Obama Talks Up Obamacare, the NSA and Pope Francis on MSNBC’s Hardball

Appearing in front of a live audience at American University, the president also urged the students gathered there to be active participants in government

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In an hour-long interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews held at American University in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama defended the improved Healthcare.gov site, played down concerns about NSA surveillance, and lavished praise on Pope Francis, Joe Biden and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama acknowledged that the Healthcare.gov rollout had been less than stellar, but encouraged students to give enrollment another try. “I understand why people would be resistant to a website that’s not working right,” he said. But now that his team has worked on vastly improving the site, he wants everyone to “check it out for yourself.” He added, “for most people under 30, it’ll cost less than your cell phone bill.” Besides, getting health insurance isn’t just for you, it’s for the good of the country. “If you don’t have health insurance, and you get into an accident, the rest of us have to pay for it,” he said.

He also addressed the National Security Agency leaks, which were another major embarrassment this year. “The Edward Snowden disclosures have exposed some areas of legitimate concern,” he said, but noted, “some of it has been oversensationalized … The NSA does a very good job of not engaging in domestic surveillance. They’re not interested in reading your emails, they’re not interested in your text messages.”

Regarding the Congressional stalemate, Obama acknowledged that “the majority of the American people think the system’s broken.” However, he blamed Republicans for much of the problem. “You’ve got a faction of the Republican party that sees ‘compromise’ as a dirty word,” he said. “My argument is, let’s go ahead and have big arguments on the things we disagree about, but let’s go ahead and work on the things we do agree about, like immigration reform.”

His own approval ratings have dropped, he says, in part because, “When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention … If we do something that is perceived as a screw up, it’ll be on the Nightly News for a week.”

While much of the conversation focused on Obama and his leadership, the President didn’t just talk about himself. On Pope Francis, he said, “I think Pope Francis is showing himself to be a very thoughtful and soulful messenger of peace and justice.” He also gave shoutouts to Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Both, he said, would go down in history, as among the best ever in their roles.

Although the president did not answer any questions from the audience, he nonetheless appealed to the students gathered in the auditorium to participate in the government process.  “We still have 40% of eligible voters who opt out,” he lamented. He reminded viewers that, “Government is us. Government is not somebody else. we have the capacity to change it.”

When asked what makes a good president, Obama said “I would say that the most important qualities of any president I think has to do with a sense of connection with the American people. That’s what allows you then to have the second most important quality, which is persistence.”

Knowing that he made a difference in people’s lives is his greatest satisfaction in his job, he added: “The satisfaction you get when you’ve passed a law and somebody comes up to you and says, ‘you know what, my kid’s alive because you passed that healthcare bill.’ It’s pretty hard to get greater satisfaction than that.”

17 comments
ThomasHall
ThomasHall

I am sure that the snarky reich-wingers will weigh in, but at least the President from day on has focused on helping the working class that has suffered under successive GOP administration that shifted wealthy to the wealth. It is in that vein that Pres. Obama took on the risky business of a national healthcare insurance program which the GOP managed to block for over 60 years.

The GOP have pretty much put their entire efforts into fighting the ACA to the last and will be left with nothing if it proves even reasonably successful. People seem to forget the legion of abuses of the healthcare industry and insurance companies before the ACA raised the standards bar or that healthcare costs DOUBLED under Bush-Cheney alone.

The GOP use hot-button issues like abortion, gun control, or gay rights to excite and con their dull, working class, bigoted supporters to come out and vote based upon fear and anger not for the good of the country which becomes second to partisan political gain. 

The pro-rich, anti-poor, anti-worker GOP has historically NEVER represented the working class so expanding health insurance, gun control, consumer protection, reducing the vast disparity between rich and poor in America, raising the minimum wage, passing immigration reform or anti-workplace discrimination of gays, passing job creation and economic stimulus bills is never considered by the GOP who are still stuck in their failed GOP-Reagan-to-present "trickle-down economics." 

