President Obama At Press Conference: In Charge, But Not In Control

After the first 100 days of his second term, President Obama just can't stop talking about the limits of his own power.

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Charles Dharapak / AP

President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.

After the first 100 days of his second term, President Obama just can’t stop talking about the limits of his own power.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, he said he wanted a smooth roll out for ObamaCare, but then added, “even if we do everything perfectly, there’ll still be, you know, glitches and bumps.” He reaffirmed his desire to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but said “Congress determined that they would not let us close it.” He argued for an end to the sequester, only to add that he doesn’t have enough sway with Congress to make it happen. “You seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities, and that my job is to somehow get them to behave,” he said to one reporter. “That’s their job!”

In the White House briefing room, the President stayed largely on defense, ticking through the topics offered to him by reporters by explaining all that he could not do. Asked if he still had “the juice” to get the rest of his agenda through Congress, Obama smiled. “Maybe I should just pack up and go home, golly,” he responded from the White House podium before paraphrasing a quote from Mark Twain. “Rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point.”

The first 100 days have not exactly gone according to plan: Gun control measures in which he invested his political capital died weeks ago, immigration reform faces a perilous path in the House of Representatives, budget and deficit reduction talks are mired in slow moving back room negotiations, and the sequester remains in place with a few targeted exceptions. As nearly every legislative priority has stalled, his approval rating has fallen below 50 percent.

More often than not, he said the problem is Congress, with the GOP-controlled House and the filibuster-loving Senate Republicans, repeating a refrain that has long been a part of his public comments. “I think it comes to no surprise, not even to the American people, but even members of Congress themselves (find) that right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill,” Obama said.

But even on matters of national security, he resisted questions that implied he should have taken more decisive action. On Syria, he is still waiting for clarity on the circumstances surrounding the use of chemical weapons. “We don’t have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened,” Obama said, blaming incomplete intelligence and warning that he’s trying to avoid another Iraq. “And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I’ve gotta make sure I’ve got the facts. That’s what the American people would expect.”

(PHOTOS: Chaos and Killing in Syria: Photos of a Slow-Motion Civil War)

On the Boston bombing, he said that ongoing investigations would help clarify whether more should have been done before the attacks, but that early signs suggested that there was little that he or his government could have done to prevented the attacks. “What I can say is that based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties,” he said. “Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing. But this is hard stuff.”

Then there’s the prison in Guantanamo Bay, which Obama pledged to close as his first executive order four years ago. It is a “recruitment tool for extremists,” Obama agreed. Hunger strikes have led US troops to force-feed 21 inmates. “I’m gonna go back at this,” Obama said. But he did not predict speedy victory.

(PHOTOS: Inside Guantanamo)

On immigration, he made it clear that he was happy to take a backseat to the Senate and House, which are drafting their own bills. “There are elements of it that I would change,” he said of the Senate proposal, “but I do think that it meets the basic criteria that I laid out from the start.” As for the House proposal, he said he is waiting to judge. “I think we’ve gotta be open-minded in seeing what they come up with,” he said. Like so many other issues, the bill to fix the nation’s immigration system was on his radar, though not within his control.

296 comments
firozekabeer
firozekabeer

Sadly, he is in charge but not in control. His failure to close Guantanamo shows how powerless the president of the most powerful country. It again proved that you can not change any thing unless you change the system. He is the innocent victim of the system; even NRA is more powerful than him, not to mention his incapacity to stop on going genocide in Syria.

nmsoxfan1
nmsoxfan1

drudown Obamacare "helps prevent Bankruptcy for the Nation"?  The opposite is true.  It's a job killer and cost over a trillion dollars over the next decade.  Bush "conned" no one.  Every intelligence agency in the world thought Saddam had WMD; they may have moved to Syria.  Even w/o WMD the war was a success.  Saddam is gone; Iraq is a democracy.  Obama is supposedly concerned about chem weapons in Syria, but his "red line" is a joke -- one of his "empty threats." You are deluded or a fool.

LukyamuziKabakasman
LukyamuziKabakasman

The best America could ever get in these times. If only they knew the downward spiral they were in and which he has tried to stall and change course.

LukyamuziKabakasman
LukyamuziKabakasman

To some people, faulting Obama has become a passtime. U have to pity people who are going thru 8 years feeling like they have no President

fitty_three
fitty_three

The right is insane.  They want both ends of this stick.

On one hand, you have some that call Obama "incompetent" because the Constititution prevents him from going around GOP obstructionism.

Witless the GOP commenter below.

On the other, when he is allowed by the Constitution to get around them, they promptly scream "Totalinarian!", "Hitler", and claim he's a dictator.

Witness Rand Paul.

So which came first, goopers?  Your crazy or your ideology?

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@firozekabeerHis failure to close Guantanamo should open your eyes to the reality of the situation, It is easy for you to write here moaning, and whining about the terrible consequences for the poor Muslims, innocent as they are suffering in Guantanamo, without free medical treatment, construction of a million dollar football field, food furnished to their wishes, why they can even spit abuse their guards without any serious consequences. Obama must have realized the complications if he closes the base with the Muslim terrorists scatter all over and innocent Americans will suffer the consequences. They are the ones in charge, accessible to all the information that can happen if the base is closed.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@LukyamuziKabakasman  

TARP I and II kept the economy from collapsing. People seem to forget that.

