In his own words: Obama in China
Updated 10:29 a.m.
President Obama did a spate of interviews Wednesday morning China Standard Time before leaving Beijing for a visit to South Korea, where he will round out his Asia trip. In these sit-downs with television anchors from CNN, CBS, Fox and NBC, Obama touched on Afghanistan, terror trials in New York, Israel, the American ecomomy and Sarah Palin.
ON HIS HALF-BROTHER, WHO LIVES IN CHINA
Well, you know, I don't know him well. I met him for the first time a couple of years ago. He stopped by with his wife for about five minutes during the trip. I haven't read the book.
But it's no secret that my father was a troubled person. Anybody who's read my first book, "Dreams of My Father," knows that, you know, he had an alcoholism problem and that he didn't treat his families very well. And, you know, so, obviously, that's just a sad part of my
history and my background. But it's not something that I -- I spend a lot of time brooding over.
ON SARAH PALIN'S BOOK
Look, obviously, Sarah Palin's attracted a lot of attention. She is going to do very well with this book. That's clear.
And, you know, I -- I probably -- look [at] it, but I don't get a chance to read things other than briefing books very often these days anyway.
ON HEALTH-CARE REFORM
In response to the questions, "And you hear Democrats sometimes say, you know, why isn't the president more like LBJ? Why doesn't he grab them by the lapels and get this done and get more specific in enforcing deadlines?"
The truth of the matter is that we've been very specific. LBJ didn't have the Congressional Budget Office, just to give you one example of how complicated the process in Washington has become....
There are just a lot of procedural hurdles that explain why health care hasn't been dealt with in 40, 50, 70 years.
But I remain confident that we are going to get this done.
ON THE PACE OF CHANGE
Well, I -- I think that there is no doubt that in the same way that, on domestic policy, our first job was to stabilize the situation and to prevent disaster, on the international stage, our first job was to stabilize the situation to allow us to move forward.
A lot of our initiatives have not yet borne fruit, but we knew that something like Iran's nuclear program wasn't going to be solved in a year.
The question is are we moving in the right direction?
And I think there's no doubt that we are.
ON AMERICA'S STANDING IN THE WORLD
think that we've restored America's standing in the world, and that's confirmed by polls.... I think a recent one indicated that around the world, before my election, less than half the people -- maybe less than 40 percent of the people -- thought that you could count on America to do to the right thing. Now it's up to 75 percent.
My preference would be to not hand off anything to the next president. One of the things I'd like is for the next president to come in and say, 'I've got a clean slate, and I can come in and put my vision forward that I presented to the American people.' We are very close to a decision. I will announce that decision certainly in the next several weeks.
For more on Obama's remarks on Afghanistan, see "In Beijing, Obama addresses Afghanistan, economy, graying hair."
There are a range of things we know we have to do. And, at this point, it's a matter of fine-tuning strategy that we can be confident will be successful and also won't be open-ended. And I think General McChrystal shares the same goal I do, and the same goal the American people do, which is for us to be able to protect our homeland, protect our allies, protect U.S. interests around the world.
ON LEAKS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN DECISION-MAKING:
I think I'm angrier than [Defense Sec.] Bob Gates about it.... We have deliberations in the situation room for a reason; we're making life and death decisions that affect how our troops are able to operate in a theater of war. For people to be releasing info in the course of deliberations is not appropriate.
Asked if it was "a firing offense," Obama replied:
There may be some tax provisions that can encourage businesses to hire sooner rather than sitting on the sidelines. So we're taking a look at those. I think it is important, though, to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.
The situation in the Middle East is very difficult, and I've said repeatedly and I'll say again, Israel's security is a vital national interest to the United States, and we will make sure they are secure. I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous.
Part of I think the task here is making sure that Afghanistan is sufficiently stable so that we can make that hand off. So my goal is exactly what you described, creating a situation in which our footprint is smaller and Afghan security forces can do the job of keeping their country together, they're not there yet, they need help from us and that's exactly what our strategy is going to be designed to do....
This decision will put us on a path towards ending the war.
ON TERROR TRIALS:
I think that it is important for the American people to have confidence in ourselves and to recognize that when people carry out venal acts like this that we are able to handle it. Military commissions have been set up because there may be circumstances where the targets are military, outside of the U.S.
November 18, 2009; 8:58 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Sarah Palin
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