From 1979-2006-on, incomes for the top one percent rose by 275% while the Middle Class shrank by 25% and wages for the 99% stagnated. Even now, 90% of income goes to the top one per cent.

paulejb
paulejb

The class and dignity of Nelson Mandela vs. the artificial and cartoonish Barack Obama. It is no match.

paulejb
paulejb

Chris Matthew's legs must be paralyzed from all the tingles he must have been feeling.

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

Obama sits down on the state run media channel, MSNBC for a propaganda event with his #1 zealot, Chris Mathews, and basically vomited up his tried and true talking points to bunch of self-entitled bunch of zombies. His poll numbers are in the toilet because he a proven liar. Not just about his bait and switch with his wealth re-distribution scheme called Obamacare, but everything from The NSA to Fast and Furious. He talks about transparency as if he actually believes what he's saying. In fact, his administration is the most secretive since Nixon. Jeremy Scahill gave a great interview on Democracy Now about how Obama is trashing our Constitution going after journalists. Edward Snowden, please release everything you got on on The World's Most Deadliest President. Maybe he will be impeached for his trashing of the Constitution.

simonzee197340
simonzee197340

Obama would know nothing of taking on the weight of a nation through personal suffering and sacrifice like Mandela. This is the difference between a construct of the left and the real world. Obama and his pre-fab self are a creation of Hollwood along with his values as he admitted himself. When will the left just admitt that these constructs and creations to cater for the cult of personality and their politically correct religion are dangerous duds as they seek to establish their own flailing legacy. Martin Luther King and Mandela had soul because they were not tools and stooges of the left. The left just rallied around them and smothered them as trophies. A bit like like they "pretend" to speak for and represent the bests interests of blacks or Latinos or Hispanics. All trophies no action. Mandela and Martin Luther King belong to God not to illiberal leftist clowns in Hollwood and the media.

DeDePostlesGambart
DeDePostlesGambart

@ThomasHall Your long GOP bashing paragraph has no truth.  The USA is weak and not the big power of the world today. If anyone used the abortion, immigration, gun control etc..hot buttons, it was O himself. MSNBC, CNN and other stations are media in our king O's pocket.  Your assessment above does not represent the majority. The majority of America is waking up and realizing what a twisted corrupt admin we currently have. Hopefully the dems will loose the senate and impeachment can begin. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

And yet your idol Reagan did everything he could to support the Apartheid government that had him imprisoned. Curious to say the least.

lpmkg65
lpmkg65

@paulejb Are you for real?You don't give a damn about either one of them you never did. Sorry

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

Just like Sarah Palin gives you a little Boehner.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

More spam. How many time will you post the same garbage?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Martin Luther King and Mandela were also both committed to the same ideals as Obama and against the right wing lunacy preached by your idol Rupert Murdoch.

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

@DeDePostlesGambart @ThomasHall Your semi-literate post speaks for itself. Attend college, serve in the military, serve your God or country in any way? 

The GOP having tried to nullify the election of Pres. Obama in 2009 and 2012 by sabotaging the weak job market and economic growth which they caused have also hurt the country, to block an all-time record of 430+ bills, 82 blocked appointments or nearly half of all US blocked appointments, and unprecedented use of 60-vote, super majority filibusters, and always putting partisan politics ahead of the country. 

The GOP who already have to lie, cheat, and steal to win elections always talk about impeachment though they never name a single incident that rises to an impeachable offense. Try comparing the squeaky clean administration of Pres. Obama verses Nixon, Reagan GHW Bush and GW Bush all of which could have been impeached for illegal actions, lying under oath, obstruction of justice, etc.

DennisCopson
DennisCopson

@mantisdragon91 Yea, they do. Part of the culture I guess. Get together and preach and cry and wail. If they were only Catholic, there'd be a push to get them into Sainthood like right now. I'm just sayin'.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

They do? I could ask the same about conservatives attempting to main everything after the War Criminal Reagan