Obama w/ Letterman

President Obama was on "The Late Show with David Letterman" last night, and Dave asked him if he thinks some of the opposition to him and/or his policies is rooted in racism. Bearing in mind that if the president had said "yes" in any fashion, it would have run for the next six weeks as "Obama says opposition are all racists!!!1!eleventy!" he went for the savvy political side-step (with oblique dig at Joe "You lie!" Wilson)—and almost made it, except for where he tripped yet again over his insistence on pretending that Ronald Reagan wasn't bad for America, the irony being that if Reagan hadn't dismantled the Fairness Doctrine and turned the race-baiting Southern Strategy into the central Republican strategy, a savvy political side-step probably wouldn't be required and this segment might not even exist. Sigh.

Anyway, here it is, with full transcript below…
Letterman: I started noticing when they would have these, the town hall meetings, and there was vitriol and general animosity and anger and shouting and pushing and just unsavory behavior reported, and I don't know if it was generally speaking, but it would be reported here and there. And then, within the last week, a coupla days ago, Jimmy Carter started talking about this behavior, and speculating that, perhaps, this unease or poor decorum was because people—uh, was rooted in racism. Is he onto something there, or is that just something to talk about?

Obama: Well, first of all, I think it's important to realize that I was actually black before the election, so— [audience laughter and applause]

Letterman: Really?

Obama: This is true. This is true. So—

Letterman: And how long have you been a black man? [audience laughter]

Obama: [laughs] And so the American people, I think, gave me this extraordinary honor, and that tells you, I think, a lot about where the country's at. I actually think that what's happened is that whenever a president tries to bring about significant changes, particularly during times of economic unease, then there is a certain segment [makes "tiny" gesture with fingers] of the population that gets very riled up, and it happened—FDR was called a socialist and a communist, JFK, there were all kinds of names hurled at him, Ronald Reagan, when he came into office, he was moving in a different direction and people were sure that he was bringing the country down, and so, this is not untypical. You know, one of the things you sign up for in politics is folks yell at ya. [Letterman laughs.] But, but I think what has been missing from the conversation is that the overwhelming majority of people, Republican or Democrat, I think they just want to see some common sense; they want to see some honesty and integrity in Washington; I think they're turned off by the shouting and the yelling; and they expect more from their public elected officials. [audience applause]

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