Rolling Stone Magazine has an interview with President Obama that hits the stands on Friday, but thanks to the internet, we get to see it before the glossy version comes out. As I was reading it, several things occurred to me. The first is that President Obama is much smarter about politics than our brain dead media. The beltway media has been getting it wrong for years as they float around in the bubble of Washington and practice group think, following the lead of Fox News. This answer from the President shows his understanding of politics in our country.
Q. (Jann Wenner) – Let’s talk about the campaign. Given all we’ve heard about and learned during the GOP primaries, what’s your take on the state of the Republican Party, and what do you think they stand for?
A. (President Obama) – First of all, I think it’s important to distinguish between Republican politicians and people around the country who consider themselves Republicans. I don’t think there’s been a huge change in the country. If you talk to a lot of Republicans, they’d like to see us balance the budget, but in a balanced way. A lot of them are concerned about jobs and economic growth and favor market-based solutions, but they don’t think we should be getting rid of every regulation on the books. There are a lot of Republican voters out there who are frustrated with Wall Street and think that they acted irresponsibly and should be held to account, so they don’t want to roll back regulations on Wall Street.
But what’s happened, I think, in the Republican caucus in Congress, and what clearly happened with respect to Republican candidates, was a shift to an agenda that is far out of the mainstream – and, in fact, is contrary to a lot of Republican precepts.
This is a direct result of the take over of the Republican party by the Tea Party. I know countless Republicans who are not happy with the direction that their party has taken in just the last 3 years. Several of them are already hitching their wagons behind President Obama, I can only imagine that as we get closer to the election, even more will come on board with reality.
As the Republicans wear out the phrase “class warfare”, President Obama lays it out in terms that voters can understand in his answer to this question.
Q. (JW) – How does that shape the tone and tenor of the debate that’s going to take place during the campaign?A. (PBO) – I actually think it will be a useful debate, and one that I look forward to. I think that the American people are going to be listening very intently to who’s got a vision for how we move this country forward.Their vision is that if there’s a sliver of folks doing well at the top who are unencumbered by any regulatory restraints whatsoever, that the nation will grow and prosperity will trickle down. The challenge that they’re going to have is: We tried it. From 2000 to 2008, that was the agenda. It wasn’t like we have to engage in some theoretical debate – we’ve got evidence of how it worked out. It did not work out well, and I think the American people understand that. [...]
Considering the fact that Mitt Romney doesn’t even try to hide his pandering to the wealthy in this country, this argument is going to be an easy one to make and will help defuse the Republican mantra of the “politics of envy”, that is really just an insult to most Americans. People who can’t afford to pay their bills or feed their children aren’t being envious, it’s more like “what the hell, I just want to get by, give me a break!”
On foreign policy, President Obama shows the maturity that all Americans want in their leader. You can see it clearly in his answer to this question.
Q. (JW) – Let me ask you about the Middle East in general. Outside of Iraq, there seems to be more turmoil than ever – in Syria, Israel, Iran. What’s your take on the region and the strategic challenges it poses?A. (PBO) – [...] But what is also true is that these are countries that don’t have deep democratic traditions. Because of repression, in part, the only organizing principle in these societies is religious, and there are sectarian divisions that date back hundreds, in some cases thousands, of years. As these transitions take place, democracy can easily turn to demagoguery, to civil strife. So it is going to be a bumpy road, and a challenging time. I think the American approach has to be to uphold core principles of universal rights, freedom and democracy. We’re also going to have to show some humility, in the sense that we’re not going to be able to completely impose our own vision on these countries.
And finally, this exchange about what the president reads and watches says a lot to me about the type of person he is because it shows he isn’t floating around in the Washington bubble with Chuck Todd and Mike Allen. He isn’t playing their game and it has to drive them nuts.
Q. (JW) – What do you read regularly to keep you informed or provide you with perspectives beyond the inner circle of your advisers?
A. (PBO) – [Laughs] Other than Rolling Stone?
Q. (JW) – That goes without saying.
A. (PBO) – I don’t watch a lot of TV news. I don’t watch cable at all. I like The Daily Show, so sometimes if I’m home late at night, I’ll catch snippets of that. I think Jon Stewart’s brilliant. It’s amazing to me the degree to which he’s able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense – for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do.
I spend a lot of time just reading reports, studies, briefing books, intelligence assessments.
Go read the entire interview, it’s always great to hear his thoughts without a media filter distorting it. I’m very happy with the job President Obama has done and I’m confident he will do an even better job with a Democratic House and Senate next January.
Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles