Russian hack of the Democratic National
Committee — and other targets — actually affect the results of the election in your
view? There’s no doubt that it contributed to an
atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time, were Hillary’s
e-mails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC. And that whole swirl that ended up dominating
the news meant that number one, issues weren’t talked about a lot in the coverage. Huge policy differences were not debated and
vetted. It also meant that, what I think would have
been a big advantage for Hillary objectively, her experience, her knowledge, her outstanding reputation around the world as
secretary of state, all that stuff got lost. And I think in that scrum, in that swirl,
you know, Donald Trump and his celebrity and his ability to garner attention and obviously
tap into a lot of the anxieties and fears that some voters have, I think, definitely
made a difference. Now know how you would, this … Could you say the election could have turned
out differently? That’s what I want to know. Well, elections can always turn out differently. You never know which factors are gonna make
a difference. But I have no doubt that it had some impact
just based on the coverage. And by the way, I’m talking about mainstream
news coverage. I’m not talking about a whole separate set
of issues around fake news. I’m talking about what was in the New York
Times and the Washington Post and on the nightly news and even on NPR. And it meant that the field where I think
Hillary shone, the field of substance and talking about how we’re actually gonna increase people’s
wages and how we’re gonna provide health care coverage to people and how we’re gonna deal
with major issues like climate change — that wasn’t the field in which the campaign was
ultimately decided. Was that the media’s fault for focusing on
the wrong things or the candidate’s fault for not finding ways to get her message through? Steve, you know, I’d say that Monday morning
quarterbacking is always easy to do. And what I’ve said already publicly, and I’ll
repeat: There is something about our current political ecosystem — and we’re all part of it, the parties, the candidates, the media, the voters — that leads us to avoid going
deep into the issues that are really gonna affect people’s day-to-day lives, that put
a premium on what here in the White House we call the shiny object: the faux scandals,
the trumped up controversies, the… you know, the insults that are flung back and forth. So that it ends up being covered like a reality
show or — at best, a sporting event. And we lose track of the fact that this has
an impact on some family that’s trying to send their kids to college, or some veteran
who’s trying to get their benefits, or whether or not some of our young people get sent to
a far away land to fight a war. And if we don’t, you know, do some hard reflection
— all of us — on how that happens, then we’re like a body that is already weakened
and then becomes more vulnerable to foreign viruses, becomes more vulnerable to manipulation and demagoguery and that’s something that I’m also going to be thinking a lot about
in my afterlife, my post-presidency. You talked about this with the comedian Trevor
Noah the other day. And you said a number of things in a row. You observed that there had been contacts
between members of Mr. Trump’s staff and Russian officials. You noted that Trump benefited from the hacks. Your spokesman, Josh Earnest, has gone on
to say this week that it’s obvious that Trump knew what was going on. To what extent are you suggesting some kind
of cooperation between the president-elect and Russian officials here? Well, I’m, I’m not suggesting cooperation
at all. Keep in mind that those statements were in
the context of everyone now acting surprised by the CIA assessment that this was done purposely
to improve Trump’s chances. And my only point was that shouldn’t be treated
as a blockbuster because that was the worst kept secret in this town. Everybody understood that. It was reported on. Steve, if you go back and look at your stories,
if you read any mainstream publication, you would see that if you have a hack of the DNC
and a hack of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers’ e-mails, and those things are then
released in drip-drip-drip fashion over the course of months, and that seem to generate
consistently negative coverage despite the fact that there’s nothing in there that’s
particularly controversial, that it’s mostly just, as I said, political gossip or routine
emails between folks who are working in a campaign environment, then it’s a pretty clear
inference that people would draw, and did draw, that this was helping the Trump campaign
and it was hurting the Hillary campaign. That doesn’t mean that the Trump campaign
was coordinating. It just means that they understood what everybody
else understood, which was that this was not good for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And when you combine that with the fact that
the president-elect has been very honest about his admiration for Putin and that he hopes
to forge a more cooperative relationship with him and focus on the threat of Islamic terrorism, then my only point was we shouldn’t now suddenly act as if this is a huge revelation. In October, we said, after being very careful
about it because we had no interest in appearing as if we were putting our thumbs on the scales,
we did what was almost unprecedented which was, every intelligence agency in the federal
government arrived at a consensus, that the Russians had hacked the DNC. And the information that was now being released
was as a consequence of a decision by Russian intelligence and Russian officials at the
highest levels. So what the CIA is now assessing, which was
it was done purposefully to tilt the election in the direction of a particular candidate,
shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. And in fact isn’t a surprise to anybody. And as I said before, the issue now is not
relitigating the election. The issue now is for us to learn lessons so
that we don’t have an ongoing situation in every election cycle where you have substantial
foreign influence in our campaigns. There’s another issue going forward. Is it necessary for the security of the United
States that Russia pay some price for doing this? … if, as you said, they did it? I think there is no doubt that when any foreign
government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action
and we will, at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized;
some of it may not be. But Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings
about this, because I spoke to him directly about it. And there is … among the big powers,
there has been a traditional understanding of — that everybody is trying to gather intelligence
on everybody else. It’s no secret that Russian intelligence officers,
or Chinese, or for that matter Israeli, or British, or other intelligence agencies, that
their job is to get insight into the workings of other countries that they they’re not reading
in the newspapers every day. There’s a difference between that and the
kind of malicious cyberattacks that steal trade secrets or engage in industrial espionage,
something that we’ve seen the Chinese do. And there’s a difference between that and
activating intelligence, in a way that’s designed to influence elections. So we have been working hard to make sure
that what we do is proportional. That what we do is meaningful. One of the things that we’re going to have
to do over the next decade is to ultimately arrive at some rules of what is a new game. And that is the way in which traditional propaganda
and traditional covert influence efforts are being turbocharged by the Internet and by
the cyber world. And so the whole issue of cybersecurity and
how we play defense, how we think about offense and how we avoid an escalation of a major
cyber war, or a cyber arms race, is something that some of our smartest folks in government and in the private sector are spending a lot of time
thinking about. Because there is an asymmetry here. We are more digitalized. Our economy is more advanced. It’s much wealthier. And it means that we have certain vulnerabilities
that some of our adversaries don’t have. And this is actually a good example of where,
in addition to whatever actions that we take bilaterally against Russia, we’ve got to spend
some time working at an international level to start instituting some norms, the same
way we did with things like nuclear weapons because ultimately we can have a situation
where everybody’s worse off. That’s what we did with China when we were
seeing repeated hacking primarily for industrial espionage purposes, commercial purposes. They were stealing, you know, technology and
ideas. And I had a very blunt conversation and President
Xi saying, “If you don’t stop it, here’s what we are going to do.” But what we also did was we mobilized the
G-20, and the G7, and the United Nations, to start adopting basic rules saying “this
is not something you do.” And that can make a difference over time. If whatever response you take is not completed
by January 20th, do you have any reason to have confidence that President Trump will
continue it? My view is that this is not a partisan issue. And part of what we should be doing is to
try to take it out of election season and move it into governing season. The irony of all this, of course, is that
for most of my presidency there’s been a pretty sizable wing of the Republican Party that
has consistently criticized me for not being tough enough on Russia. Some of those folks during the campaign endorsed
Donald Trump despite the fact that a central tenet of his foreign policy was we shouldn’t
be so tough on Russia. And that kind of inconsistency, I think, makes
it appear at least, that their particular position on Russia on any given day depends on what’s politically expedient. There was a poll that came out a couple of
days ago that said that 37 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Vladimir Putin. Think about that. Over a third of Republican voters think Putin
is a good guy. This is somebody who — the former head of
the KGB, who is responsible for crushing democracy in Russia, muzzling the press, throwing political
dissidents in jail, countering American efforts to expand freedom at every turn — is currently
making decisions that’s leading to a slaughter in Syria. And a big chunk of the Republican Party, which
prided itself during the Reagan era and for decades that followed as being the bulwark
against Russian influence, now suddenly is embracing him. And my point here is that it’s very important
that we do not let the inner family argument between Americans, the domestic political
differences between Democrats and Republicans, obscure the need for us to stand together,
figure out what it is that the Russians are interested in doing in terms of influencing our democratic process and inoculating ourselves from it. And that requires us having a clear-eyed view
about it. It requires us not to relitigate the election.
It requires us not to point fingers. It requires us to just say “Here’s what happened,
let’s be honest about it and let’s not use it as a political football, but let’s figure
out how we prevent this from happening in the future.” Because it’s not just going to be Russia. It sounds like you hope any response would
continue after January 20. But do you have any reason to know that it
would? Well, you know, I can’t … … look into my crystal ball and, that’s probably a question better directed at the president-elect. I can say that I’ve had a conversation with
the president-elect about our foreign policy generally, and the importance of us making sure that,
in how we approach intelligence gathering, in how we think about fighting
terrorism and keeping the country secure, in how we think about, you know, our relationship
to multilateral organizations, that, you know, we recognize America’s exceptionalism, our
indispensability in the world, in part draws from our values and our ideals and the fact
that even our adversaries generally respect our adherence to rule of law, our transparency,
our openness. And if we start losing that, if other countries
start seeing that “Oh, America doesn’t care about these issues” or it’s just a “might
makes right” environment, and we’re not speaking out on behalf of our values and
demonstrating our values, then America is going to be significantly weakened. Should President-elect Trump, once he’s inaugurated, use his executive powers in the same way
that you have? I think that he is entirely within his lawful
power to do so. Keep in mind though that my strong
preference has always been to legislate when I can get legislation done. In my first two years, I wasn’t relying on
executive powers, because I had big majorities in the Congress and we were able to get bills
done, get bills passed. And even after we lost the majorities in Congress,
I bent over backwards consistently to try to find compromise and a legislative solution
to some of the big problems that we’ve got — a classic example being immigration reform,
where I held off for years in taking some of the executive actions that I ultimately
took, in pursuit of a bipartisan solution — one that, by the way, did pass through the Senate
on a bipartisan basis with our help. I was very proud of that. I went out of my way to make sure our help
was behind the scenes so that Republicans didn’t feel as if it was going to hurt them
politically. At the end of the day, John Boehner and the House Republicans couldn’t pull the trigger on getting it done. And it was only then, after we had exhausted
efforts for bipartisan reform that we took some additional steps on immigration executive
actions. So my suggestion to the president-elect is,
you know, going through the legislative process is always better, in part because it’s harder
to undo. And that doesn’t mean, though, that he is
not going to come in and look at the various agencies and see the rules we’ve passed and
if he wants to reverse some of those rules, that’s part of the democratic process. That’s, you know, why I tell people to vote
because it turns out elections mean something. And this election means even more because
the presidency, as has been widely noted, is so powerful. It’s grown more powerful over generations. You used your power in certain ways, and even
in ways that you’d suggested in the past might be beyond your authority. Well, no, I don’t think I’ve done that. If I’m thinking of immigration, for example. Well, what I said with immigration reform
was that I couldn’t simply sign a document that legalized 11 million people who had come
here illegally and were currently undocumented. What I could do is find categories of people
where we could not prioritize as significant risks. But what I always said was we couldn’t solve
the basic problem of these folks being in the shadows without legislation. Let’s stipulate that you feel that what you
did was clearly within the law. The question for me is has the presidency
become too powerful in your view? I distinguish between domestic policy and
foreign policy. I think on foreign policy, the concern I have right now is because we’re in a nontraditional war. It’s what we call the war on terrorism, although
terrorism to some degree is a tactic. We’re in a war against a non-state, a set
of non-state actors that are operating in the shadows, are in nooks and crannies and
crevices around the world. And what that means is that you’re never going
to have a scene of surrender like we had with the Emperor [Hirohito] and Gen. MacArthur,
where you don’t have a clear start and finish to the use of force. The danger is that over time, Congress starts
feeling pretty comfortable with just having the president do all this stuff and not really
having to weigh in. So for example, we’re still operating in our
fight against ISIL without a new congressional authorization. It’s the authorization that dates back to
9/11. And I think that is an area that we have to
worry about. The president and the executive branch are
always going to have greater latitude and greater authority when it comes to protecting
America, because sometimes you just have to respond quickly and not everything that is
a danger can be publicized and be subject to open debate. But there have to be some guardrails.
And what we’ve had to do on things like drones,
or the NSA, or a number of the tools that we use to penetrate terrorist networks, what
we’ve had to do is to build the guard rails internally. Essentially set up a whole series of processes
to guard against government overreach, to reform some practices that I thought over
time would threaten civil liberties. You know, there are some critics on the left
who would argue we haven’t gone far enough on that. I would argue that we’ve gotten it about right,
although I’m the first one to admit that we didn’t get it all right on day one. There were times where, for example, with
respect to drones, that I had to kind of stop the system for a second, and say,
You know what? We’re getting too comfortable with our ability
to take kinetic strikes around the world without having enough process to avoid consistently
the kinds of civilian casualties that can end up actually hurting us in the war against
radicalization. On the domestic side, the truth is that, you
know, there hasn’t been a radical change between what I did and what George Bush did and what
Bill Clinton did and what the first George Bush did. It’s, you know, the issue of big agencies,
like the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Labor, having to take laws
that have been passed, like the Clean Air Act, which is hugely complicated and very
technical, and fill in the gaps and figure out “What does this mean and how do we
apply this to new circumstances?” That’s not new. Having federal bureaucracies and federal regulations,
that’s not new. I think that what’s happened that I do worry
about is that Congress has become so dysfunctional, that more and more of a burden is placed on
the agencies to fill in the gaps, and the gaps get bigger and bigger because they’re
not constantly refreshed and tweaked. Let’s go back to something like the Affordable
Care Act. I could not be prouder of the fact that the
uninsured rate has never been lower. That 20 million people have health insurance
that we didn’t have before. But I said when the bill passed
that it wasn’t perfect. Over the course of six years of implementing
a very complicated piece of legislation that affects one-sixth of the economy, that there
were going to be things we learned that would allow us to improve it. And I don’t know how many times I’ve said
to Republicans, both publicly and privately, in State of the Union speeches, in town halls
around the country, that if they’re willing to engage and work with me, then we can identify
ways to tweak and improve this system so that more people have health insurance and it works
even better and it’s more stable, and build on the things that seemed to have worked. For example, the fact that we’ve actually
slowed the growth of health care costs since the bill passed. And each time I’ve said this, the basic Republican
response has been “No, all we want to do is repeal it. And we’ll replace it with something later.” And they’re still saying that now post-election,
although as we’ve seen, the best independent estimates are if you just repeal and you don’t
replace you’re going to have 30 million people without health insurance, not to mention people
who already have health insurance suddenly losing a lot of the benefits that individually
are very popular though people don’t know that they’re part of Obamacare, like making
sure that you don’t get barred from getting insurance if you have a pre-existing condition,
or keeping your kid on your health care until they’re 26 years old. So the fierce partisanship, the unwillingness
to engage in amending laws, fixing laws. That then leads to agencies having to scramble
to do more work. And the bottom line is, if you want to right-size
executive power relative to the other branches of government, the best way to do that is
to have a healthy Congress in which the two parties are debating, disagreeing but also
occasionally working together to pass legislation. Couple of other things Mr. President: Is
President-elect Trump right that political correctness in this country
