After everyone from Jesse Jackson, to the terrified mainstream media to prominent Congressional Democrats have called upon Obama to issue a blanket pardon for Hillary Clinton, he finally admitted that it's not possible to pardon someone who hasn't yet stood trial for a crime. And while Obama was referencing a potential pardon of Edward Snowden with his comments, one could assume that the law should be applied the same way for all U.S. citizens.
I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something that I would comment on at this point. I think that Mr. Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community. If everybody took the approach that I make my own decisions about these issues, then it would be very hard to have an organized government or any kind of national security system.
In his last international interview with ARD and DER SPIEGEL in Germany, Obama went on to highlight the fine line between protecting the privacy of citizens and gathering intelligence needed to protect the American homeland against potential terrorist attacks. Ironically, Obama didn't mention the potential pitfalls associated with allowing a massive influx of immigrants from nations known to harbor terrorists without the ability to vet those immigrants.
At the point at which Mr. Snowden wants to present himself before the legal authorities and make his arguments or have his lawyers make his arguments, then I think those issues come into play. Until that time, what I've tried to suggest -- both to the American people, but also to the world -- is that we do have to balance this issue of privacy and security. Those who pretend that there's no balance that has to be struck and think we can take a 100-percent absolutist approach to protecting privacy don't recognize that governments are going to be under an enormous burden to prevent the kinds of terrorist acts that not only harm individuals, but also can distort our society and our politics in very dangerous ways.
And those who think that security is the only thing and don't care about privacy also have it wrong.
My experience is that our intelligence officials try to do the right thing, but even with good intentions, sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they can be overzealous. Our lives are now in a telephone, all our data, all our finances, all our personal information, and so it's proper that we have some constraints on that. But it's not going to be 100 percent. If it is 100 percent, then we're not going to be able to protect ourselves and our societies from some people who are trying to hurt us.
Commenting on the election, Obama refused to acknowledge that his failed policies helped facilitate Trump's victory, even though skyrocketing Obamacare premiums almost certainly played a role, and instead referenced the typical democrat narrative that racist white folks who were fearful of the "changing face of the American population" were to blame.
I think what is true is that there's been an underlying division in the United States. Some of it has to do with the fact that economic growth and recovery tends to be stronger in the cities and in urban areas. In some rural areas, particularly those that were reliant on manufacturing, there has been weaker growth, stagnation, people feeling as if their children won't do as well as they will.
There are cultural, social and demographic issues that came into play. They're not that different from some of the issues that Europe faces with immigration, the changing face of the American population. I think some reacted there, and Trump was able to tap into some of those anxieties.
American politics is always somewhat fluid. In this age of social media, it means that voters can swing back and forth. I mean, there were probably millions of voters who voted for me and supported me and this time also voted for Donald Trump, and it just indicates that some of this is less ideological and more just an impulse towards some sort of change.
One of the more amusing segments of the interview came when Obama, perhaps one of the most divisive presidents in American history, decided to lecture president-elect Trump on his "divisive" and "controversial rhetoric."
And the question now, going forward, is whether the president-elect is able to move on those elements of his agenda that I think can garner broad support, like rebuilding our infrastructure. And if he can lessen some of the more controversial rhetoric that could divide the country more. That's going to be the test for him in the years to come.
We just have to ask, would comments like the one below by Obama be considered "divisive" and/or "controversial?"
September 2014 Comments at the Congressional Black Caucus Awards Dinner - “Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black, or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness. We know that, statistically, in everything from enforcing drug policy to applying the death penalty to pulling people over, there are significant racial disparities.”
If that wasn't enough, Obama also attempted to delegitimize Trump's election by pointing out that only 27% of the American population voted for him. Yes, and Obama's victory in 2012 with 28.6% of the population was WAY more decisive...great point.
The problem, though, is that young people are less likely to vote than older people. What results is a situation in which sometimes the elections don't fully reflect the views of the American population. Essentially, the president-elect was supported by about 27 percent of the American population. One of our challenges, historically, is that we have very low voting rates, even during presidential elections.
Finally, when asked about the very real possibility that Trump will dismantle key components of his legacy, Obama reminded us all of the time that he saved the entire world from financial ruin back in 2009.
First and foremost, it's important to remember that, from my perspective at least, my most important legacy was making sure that the world didn't go into a Great Depression. Keep in mind that, when I came in, we had had a crisis that was the worst we've seen since the 1930s, and working with people like Chancellor Merkel, working with the G-20 and other institutions internationally, we were able to stabilize the financial system, stabilize the US economy and return to growth.
We guess that's true if you ignore the inconvenient fact that loose monetary policies implemented by the Fed single-highhandedly caused the asset bubbles around the world that Obama points to as signs of a "recovery." Guess we should ignore these charts: