The full audio:
The Story via Politico:
Barack Obama, that prematurely gray elder statesman, is laboring mightily to remain neutral during Hillary Clinton’s battle with Bernie Sanders in Iowa, the state that cemented his political legend and secured his path to the presidency.
But in a candid 40-minute interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast as the first flakes of the blizzard fell outside the Oval Office, he couldn’t hide his obvious affection for Clinton or his implicit feeling that she, not Sanders, best understands the unpalatable pragmatic demands of a presidency he likens to the world’s most challenging walk-and-chew-gum exercise.
“[The] one thing everybody understands is that this job right here, you don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” a relaxed and reflective Obama told me in his most expansive discussion of the 2016 race to date.
Iowa isn’t just a state on the map for Obama. It’s the birthplace of his hope-and-change phenomenon, “the most satisfying political period in my career,” he says — “what politics should be” — and a bittersweet reminder of how far from the garden he’s gotten after seven bruising years in the White House.
The caucuses have a fierce-urgency-of-now quality as Obama reckons with the end of his presidency — the kickoff of a process of choosing a Democratic successor he hopes can secure his as-yet unsecured legacy, to keep Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or somebody else from undoing much of what he has done. And he was convinced Clinton was that candidate, prior to the emergence of Sanders, friends and associates have told me over the past 18 months.
“Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose,” he said. “I think Hillary came in with the both privilege — and burden — of being perceived as the front-runner. … You’re always looking at the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before — that’s a disadvantage to her.”
He also spoke of Bernie Sanders:
Obama didn’t utter an unkind word about Sanders, who has been respectfully critical of his administration’s reluctance to prosecute Wall Street executives and his decision to abandon a single-payer health care system as politically impractical. But he was kinder to Clinton. When I asked Obama whether he thought Sanders needed to expand his horizons, if the Vermont senator was too much a one-issue candidate too narrowly focused on income inequality, the presidente didn’t dispute the assertion.
Gesturing toward the Resolute Desk, with its spread-winged eagle seal, first brought into the Oval Office by John F. Kennedy, Obama said of Sanders: “Well, I don’t want to play political consultant, because obviously what he’s doing is working. I will say that the longer you go in the process, the more you’re going to have to pass a series of hurdles that the voters are going to put in front of you.”
Then he added: “As you’ll recall, I was sitting at my desk there just a little over a week ago … writing my State of the Union speech, and somebody walks in and says, ‘A couple of our sailors wandered into Iranian waters’” — and here he stopped to chuckle in disbelief — “that’s maybe a dramatic example, but not an unusual example of the job.”
As much as I hate to say it; President Obama is correct about that one. The office of the President of the United States is a very difficult job and it requires someone who can handle the job. While Bernie Sanders might be a respectable person and all; if I were voting in a Democratic Primary, there is no way that I would vote for Bernie Sanders, I would most likely vote for Hillary Clinton. Because she has already been there and she seems, for a Democrat, a bit more reasonable, than Bernie Sanders.
Needless to say, being an ideologue is great; if you are an activist or even maybe a Senator. However, when you are the commander and chief, that is a whole other ballgame and there is a certain amount of pragmatism is required in that office, if you actually want to succeed at the job. You have to remember, when you are President; you are President of the people of the United States of America, not just the President of the people who voted for you. You have to take into account everyone, not just those who voted for you. This is why I am not too keen on Ted Cruz; he is an extreme ideologue on the right, where Bernie Sander is an extreme ideologue on the left.
This is where I think Donald Trump might just be the more pragmatic candidate, who might just be able to get things done in DC and put aside some of this partisan rancor that has become so terrible under Bush and Obama. Now, if we could just work on his humility and get him to stop retweeting stuff like this here.
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