has gone too far? We’ve discussed campus debates here… Yeah, we have. We have, and this is a tricky issue and here’s why: Because the definition of political correctness is all over the map. And I suspect the president-elect’s definition
of political correctness would be different than mine. If what’s meant by political correctness is
that there is some broad disapproval that’s expressed when somebody uses a racial epithet, or somebody makes a derogatory comment
about women, or about the LGBT community, and people
say, “Hey, you shouldn’t do that. That’s wrong, that’s cruel, that’s hurtful. Here’s the history of that word.” And when you use words like that, you’re reinforcing
people feeling like they’re outsiders, and less than other Americans. I don’t consider that political correctness.
I consider that good manners, sound values, and hard-fought gains in the nature of American society and American community. I think it’s a good thing that we don’t think
that using the “n” word is socially acceptable. I think it’s a good thing that we don’t refer
to women in derogatory ways — because I have a couple of daughters, and I don’t want
them to feel that way. Now, if you’re narrowly defining political
correctness as a hypersensitivity that ends up resulting in people not being able to express
their opinions at all without somebody suggesting they’re a victim, you know, if sort of, our
social discourse and our political discourse becomes like walking on eggshells so that
if somebody says “You know what, I’m not sure affirmative action is the right way to solve
racial problems in this country,” and somebody’s immediately accused of being racist, well,
then I think you have a point. Although I happen to approve of affirmative
action, but I think that I can have a polite dialogue with somebody who differs from me
on that issue. And so, on the one hand, my advice to progressives
like myself, and this is advice I give my own daughters who are about to head off to
college, is don’t go around just looking for insults. You’re tough. If somebody says something you don’t agree
with, just engage them on their ideas. But you don’t have to feel that somehow because
you’re a black woman that you’re being assaulted. But speak up for yourself, and if you hear
somebody saying something that’s insulting, feel free to say to that guy, “You know what?” “You’re rude” or “you’re ignorant” and take them on. But the thing that I want to emphasize here
though is, the irony in this debate is often-times you’ll hear somebody like a Rush Limbaugh,
or other conservative commentators, or you know, radio shock jocks, or some
conservative politicians, who are very quick to jump on any evidence of progressives being “politically correct,” but who are constantly aggrieved and hypersensitive about the things they care
about, and are continually feeding this sense of victimization, and that they are being
subject to reverse discrimination. Look, I had to live through controversies
like the notion that I was trying to kill Christmas. Right? Well, where’d that come from? Well, you know, “He said ‘Happy Holidays’
instead of ‘Merry Christmas,’ so that must be evidence of him either not being a Christian
or not caring about Christmas.” It sounds funny now, but you’ll have entire
debates in conservative circles around that. So it cuts both ways. And my advice to young people, and my advice
to all of us as citizens, is to be able to distinguish between being courteous and being
thoughtful and thinking about how words affect other people and not demonizing others versus
having legitimate political debates and disagreements. This raises one other question though, Mr.
President. We’ve talked with a lot of voters, and it’s
clear that for many people this has been an agonizing year, an agonizing political year,
even for people whose side won. Is it possible, though, that that agony has
been good for the country because we are confronting issues of race and identity and the way the
economy is structured, issues that have been with us for a long time? I think that’s a really interesting point. I’ve been accused by friends, enemies, my
wife, of sometimes being overly optimistic. But what can I tell you, this is this is my
temperament generally. And we are going through some growing pains
right now, because the world is changing really fast, and it has throughout my presidency. I started my presidency inheriting a massive crisis of proportions that we haven’t seen since the 1930s. It laid bare some long-term and troubling
trends about globalization, and technology, and rising inequality, and the fragility of
our financial systems, and the way in which middle-class folks felt they were getting
squeezed. And the fact that the ladders of opportunity
seem to be farther and fewer between for people who are trying to get out of poverty. And throughout that process, we also then
started seeing — because when the economy’s not doing well, some other tensions get laid
bare — changing attitudes about sexual orientation, and about race, and about the nature of families. And all of this has been amped up by the revolution
in information, throwing through social media and the Internet. And so it’s a big dose. It’s been a lot of stuff that’s been coming
at people really quickly, and it’s made folks anxious. But I do think that part of the reason for
these tensions is because we’ve been starting to wrestle with some things that ultimately
are solvable if we make some good decisions. The economy right now is stable. And so we have some time to say to ourselves,
even though it’s stable right now, the trend lines are such where more and more jobs are
going to be digitalized, more and more jobs are going to be robotized. What are we going to do to make sure that
as more workers are moving out of manufacturing into the service sector, that they are getting
a decent wage? How are we going to create more jobs once
self-driving cars eliminate a bunch of well-paying jobs of just driving and moving stuff around? How do we rebuild our infrastructure and rebuild
our education system? We can solve these things, but it’s going
to be challenging. And we’ve got to have an honest debate about it. With respect to how we deal with each other, the demographics of the country are going to change. It’s inevitable. The Latino community in America is going to grow. If you stopped all immigration today, just
by virtue of birth rates, this is going to be a browner country. And if we’re not thinking right now about
how we make sure that next generation is getting a good education and are instilled with a
common creed and the values that make America so special and are cared for and nurtured
and loved the way every American child is treated, then we’re not going to be as successful. But the good news is we’ve got time to do it. With respect to race and the relationship
