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ObamaNerd: The Rolling Stone Interview

By ObamaNerd August 19, 2009


Rolling Stone flew me out to NYC earlier this month to join three other political observers to a fireside chat about Obama's first six months in office.  Paul Krugman, David Gergen and Michael Moore all joined me to  evaluate our totally historic and mind blowing President.

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The online pricktease version is here , but it's inferior to the actual longer discussion, which came out yesterday in newsstands.

But both versions are lacking because they cut all of my comments. There were four leading political observers sitting down to assess his historic presidency.  Not three!  New York editors! Like 3 is some magic number?  Oh really? How often do you REALLY see a three-legged stool?  Never.  They all have four legs.  There were actually four Stooges, not three.  Remember Shemp?  Shemp always got the shaft and he was by far the best Stooge.  No matter.  No one reads Rolling Stone .  They haven't been relevant since Britney Spears' half naked cover anyway. (The Beatles are on the cover of the upcoming September 3 issue. The Beatles? Kids you not: "Why the Beatles Broke Up. The Inside Story.")

Brilliance cannot be contained.  And luckily, I have this political blog where I have the opportunity to set the record straight.  I will re-construct, to the best of my ability, the painstaking awesome-ness that was my contribution to the roundtable.

First off, fact check #1. Michael Moore wasn't with us.  He Skype'd that shit in. Here's a snippet of the interview (Question 5). The whole discussion is posted below the fold.

Q5:  Let's shift gears to foreign policy. Given the state of the economy, it's easy to forget that we're in the middle of two wars that Obama inherited.  Start with Iraq: What do you think of his handling of the conflict so far?

Krugman: Iraq isn't the problem, it's Afghanistan.  A more justified war, but beginning to look like a quagmire. But I am just an economist, so what do I know about quagmires?


Moore: Um, Afghanistan didn't invade us, so it's not justified. But I feel sorry for Obama. He inherited this war.  God, I wish Bush was still around so I could blame him for more stuff.


Gergen: I think Obama has been right about both wars.  Time will tell if it becomes Vietnam or he finishes the job Bush should have.


ObamaNerd: I'd like to pass on this question.  Foreign affairs makes my supermodel hurt.





Q1: Overall, how would you rate Obama's first 6 months in office?

Gergen:  Economy didn't go off cliff, public mood is better and there's been culture change. But he's fallen short of his own expectations and the public's.


Krugman: Obama should have listened to me and done the stimulus package at $1.3 trillion instead of $800 billion.  People will rate him a failure for it falling short on what I think is needed to fix things.


Moore: Did you hear O's speech in Cairo?  Or my speech at the Academy Awards?  They are the same in their brilliance.


ObamaNerd: What does someone gotta do to get some Cristal up in this bitch?  I thought when a black family would move into the White House, we'd all be poppin' Cristal and wearing gold grills in our mouths.  WTF!



Q2: What have you been impressed by so far? Has any one move he's made stood out for you?

Gergen:  I have been impressed with his commitment to social change, but I won't really tell you what that means specifically.


Krugman: Even though I bitch about Obama, I am fairly impressed by everything. When you like, call the White House, the people working there aren't total idiots like the last administration.  I dig that.  I can use words with three or more syllables.


Moore: Did I mention that Cairo speech already?  Oh and he fired the head of GM. That gave me a hard on because I hate them.


ObamaNerd:  Um, how about that he has prevented us from entering Great Depression Part 2?  That's fairly significant and stands out a bit.



Q3:  Is there any one move Obama has made that you've been most disappointed?

Gergen:  Climate change. France thinks it's a joke and so do I.


Krugman: Not surprisingly, I think his economic policy has been disappointing. Specifically, the aid to state governments getting slashed is a real buzzkill.


Moore: (insert funny Entourage joke here about Rahm Emanuel's brother).  My big disappointment is the big flacid penis called the Democratic Party.  With supermajorities, they piss and squander their opportunity to get anything real done.


ObamaNerd: Dovetailing off of Michael's point a bit, because he's largely incoherent, I would say this continual cowtowing to Republicans and trying to create this image of bi-partisanship.  Just pull the trigger already.



Q4:  You've raised the question of whether Obama is compromising too much on his larger, aspirational agenda. Show he draw a line in the sand (re: public option)?

Gergen:  I am against the public option, but won't say that outright. I think the "bigger question" is how to get universal coverage while keeping costs down.


Krugman: Surprisingly, I don't think a public option is required.  Have you fainted yet?  If not, read on.  If you get to universality first, you can tackle cost containment another day. But there better be serious reforms if you are going to split up health care reform.


Moore: The public option is the minimum we need. Insurance companies are fucking the American people and not in a good way.


