Obama Admits Mistakes, Didn't Prepare Americans for Economic 'Long Haul'

Saturday, 24 Dec 2011 11:53 AM

By Gary Cohen

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President Obama wishes he had done a better job of communicating to Americans the extent of the nation's economic difficulties.

In a sweeping interview on ABC's 20/20 with Barbara Walters which aired Friday night, the president criticized himself for not outlining in an effective way to the public that the economic recovery was going to be a "long haul."

Obama accepted some of the blame for the gridlock in Washington, admitting he has come up short on a campaign promise to go beyond the usual partisan ways business is conducted between the White House and Capitol Hill.

He acknowledged that the executive and legislative branches have not worked together most of his first three years in office.

"That mindset doesn't exist in Washington right now," Obama told Walters.

Added Obama, "I take some responsibility for making sure that that spirit which I think the country longs for, that we can somehow get that in Congress as well."

In looking back at what he has accomplished thus far,  Obama admitted he has made mistakes, particulary on communicating about the economy.

"I think probably once a day, I look back and say, 'you know, I could have done that a little bit better.' "

Name a few, Walters prodded.

When he took on the presidency, Obama said, "we made a decision not to scare the American people with how bad the economy might get. But I think I could have done a better job preparing the American people, to let them know, this is going to be a long haul, this is not your typical recession."

Watch a portion of the interview below.





The president disagreed in the sit down with any notion that he is aloof or lacks emotion, using a Star Trek character to drive home the point.

Obama said he is not,"detached or Spock-like or very analytical."

As if to prove he has the ability to become emotional, the president was particularly animated when he spoke this week from the White House about the struggles on the Hill concerning the payroll tax extention.

In the interview taped before House Speaker John Boehner announced a deal had been reached to bring the payroll tax cut extention to a vote on the floor, Obama ripped into what was going on in the House.

"This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree. How can we not get that done?" Obama blared.

"Has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things, we can't do it? It doesn't make sense," he thundered.

The president told Walters the healthcare issue is another one in which Americans could see how the White House and Congress have not worked together.

In making reference to GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Obama illustrated more of his frustrations.

"If I propose a healthcare bill that is full of Republican ideas, in fact is very similar to the law that was passed by the current frontrunner or one of the top frontrunners - the other guy was supportive of many of the ideas as well - suddenly they (the Republicans on the Hill) become against it."

"I do think these dynamics are making it more difficult to get things done, " Obama added.

Asked by Walters whether he would dismiss the notion reflected in some polls that Amercans think he is a mediocre president,  Obama said on the program, "I want to be a really good two-term president."

He told Walters he believes the choices he has made on the issues have made America stronger.

And he believes he has put Americans, "In a better position in order to succeed over the long term. Short term folks are still struggling."

On the subject of the Iraq war, the president said our troops are coming home with their heads held high.

"I would describe our troops as having succeeded in the mission of giving to the Iraqis their country in a way that gives them a chance for a successful future," Obama added.

The president also told Walters he is not to keen on the personal lives of politicians and candidates for public office being presented as the main issue to talk about in a campaign.

Obama emphasized he doesn't believe in having someone's personal life poked and prodded and having that be the primary issue.

He believes there are enough differences between himself and the Republican presidential hopefuls and that he wants the election year to focus on what the issues are and where he and the GOP candidates stand on them.

The interview was taped December 15th and aired less than two weeks before Americans across the country meet in caucuses or head directly to voting booths, to start the process of deciding who will challenge Obama next November.

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