Obama Responds: What Ever Happened to Hope and Change?

One way to celebrate a redesign is to unleash an interview with President Obama featuring a wide range of answers from Congress to football to guns, which is exactly how The New Republic introduced the world to their new look. 

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One way to celebrate a redesign is to unleash an interview with President Obama featuring a wide range of answers from Congress to football to guns, which is exactly how The New Republic introduced the world to their new look.

We were initially skeptical of the old magazine's new clothes when they unveiled a new cover design, but we must admit their new site looks kind of nice and different. And the President doesn't look so bad himself. Editor Franklin Foer and new owner Chris Hughes (a former Obama staffer) sat down with Obama this month to talk about, well, a lot of things (about what you would expect from a former staffer) — and they got a lot of half-answers. They asked the President directly about criticisms that he did not bring "hope and change" to Washington, and that instead things are either the same or worse, depending on which critic you ask. The President tells them he doesn't think he's failed at bringing change to the capital — party politics are certainly making it hard for politicians to accomplish anything meaningful, but he sees some hope in the court of public opinion:

I think the issue is that we have these institutional barriers that prevent what the American people want from happening. Some of them are internal to Congress, like the filibuster in the Senate. Some of them have to do with our media and what gets attention. Nobody gets on TV saying, "I agree with my colleague from the other party." People get on TV for calling each other names and saying the most outlandish things.

Even on issues like the response to Hurricane Sandy, Chris Christie was getting hammered by certain members of his own party and media outlets for cooperating with me to respond to his constituents. That gives you an indication of how difficult I think the political environment has become for a lot of these folks. And I think what will change that is politicians seeing more upside to cooperation than downside, and right now that isn't the case. Public opinion is going to be what changes that.

On the weekend before the Super Bowl and the President's expected pre-game interview with CBS, he tells Foer and Hughes that he's not so sure he would let his children play football if they were interested:

I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football.

The President's concerns lay in how violent the game is getting, and the problem the game is having with concussions. Obama said he wrestles with himself to justify his enjoyment of the game in the face of overwhelming evidence that it's too violent and concussions are significantly impacting players' lives after they retire.

Sure enough, two stories came out Sunday morning that support his concerns. First, Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said the game is probably heading towards a player dying on the field because of how big and fast and violent the game is, despite the NFL saying they want to curb serious injuries. And ESPN's Adam Shefter reports a Washington Redskins offensive tackle passed two concussion tests after being tazed by police and hit in the head with a champagne bottle.

The other Obama quote from the TNR interview that's getting some attention Sunday, when he will also appear alongside Hillary Clinton on Meet the Press, is the President's defense of the Second Amendment. He said he takes guests skeet shooting at Camp David "all the time." But the President contends that it's not hunting traditions he's concerned with legislating. It's reconciling those traditions with gun situations in major metropolitan cities:

Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas. And if you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were ten, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family's traditions, you can see why you'd be pretty protective of that.

Read the rest of the President's interview here. And make sure to click around TNR's new website. It's pretty.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.