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Nine Most Likely Words From Congress
"I'm from the government, and I help rich people."

Nine Most Likely Words From Congress

Obama tests out a side job on ‘The Colbert Report’

Posted on December 9th, 2014 by Daryl

President Obama told Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert that he loves the job of being president. He also said he doesn’t get wrapped up in his status because his family teases him “mercilessly.” (AP)

“The Colbert Report” briefly got a new host — President Obama.

Obama appeared on the comedy show Monday night, talking about everything from health care reform to the economy, the Keystone XL pipeline and briefly, took on the new gig. Because Colbert has “been taking a lot of shots at my job,” so the president said he would “take a shot” at the host’s.

“I, Stephen Colbert, have never cared for our president,” Obama, pretending to be Colbert and sitting at his desk, said. “The guy’s so arrogant, I bet he talks about himself in the third person.”

Obama said he “felt more powerful behind” Colbert’s desk. But, “I love the job,” Obama said of his own.

A buoyant Obama also had a confession: Despite being president, he still leaves his socks on the floor. How does that go over at home? “Not well,” Obama said. And no one there treats him like president, he said.

“When I go home, Michelle, Malia, Sasha give me a hard time,” he said. “There are no trumpets and they tease me mercilessly for my big ears or my stodgy suits.”

Colbert had a question for the president: Is he still the leader of the free world after the midterm elections?

“Because the Republicans are quite surprised that you’re doing anything at all,” Colbert said.

“Look, the election didn’t go as I would have liked,” Obama said. “A correction there. I had a little thought bubble.”

Obama said he’s committed to working, with Congress when possible, to help working families and to make college affordable. He sidestepped a question about the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama said he thinks young people — and being that the show was taped at George Washington University in Washington there were plenty in the audience — didn’t vote in the midterm elections because “they felt discouraged about what was happening in Washington.”

Obama touted the Affordable Care Act and the increased numbers of people signing up. Now, he said, the only way for it to be repealed is for Congress to pass a bill to do so, which, posing as Colbert, said would require the president’s veto.

“And if I know that guy, he’s willing to use it,” Obama said.

While interviewing the president, Colbert talked about the improving economy and asked Obama: “Why didn’t you fix the economy before the election?”

Obama said the economy has been on a “pretty good run,” citing nearly five years of private sector job growth.

“You’ve employed a lot of people,” Colbert said. “Mostly as secretary of defense.”

“Well, that boosted our numbers a bit,” Obama said.

Colbert did ask Obama what the president deemed said was, for the “first time,” a “sensible question” from the comedian. While campaigning in 2008, Obama said that too much power rested in the presidency. Now Obama is issuing executive actions. So do presidents take office and think, “I might be the only one I trust with this much power, so I’ll hold onto it?”

Obama said presidents have the tendency to want to get things done, especially when government is gridlocked. He said he uses the White House office of legal counsel to independently advise him on what he can and can’t do, but he would prefer to work with Congress.

Colbert said he wasn’t going to ask Obama for the nuclear launch codes — but requested a hint.

“Can you tell me if there’s a 5 in there?” Colbert asked.

“No,” Obama deadpanned.

President Obama sat down with Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert in Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University on Monday. (AP)

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.

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The Fix: Why Obama will never please his critics on race

Posted on December 8th, 2014 by Daryl

AP photo.

A new Bloomberg Politics poll shows that many Americans, black and white, feel race relations have gotten worse under the country’s first black president. It’s a finding that comes amid a string of racially charged incidents involving unarmed black men and white police officers.

And it’s not just that a majority, 53 percent, thinks things have gotten worse; only 9 percent think things have gotten better.

Six years ago, if someone was asked how President Obama would shape race relations, undoubtedly the themes of hope and change would have come up. Few would have said race relations (a really vague concept, by the way), would get worse under Obama. But here we are.

What’s behind these numbers? Well, they’re likely a bit skewed because they come at such a fraught time, but they do reflect a sentiment captured in other polls and the kind of head-shaking going on in many households over what’s playing out in the news media.

But there are also other, more constant dynamics at play:

Obama, because he is black, faces much higher expectations among blacks and whites on race than your average president. This is for different reasons, but those expectations are both, in large part, about Obama being black.

With race, it has often been this way. African American civil rights leaders, elected officials and activists have seen it as their duty to be out-front in pushing the country forward on race relations, steadily re-shaping American society bit by bit. And for many African Americans, Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency came with not only symbolic expectations but also substantive ones.

For many whites, though, Obama’s election in and of itself operated as a kind of symbolic absolution — its own evidence of racial progress without many strings attached. That’s the whole post-race fantasy at work.

The political dividing line finds liberals often wanting him to say and do more about race/racism, with conservatives insisting that he says too much. The two sides paint Obama’s words as either being a healing balm or utterly corrosive. Either way, there is bipartisan and cross-racial disappointment over expectations not met.

recent story by my colleague, Vanessa Williams, compares Obama’s approach to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s and lays out those expectations:

“People want the president to be out front the same way he did with immigration, gay rights and women’s rights. They want him to make this an American issue,” said Howard University student body President Leighton Watson, who met with Obama. “The consensus from everyone — the students and the mayors — was that we wanted the president to be more out in front in a visual and audible way. We don’t question his commitment. We just want him to continue it in a way people can feel.”

Being “out front” on race, though, is much trickier — partly because what put Obama out front on immigration and women’s rights (he was actually more of a laggard on gay rights) were actual pieces of legislation and policy proposals that had broad support among congressional Democrats. There isn’t a clear equivalent for black America — though Obama has pushed for several changes in the criminal justice system, as well as unveiling the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which comes with private money and public support.

But the idea of doing something in a “way people can feel” speaks both to policy and emotion.

His critics want Obama to drop the Mr. Spock-like approach to race and show that he feels their pain and validates their experiences of race and racism. But, asking this president to emote on almost anything has often left his supporters wanting. It’s no different on race.

And finally, the main reason these numbers are so bad: Dealing with race is just hard. Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder famously talked about America as a “nation of cowards.” And Obama lamented that conversations about race relations only come up around some big, divisive incident.

Many Americans really do have willful amnesia when it comes to race. That explains why Obama and de Blasio keep talking about broader perceptions of African Americans that go back centuries and still resonate today. Their discussions of race, which delight many liberals and rankle many conservatives, try to make this point: It’s not that race is the elephant in the room, it’s the very room itself.

Nia-Malika Henderson is a political reporter for The Fix.

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