between the African-American community and police, all these smartphones suddenly taking
pictures are not documenting a suddenly worsening relationship between the African-American
community and the police. They are recording what has been a long-standing
tension and the sense on the part of police that they’re put in a very difficult situation
of trying to manage law enforcement in poor communities where guns are easily accessible,
the African-American community being rightly convinced that there is a long history of
racial bias in our criminal justice system. And as painful as it is, that conversation
is long overdue. So, my feeling is that if everybody takes
a breath, and if we can structure a conversation that is less about “how somebody else is trying
to take advantage of me,” and structure the conversation around “how can we work together
to solve problems that makes everybody better off?” that America can emerge stronger. But that requires leadership. It requires citizenship. It requires all of us doing self-reflection
at the same time as we’re fighting on behalf of the things that we care deeply about. And I speak as a progressive Democrat who
is really, really proud of the work we’ve done. I can say, and I can demonstrate, I can document
that the country is a lot better off now than it was when I took office in almost every
dimension. But what I can also say is that we could be
doing even better. There are times where I reflect and ask myself
if, “Is there’s something else I could have done, something that I could have said slightly
differently that would have led to additional progress and less polarization?” And I’ll probably, you know, as I reflect
on my presidency, once I’m out of just the day-to-day scrum of this thing, I’m sure I’ll come up with a whole bunch of things
to add to my list. But I think all of us have to do that. You know, I’ve said this before: This is advanced
democracy, what the founders set up. And, you know, if we either celebrate or despair
just around presidential elections, without spending enough time focusing on how, in our
day-to-day lives, in our local civic lives, in our media, in our culture, if we’re not
spending enough time reflecting on, “What am I doing to be part of the solution as opposed
to being part of the problem?” Then we’ll get better presidents and worse
presidents, but we’re not going to get to where we need to go. If you’ll forgive a final question: I know
you get letters and that your staff gives you a few
letters to read each day. What have the letters been like since the
election? Well, there’s, for not just Democrats, but
also for a number of young people, I think that there’s been concern, fear, in some cases. The letters that worry me most are letters
from either teachers or students themselves, where they say, “I’m in a majority Latino
school, and I’m teaching third graders, and a child will go up to a teacher and say, ‘Why
don’t people like me?’ ” Or a Muslim college student who starts thinking
that there’s no place for her in this country that she loves. Those are the most worrisome and those are
ones where I respond and say that you have to have faith in the basic
goodness of this country and that it outweighs the bad. You’ve been writing back? Yeah, I generally write back as many of the
10 letters I get a night. Now to be fair, because, you know, I try to
make sure that I’m not just getting letters from supporters. There’s been some letters that say, “I am
so glad you’re getting out of here.” “Good riddance. You’ve been a horrible president.” And, uh…
– You write them back, too? And “America’s great again.” Sometimes I do. The most interesting letters I get, because
they’re unexpected, and I’m talking about since the election, have been people who’ve
written and said, “I didn’t vote for you, but I want you to know that I appreciate the manner in which you’ve conducted yourself in office. And I think that you’ve been a good dad.” In some cases they said, “In retrospect I
think you did a pretty good job.” Those letters, in some ways, mean the most
to me because you’re persuading skeptics. But even if you haven’t persuaded them on
the issues, at least maybe they’ve recognized that I’ve tried to be true to the … to the meaning of this office, that I’ve held it in reverence. But it’s worth mentioning that pre-election,
a lot of letters I get, a lot of the letters I get that are most meaningful are really simple. It might be a senior citizen who is complaining
about not having gotten a cost of living adjustment on Social Security and will just list out
their budget for the month, and giving you sort of a vivid picture of how hard it is
to get by. It might be a kid after a shooting like Newtown
saying “I’m scared.” And sometimes it’s just a family that’s writing
to say, “You know what? We have concerns, and things are tough, but,
you know what, we’re resilient and we love each other and we think we’re going to make it, and we hope you stay at it, and we hope you’re hearing us.” Mr. President, thanks for these conversations. I’ve appreciated them very much and I know
many of our listeners have as well. I appreciate it very much. You had something you wanted to add. When we’re discussing the issue of the Russia
hack, I think it is worth noting that when it comes to the motivations of the Russians, that there are still a whole range of assessments taking place among the agencies. And so when I receive a final report, you
know, we’ll be able to I think give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations. But that does not in any way I think detract
from the basic point that everyone during the election perceived accurately that in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton administra — the
Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign. I think you’re stopping short of endorsing
the CIA conclusion that the hack was designed to help Donald Trump as opposed to some other
objective. Well I think the point I’m making is that
right now what you’ve had are CIA leaks, not of an official document. And I think it’s important for the process
of various agencies comparing notes and thinking about these assessments. Because it’s not as if in any of these circumstances,
you know, you just have a signed letter regarding Russian intentions that’s floating around. These are all assessments made based on a
wide range of evidence and different agencies are still looking at all that stuff gathering
it together and hopefully putting into a single package. That’s precisely why I’ve asked that report
to be issued before the 20th so that those aspects of at least that are not classified
can be presented in some form to the public. Those aspects of it that are classified can
be presented as we’ve consistently done on a bipartisan basis to the members of Congress
and the relevant committees.

Stephen Childs

100 Comments

  1. Why was the interview so long? How long does it take to say, you did a shitty job, you're a racist that has made our country worse, and bring back the White House silverware.

  2. 25:22 : Yeah, right. Sore Loser Obama's so goddamn concerned about Russia. Why he didn't do it before then. He gave arms to Iran, did nothing on Syria, went silent on Hong Kong protests, saying to Russia that he is "flexible" & establishing diplomatic relations to Cuba. He mentioned a poll. I can't find it online b/c it doesn't exist. By the way, before Trump's win, Trump said don't rely on the polls. Most of the people who voted for him didn't rely on them. It all adds up to 1 thing: he's a pathetic moron and a very retarded human being.

  3. I'm just wanting to clear some of the bullshit from myself that is Donald Trump

  4. Why are MY tax dollars supporting leftist propaganda NPR? President Trump: Cut funding to NPR!!!

  5. racism and bigotry is a cancer through time. its up to the people to cure it

  6. Funny how everyone was up in arms about Obama at different times of his Presidency…Interviews like these were reported on the last page of a newspaper even. Presently, I would LOVE to go back to the day where our POTUS wasn't front page news or scrutinized by everyone! I miss not worrying if my health insurance would be ripped out from under me! I miss hearing intellectual conversations Obama had with world leaders or just the bookstore owner down the street! Never worrying that America would be embarrassed by the POTUS's "Tweets"!

  7. Informing, important and intelligent, watching the last 3/8ths of it

  8. What obama doesn't say Trump, is the celebritization of him and the forgetting about politics.

  9. what pre amps do they use for the mic's? sound quality is great

  10. President Barack Obama made me a very proud man. You will NEVER be forgotten in my book

  11. 8 months later, President Obama, I guess you think differently about 'coordination' or the legal word 'COLLUSION', don't you Sir ?

  12. I am always blown away by his intelligence and thoughtfulness. Just imagine trump answering some of these questions.

  13. hope you guys agree with my comment. I truly believe NPR is as bias as foxnews. there agenda is obvious. Kill your radio.

  14. He looks very drained and has had enough. Being president is very hard.

  15. He's so boring. Talk at a normal speed. uh uh uh err uh well.. get the fuck out. MAGA

  16. This, ah, bozo can not, ahh, carry on a, ahhh, conversation without, ahhhh, that damnedable, ahhhhh, teleprompter!!!

  17. Approximately 300 "ah" words uttered by the great orator in this very shallow interview. Such difficult questions! I know. When a person with such galactic scale intelligence is alone, without his teleprompter, he, or she, needs to edit, at warp speed, these difficult questions, and utter some form of digestible pablum which will flow smoothly into all the Marxist, socialist, leftist skulls-full-of-mush!

  18. Inga karllson:thank you so much for your support it means the world to me, you are so much more than a mentor. You are a true friend , I treasure our friendship and I m truly thankful for you.. John karlsson: mr Barack Obama. My entire. Life had been devoted to baseball, I d been playing since I was old enough to remember. That s John K arlsson:::he's going to make it big somefay:: Thenk. You for memorial hospital. A TRY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR, LOVE. INGA. JOHN MARLSSON

  19. N'ational P'ropaganda R'adio" is Money/Dead corporate media brain wash fake new BS
    & i despise Obama & his phony liar corporate war mongered race bating legacy ~ i voted for him twice ~
    I will Never vote Democrat Again ~ Never Ever

  20. Oh yea RUSSIA is against democracy? U fool what about Saudi Arabia and them funding terrorists in a DICTATORIAL EXTREMIST SUPPORTING GOVERNMENT while Russia fights terrorists.

  21. We don't realize what we have till we've lost it. I'm glad to have lived through Obama era. He will be missed greatly missed and history will remember him kindly.

  22. I wonder if Barack ever reads any of the comments made on his interviews like this?

  23. Great video and channel! I like what I saw. My channel has good content like yours you should check it out!

  24. It's impossible to imagine how the ass hats swallowed all Hussein's BS. While he's whining, you almost think he's got a big turd under his tailbone. He, the Clinton's, and the Bush's, almost robbed us of our identities. I don't think it was just their greed for money and power, but that they were all obeying their master! God will bring all their darkness to light. I don't think there is another man in this country who could accomplish what the Don has! He was sent by God in our lowest low. It was many uphill years, being robbed, lied to, and set up for the kill! Neither Obama or Hillary ever got near the majority vote. All was fraud! In God, we can trust again! Team Trump! The rest is on a level playing field! Grow up children! This is the greatest history, ever, in the making! Obama will be like Mussilini! Blah! Blah! Blah! Boring lie's are over as soon as they are locked up! All that talk and he said nothing but lie's! God Bless America!

  25. Socrates often talked about the flaws of democracy and how you need a philosopher king.

    Obama was an elected philosopher king.

    Trump is an example of how democracy could go wrong

  26. Don’t pay any attention to the comments they are repugnant uneducated masses that have no business judging complicated nation state management

  27. he needs a nice vacation? you have more vacation time than most people in the states.

  28. WORLDS BIGGEST LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!  So glad this idiot is out of the White House ………. because of this liar, I lost my doctor and my health care plan (which he said I would keep) …… now maybe our country can get back on the right track!!  I did not vote for President Trump …… but if Clinton had been elected we would have been doomed ………. I just pray President Trump will help EVERYONE …. and not just liberals ……

  29. It is a valid point Obama makes.. that when he came to office.. he had inherited a massive mess. There was a lack of distributed wealth, and so infrastructure was neglected…people with basic needs to survive were walking the streets and in many cases living on them… and international relations were swept into the abyss. The reputation of the US abroad was in tatters with transgressions in Iraq .. torturing of prisoners…and like we have now a country that was full of fear and anxiety. And Obama made changes that were not heard of, because they were not bells and whistles or flashy changes. he addressed micro and macro changes. The media forever looking for headlines… only reported what they thought was not done. People wanted improvement instantly. Now, we are seeing the rewards of Obama's efforts, for which Trump is taking credit.. a fall in unemployment and rise in wages… nothing at all to do with Trump, who if anything, has sent a wrecking ball into all the recovery and reform of Obama. A public that was devastated by Bush.. given treatment by Obama…as best he could in his allotted time.. and now before the recovery can fully take place .. Trump has everyone being reckless once more. Governance has declined into sound bites. where the current regime is in election mode instead of governing. Trump won by default… and false promises .. and an unfair assessment of Obama's time in office. Obama apart from inheriting a mess, had to fight the spoilers in the congress, and among the elite and powerful. In other words, if we can not govern.. we will not let you govern. We will make it so the only change you can implement is through Presidential veto..and we (and they did) will hold the country to ransom by blocking supply.. an act which reinforces the bent of the conservatives to care more about politicking than governance. On that basis alone the public should have rejected a conservative govt.. for holding the nation hostage. Trump has no vision or policies for the country. His agenda is simply undoing anything that he thinks elevates Obama… and showcasing like a TV reality show everything he does, which is not reform, simply the politics of fear.. build a wall.. isolate America.. condemn immigrants.. perpetual fear and anxiety to create fervor and then portend to protect the public. Hopefully, we will see either an impeachment on the grounds Trump is unfit for office.. and at the very least he will occupy (because he does not serve) for one term. Lastly, we should take heed, those of us who are indignant at Trump's churlish and reckless behavior that is amoral and derisive, is to make sure we prevent it happening again, to sure up all the instruments that prevent a Bush or Nixon, or Trump winning by default and deceit.

  30. How this man operated at such a high level with such poise baffles me?

  31. Nemo here. 5.13.2018. What a Wise man, Leader. Ex-President. How do we select and elect a man like this for President, Congress, Local Political figures. etc.. That is where we need to direct our attention. To troubleshoot and correct the process so that we are led by our better natures, and the Better Natures of our local officials, etc.. Wise Leadership.. How we recognize wisdom.and appreciate it.

