I stay about two years behind in listening to my WTF podcasts. Until today, I never skipped ahead to listen to this or that guest being interviewed by Marc Maron, no matter how big a fan of the person I was, because there is a continuity to the episodes and I prefer to work my way through them the hard way.
That changed today. When I started to sync my iPod before walking the dog this morning, I saw that Marc’s guest for the episode dated 6/22/15 was Pres. Obama. Yes. That Pres. Obama. How could I not listen in real (so to speak, since it’s a podcast) time?
I’m glad I didn’t wait. Obama seemed relaxed, and he also seemed familiar with Maron and his show, which is usually recorded in his garage somewhere in East-ish L.A. and which often involves Marc walking the guest through their early years and discovering how they impacted the work they’re doing today. His interview with Obama was no different, and Obama seemed happy to open up on any subject.
I decided not to read any other commentary on what I will call this “event,” until I had posted about it but I did see the picture on Facebook that I added here, and a comment under it that said FOX News is exploding over it. Do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast before you listen to the critics. No doubt they’re upset because Obama is on top of his game (well, except for basketball — listen to the show and you’ll understand that), and because he speaks so reasonably about the issues facing our country, and taking the long view.
You know, one of the interesting things is the conversations I have with supporters who will say to me, “You know we think you’re a great guy, and you’ve done some good things but I’m so disappointed with X, ’cause X didn’t happen the way I wanted it,” and what I have to explain to them is that progress, in a democracy, is never instantaneous, and it’s always partial, and you can’t get cynical or frustrated because you didn’t get all the way there immediately.
During the health care debate there were a lot of people who just wanted a single-payer plan, right? And as I said before, if I were designing a system from scratch, that would probably make more sense. We’re…one of the few countries that has this weird amalgam of private sector and Medicare and sort of a patchwork system, hugely inefficient. We spend more than any of the other advanced countries, our outcomes aren’t necessarily better. But the notion that we were just gonna scrap the existing health care system, which is a sixth of our economy and employs millions of people — that wasn’t gonna happen.
So the question is, “Alright, given where we’re starting now, how do we move as best we can in the right direction?” Five years later, we’ve got millions of people who have health care who didn’t have it before, we have the lowest uninsured rate that has ever been recorded. But for a lot of people, they’re looking at it and saying, “Well we didn’t get everything we wanted.” For me, what I say to myself is, to those millions of people, many of whom write to me and say, “You saved my life,” [is] that’s democracy working. That’s government working.
Squarespace sponsored this episode and set up a website with behind-the-scenes pictures and a link to the podcast on iTunes. Go. Listen.
Update: FOX News seems to be most upset that Obama used the n-word, as in: “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.” As usual, FOX pretty much missed the point.