ObamaNerd: We need a public option. Everyone needs to stop acting like we are still in 1994 America.  Insurance rates have more than doubled since then, insurance companies have become greedier and meaner in their coverage and more people are becoming uninsured, sicker and broke.  If Medicare is good enough for seniors, a public option is good enough for an uninsured working mom of four.  Period.  Next question.



At this point, Gergen demands to be heard again and we all spin off about how Obama can't push too hard, that the American public thinks this is happening too fast and governments role is too big.  I think Gergen has never been without insurance or knows anyone who is diabetic, aging or has a pre-existing condition.  That's what I fucking think.

Q5:  Let's shift gears to foreign policy. Given the state of the economy, it's easy to forget that we're in the middle of two wars that Obama inherited.  Start with Iraq: What do you think of his handling of the conflict so far?

Krugman: Iraq isn't the problem, it's Afghanistan.  A more justified war, but beginning to look like a quagmire. But I am just an economist, so what do I know about quagmires?


Moore: Um, Afghanistan didn't invade us, so it's not justified. But I feel sorry for Obama. He inherited this war.  God, I wish Bush was still around so I could blame him for more stuff.


Gergen: I think Obama has been right about both wars.  Time will tell if it becomes Vietnam or he finishes the job Bush should have.


ObamaNerd: I'd like to pass on this question.  Foreign affairs makes my supermodel hurt.



Q6:  What do you think about Guantanamo and military tribunals?  Too much compromise?  Too much like Bush?

Krugman: It's a disappointment but not a motivating factor for me.  I am a Pulitzer Prize winning economist.


Moore: I don't think Obama is going to hold people indefinitely and I don't think there has been one military tribunal to date. Obama does this stuff to head fake his opposition.


Gergen: I am glad Guantanamo is closing, but just because something resembles a Bush policy doesn't make it wrong in all cases.


ObamaNerd:  I think Michigan is a great win/win for a new Guantanamo.  Just make sure that we libs are on our game...because that anti-Muslim baiting is sure to rear its head.



Q7:  Is Obama tough enough to see his vision through?

Krugman: I am worried that he isn't.  He rallies people around a theme, not leads people to a conclusion.


Moore: I think I might be in love with Barack.  Did someone give me some Kool-Aid when I wasn't looking?  He has a quiet strength and not that cowboy machismo we say with Bush.


Gergen: He is breaking the paralysis in Washington, but some of us who have been around since the abacus wonder if it's going to be enough to enact big change.


ObamaNerd:  I agree in part with Michael.  I think our version of "tough" has been distorted for the last 8 years under Bush.  I think it takes huge balls to do your first televised press avail on Muslim TV.  I think it takes enormous balls to admit to Iran that we know we overthrew their government in the 50s.  I think it also takes big balls to say to angry protestors: It's ok...you have a right to be afraid and debate this stuff.  Bush would have marginalized folks who didn't agree with him and his neocon thinktankers.



Q8:  Who is an impressive Obama appointment and who is disappointing?

Krugman: Impressed: budget director Peter Orszag. Disappointing: bank blowjober Tim Geithner.


Moore: Dr. Sanjay Gupta was a weird first choice for surgeon general.  But I like Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.  Roll her out more.


Gergen: The appointment process is more disappointing than any one appointment.  And yes, I am channeling Hillary Clinton.


ObamaNerd:  Disappointing: I agree with Tim Geithner.  Impressive:  Um, hello Hillary Fucking Clinton.  Madame Balls of Steel!  Love you, Hils!



Final Q9:  If you were to give Obama a grade, what grade would you give him?

Krugman: B/B+.  But it's mostly incomplete because he hasn't turned in his paper on health care or climate change.


Moore: An "A,"  so long as he's head faking Republicans.  If he's cowtowing, then he gets a C-.


Gergen: Even though I will go on CNN and regurgitate talking points that will totally negate this, I give him an A-/B+.


ObamaNerd:  A+.  Everything that isn't going right is George Bush's fault still.



Overall, I owned this enlightening conversation. High fives all around.  I would say my overall sense is that caution is Obama's biggest enemy.  Everyone agrees with me.  Obama has big majorities in both chambers of Congress and the only thing that will derail his success is coming in with legislation that's already been compromised before it hits the Senate or House.  Too much pandering will cause a 2000 election because the base of support that got you elected will be disillusioned. Too much overstep could cause a 1994 when independents freaked out because Bill and Hillary were too scary.  So...we need something like a 1998, sans blue dress and Linda Tripp:  A Republican party focused on the wrong shit, seen as obstructionists and Democrats the party that's continuing to work for the people.
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