  32. I REMEMBER LISTENING TO OBAMA'S LAST INTERVIEW ON MORNING EDITION 12-20-2016

  33. He speaks so well and seems so nice but what he says is shit and he is a snake.
    Thank god Trump won.

  34. All that money Obama gave Iran has resupplied Islamic terrorists with the bombs and ammunition to kill and maim American servicemen and women. If that is not proof that Obama HATED America I don't know what else you would need. Open your eyes for God's sake!

  35. Not sure if he was the best president, but definitely respect his poise and professional reassuring presence.

  36. OBUMMA was great for 8yrs, but he was serving only for OBUMMAS, now they are Multi-Millionaires. 3rd WORLD COUNTRIES you see that, POLITICIANS turn into Multi-Millionaires after POLITICS are SICK PEOPLE.

  37. The great deceiver is here. Each time he laughs, he is laughing at us for believing him. He lies with every breath of his being. He is going to jail, but doesn't seem to get that yet.

  38. PS. No Obama, Hillary did not get the popular vote either. The election was rigged so 20% of the votes for Trump went to Hillary thanks to rigged computers. That comes from an ex CIA man. No way did Hillary get the popular vote and if she again without rigging, she would lose again in a landslide.

  39. Obama seyz that the #DemLeaks emails are mostly gossip and that there's nothing in there that is particularly controversial. THIS is why his lying ass can't be trusted. 😡😠 #DemExit

  40. This doesn't seem real as we now struggle through a deepening nightmare. Thanks, NPR, for a glimpse of what was, what we lost, what lies ahead.

  41. Terribly sad that not of one of the negative commenters even bothered to listen to any of this. Whatever you think of the man, and there are strong criticisms to be made of aspects of his presidency, he is articulate and considered and it is so plainly obvious that he cared about the people he served and conducted himself with dignity and respect throughout. He truly was presidential and did everything he could to help the American people. Trump's branding, self-absorption and financial gain at the expense of the public stands in stark contrast.

  42. Scared, crap president, he was weak, did nothing but ruin my family's insurance policy

  43. เงินจาก จาค็อบนะคะ ไม่ใช่คนอื่นเค้าให้แล้วเผื่อแผ่ ไม่ได้มาจากเรื่องอื่น

  44. โดนผู้ชายทำร้าย Abuse จิตใจอย่างรุนแรงค่ะ ทำร้ายทั้งการงาน จิตใจ ดีไม่จับขาย

  45. ทองคำคืนวห้ประเทศนั้นๆแล้วซื้อกับรัฐบาลโดยหังหน้าวง เท่ากับถูกต้อฃตามกฏหมายเพระาในความจริงต้องมีการซื้อขายค่ะ

  46. This feels like two decades ago. The gaslighter in chief has exhausted me.

  47. I love this guy because he can smoke weed and hangout with him. then I realize you can't trust this guy on leading a country. But hey, thanks for going to all Tonight Shows and singing with Beyonce and Jay Z, your so busy singing karaoke songs with Jimmy Fallon that you could care less about trade agreements with China, fucking up the middle east, giving money to all the banks and getting to war with Russia. But you know what forget about it, what you say makes me felt good on the inside. You did remind me of my ex, tells me good things and give me flowers, then fucks all the whore when your at work or just outside the house. You are truly a Muslim man you are.

  48. Oh please shut up we had to listen to you for so many years we don't want to hear you now retire please

  49. The two party system is so good, you guys don't even know. Keep it on, forever

  50. God I have never see so much pandering as I see in comments. History will not be kind to Obama. NPR is a corporate run hack of the Democratic Party. As for Obama he thinks he represents liberalism in the US. But what he will be known in history as a weak little man wit charm.

  51. The Obamas are deeply missed. The U.S. owes President Obama a debt of gratitude for his unwavering, intelligent service to the nation.

  52. I wish Barry would exit stage left into an early grave, inept, corrupt, traitorous POS!

  53. Worst. POTUS. Ever. If I could rescind my votes for this fake, believe me, I would. It’s amazing that one could be worse than Bill Clinton. Good riddance. What a lying POS.

  54. This isn't a left winged news cast at all 🤣🤣🤣 @NPR think outside of the box; get off the msm rhetoric & change your tune . Your news is repetitive of cnn & msnbc

  55. 😈NO MORE ISLAM HUSSAIN😈😈😈🕋🕋🕋🦍🦍🦍GO TO HELL🦍🦍🦍🦍🐷🐷🐷🤡🤡🤢🤢🤢😈😈😈🙉🙉🙉🙉🙉🔥🔥🔥💀💀💀💀🤢🤢🤡🤡🤡🤡🦇🦇🦍🦍🦍🐷🐷🐷

  56. NPR is consumed with race Barack Obama is consumed with race nothing short of a con man that can't be criticized fuck him and fuck NPR

  57. This piece of shit what's going to hold back Federal funding Two Cities states that did not let a man go to the bathroom with a little girl or take a shower at school with a girl what the fuck?

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