Even Bush gets credit for TARP I, because even though the crash was the GOP's alone, he at least bowed to pressure from the business community and signed TARP I, giving half of it to Obama to administer.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@LukyamuziKabakasman Faulting Obama has become a passtime but faulting and blaming Bush has been that clown`s career for the past five years now to hide his incompetence

fitty_three
fitty_three

@LauraH10  

I'm also wondering why you read "The Daily Rash" and actually take it as truth.

Maybe not too much critical thinking?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@LauraH10 

Not sure if you're being serious or not (since some of the below comments are so utterly insane) but that is a joke article.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@fitty_three If you could only count beyond fifty three, you would be a genius. But keep trying, you might make it yet.

nmsoxfan1
nmsoxfan1

@fitty_three Obama regularly ignores the Constitution. It is the Dem-controlled Senate, not the House, that prevents his bills from even being voted on often because Reid wants to protect Red State Dems from having to vote.  The Senate did vote on his budget last year and defeated it 99-0.  In Obama's first two years he super-majority Dems in both houses.  All he did was waste $1 trillion of "stimulus" and force Obamacare thru, a job-killer.  It was because of Obamacare that the House went GOP in 2010.  He is a tyrant; he's a corrupt big-city mayor in the WH-his only concern is "help your friends, destroy your enemies."  He essentially murdered the Benghazi four just for his political gain. 

manapp99
manapp99

@fitty_three So you think that Obama is the first president to have opposition in congress? He is just the first that is impotent in handling DC politics. Many tried to warn that a one term Senator was not qualified to run the country and now we see that they were right. 

nmsoxfan1
nmsoxfan1

@fitty_three @LukyamuziKabakasman GOP had nothing to do w/ the crash.  You have no clue as to financial matters.  Barney Frank insisted that banks make home loans to people that clearly could not possibly make the payments.  The usual Lib fantasy land "managed economy."  Obama did nothing but waste $1 trillion in so-called stimulus money that went to pub employee unions, green energy (which has gone bankrupt) and his cronies.  Then he pushed Obamacare thru, which is a job-killer and adds $1 trillion to the deficit.  Then he's added more regs that are crushing small business that is the primary source for new jobs.  Obama hates Western Democracy because of its colonist past and he's trying to destroy it.  He killed bin Laden to remove a competitor.

bobcn
bobcn

@fitty_three @LauraH10

"I'm also wondering why you read "The Daily Rash" and actually take it as truth."

Maybe because it sounds saner than what Laura sees on infowars and breitbart.

drudown
drudown

@manapp99 @fitty_three 

Not qualified to run the country?

The only thing you GOP lackeys can do in light of results is (1) proffer conclusory opinions with no reason or analysis to support it and/or (2) dispense petty, snarky barbs. 

Sad, even.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@manapp99 @fitty_three I would challenge you to find any time in our recent history where the parties have been so polarized or where the Filibuster has been used on such a level as it has been in the last 5-6 years.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@manapp99 @fitty_three 

Why don't you look at actual data?

It's simple. Record level of filibuster under Obama - unlike pretty much any other president. Why is that? Because of his 'incompetence'?

fitty_three
fitty_three

@manapp99

Nope.  Apparently you weren't here during those years.  Compromise?

A dirty word in the GOP playbook.  We've seen evidence of it everywhere, and from their own mouths.

Thanks, but try again.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@manapp99 @mantisdragon91 @fitty_three Out of curiosity since you say the level of polarization hasn't changed, how do you think Regan's actual record(and not the myth created of him) would have stood up if he were to run for office as a Republican today? Think he'd ever make it out of the primaries?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@manapp99 @fitty_three

The GOP compromised just this year when they allowed for taxes to increase on the top earners.

Is that what we're calling having the tax increases scaled up to an even slimmer minority of the top 1% than Obama intended?  A move that they were forced into?

fitty_three
fitty_three

@manapp99

My post on that was above.

I had to leave to give some medical care to my wire, which incidentally, is part of the Obamacare Home Health Care program - and - part of an effort to save $700,000 so far in her medical expenses!

Doesn't that just irk you that Obamacare actually works?

manapp99
manapp99

@fitty_three @manapp99 The GOP compromised just this year when they allowed for taxes to increase on the top earners. Forgot that? 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@manapp99

We have a problem with the degree of polarization.

The GOP has clearly stated they will not compromise.

manapp99
manapp99

@mantisdragon91 @manapp99 @fitty_three The other misconception about the filibuster issues is the fact that Harry Reid loads the legislative tree and has refused to allow GOP amendments to come to the floor. That is a large reason for the increased filibuster as the GOP is responding to the Democrat tricks with tricks of their own. Perhaps you are not comfortable with the political hardball in DC but that is the way it is done now and has always been done. Obama was just not experienced enough to know how to win. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@ReneDemonteverde @manapp99 @MrObvious @fitty_three

Obama started by saying elections have consequences and rammed it down the GOP collective throats. That started it.

Were you asleep throughout the 2008 election?  Obama was called a terrorist and subject to a massive effort to de-legitimize his first term before he was even sworn in.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@ReneDemonteverde

I see, so he's just like I said, either a dictator or incompetant.

Thanks for proving the point in my lead comment!

manapp99
manapp99

@fitty_three @manapp99 Right....That is why Tip O'Neill lied about giving Reagan 3 dollars in cuts for every one dollar in tax increases. Some compromise. Again you seem to not know how politics works in DC. It is a game and there are rules and ways around the rules. Like Obama and the recess appointments. Games and ways around. Of course he tried to fudge too much in his inexperience and the court struck him down. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@manapp99

The Dems during the Reagan years compromised.  

There were many bills that came out of that legislature that both Reagan and Dems signed off on, otherwise, they would never have passed.

Duh.

manapp99
manapp99

@MrObvious @manapp99 @fitty_three The record that the GOP broke was set by the Dems when W was President. It is how the game of politics is played and is not new. You are perhaps just now following politics but I remember well the obstructionist Democratic congresses that Reagan had to deal with. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

We like facts here, bozo.

We're not into fantasies.

Go back to FOX.  Maybe you can boast about how tough you were!

fitty_three
fitty_three

@ReneDemonteverde

That was an empty comment, bozo.

I'm interested in why you don't seem to remember that the entire Bush tax cut would have sunset had Obama not given them a face saving out.

You missed ALL the news, I guess.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@fitty_three @manapp99 Allow to save face. There you go again. Have you even tried negotiating once in your life and tell your opponent that you are negotiating so he could save face ? Try counting beyond fifty three and maybe you will learn more.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@manapp99 @bobcn @ReneDemonteverde @fitty_three What was misguided about the Contra Hearings? Did we not illegally sell arms to Iran to support death squads in Nicaragua? And I would argue that if either Clinton or Reagan would have had to deal with the same levels of zealots as are currently inhabiting the ranks of the Tea Party where anyone who advocates compromise is shouted down as a RINO, they would not have fared well either.

bobcn
bobcn

@manapp99 @fitty_three @ReneDemonteverde 

If the gop hadn't compromised the Bush tax cuts would have expired.  They had no choice (and I think Obama accepted a bad deal).

BTW - please remind us all again why Bush and a republican house and a republican senate chose to make the Bush tax cuts temporary (hint: they had to).  Do you remember why?

bobcn
bobcn

@manapp99 @bobcn @ReneDemonteverde @fitty_three

Are you actually defending Iran/Contra?  Which part of it was your favorite -- illegally selling weapons to Ayatollah Khomeini or illegally supporting right-wing Nicaraguan death squads?  People went to jail for Iran/Contra.

Since you seem to be sympathetic to Reagan's behavior during Iran/Contra, how would you react if Obama did the same thing?  Iran/Contra was all about getting money to support the Contras that the congress refused to appropriate.  Congress is blocking the money to close Guantanamo.  Would you say that Obama has a right to sell arms to Iran to get the money he needs to close Gitmo?

fitty_three
fitty_three

@manapp99

You're obfuscating.

They were forced into it because they didn't want to look like the bad guy in the shutdown debate.

And, Obama offered them compromises to allow the GOP to save face! 

 It's really bothersome to see people trying to rewrite history so soon. Stop it.

manapp99
manapp99

@fitty_three @ReneDemonteverde The GOP compromised with Obama on taxes just a few short months ago when they allowed the rates to go up for the top 1%. That wasn't compromise? 

manapp99
manapp99

@bobcn @ReneDemonteverde @fitty_three @manapp99 Sure that is why he launched the corrosive and misguided Iran/Contra hearings right? All buddy buddy but out to bring him down. Fact is that Reagan was known as Teflon Ron because the Dems were thwarted in trying to bring him down. Reagan was just a superior political operator to Obama. It is hard for the left to accept that fact. Even Clinton knew how to operate with and opposition congress. Obama is unique in his inability to operate in the DC political environment that others have been successful in. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@ReneDemonteverde

Let me ask you a rhetorical qeustion:

What is the GOP stance on taxes? 

What did the GOP say about compromise?

bobcn
bobcn

@ReneDemonteverde @fitty_three @manapp99

"Reagan got along with o Neal"

Not an apt comparison.  Reagan had Democrats to deal with -- not a bunch of tea party jihadists.  O'Neal was a reasonable politician who was willing to negotiate and compromise for the good of the country. There was no 'filibuster everything' rule in the Senate, and no 'Hastert rule' in the house.  The legislature operated like a responsible governing body.

The current crop of gopers have openly made it their policy to not deal with Obama on anything, country be damned.  They've filibustered their own proposals when Obama has said he agreed with them.  In the debt ceiling crisis that they manufactured, they made it clear that they were willing to damage the country if they didn't get their way.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@fitty_three @manapp99 Reagan got along with o Neal. Stop being sucker for Obama. And quit following the Kardashians. Try Fox News instead. It will broaden your mind.