During an appearance with Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama today resigned from office, claiming he had become “tired of dealing with knuckleheads.” What follows are excerpts from the surprisingly frank hour-long interview:
Oprah: This week many people are celebrating the killing of Osama Bin Laden, yet your poll numbers are still just slightly over fifty percent. And now, you’re walking away. What would you like the American people to understand about your three years in office?
Obama: First, Oprah, thank you for having me on your show. What I don’t think the American people realize is that my job is…how can I put this…HARDER THAN THEIRS. I know you all thought I was cool as a symbol—heck, I even got caught up in it—but I wasn’t campaigning to be a symbol. I was handed a big steaming plate of shit by the last guy and was asked to turn it into a chef’s salad. But since about week two of my presidency, everyone’s ‘disappointed.’ Seriously?
Oprah: But your campaign was all about ‘hope’ and ‘change’–
Obama: First of all, what I meant was that the American people should feel free to ‘hope’ for ‘change.’ Sure, we all had a good national catharsis yelling ‘Yes we can!’ but at about ten o’clock on January 20th, ‘we’ weren’t in charge, I was. And this may surprise those of you who missed the last two hundred and thirty-five years of American history, but the guy you pick as president has to work with a whole bunch of other people to get things done.
Oprah: When you were elected, it seemed you had the political capital to make your agenda a reality. What happened?
Obama: Of course, when my approval ratings were higher than Jesus, I wanted nothing more than to enact all of my ideas by some sort of sweeping decree. But it doesn’t work that way, because my office, as it turns out, is located in the REAL WORLD. So I decided to work with the Republicans—fine, I was an idiot on that one, but I actually thought, if any issue were a ‘life or death’ issue worthy of some teamwork, it might be health care, seeing as it deals with…life and death.
Oprah: I think we’re seeing another side of you, Mr. President. What are your real feelings about your critics?
Obama: Well, Oprah, I just get so irritated. I’m so tired of dealing with knuckleheads. But see, the President’s not allowed to be irritated. I’m sure most of you, in your non-presidential jobs, blow off steam once in a while. Not me. I have to be poised and calm, because if I showed the American people how I really felt, it wouldn’t look…presidential. And, there’d be panic in the streets. I swear, Oprah, I’m losing it. If one more person asks ‘what is President Obama’ going to do about this?’ I will snap. I just want to hand them copies of my morning briefings for the last few months and say “You figure this out.”
Oprah: Don’t you have an obligation to the millions who voted for you?
Obama: The people who most annoy me are the people who voted for me. I give the right-wing credit for one thing—they know how to do big-picture thinking. Instead of getting bogged down with details and facts, they simply lump every issue under the heading of ‘family values.’ Whereas my progressive supporters all seem to think that if their particular issue wasn’t made into law by April, then not only did I fail, but I violated their trust and abandoned my principles.
Oprah: Well, to a certain extent–
Obama: I’m not finished. I want to address the people who voted for me. To the sixty-six million, eight-hundred eighty-two thousand, two hundred thirty people who could get past the fact that I’m an Islamic Kenyan socialist, I’m sorry I couldn’t please every one of you. Oh, and I also wasn’t able to do everything I mentioned AT THE SAME TIME .
Oprah: We all remember specific things you promised as a candidate. Why have you not been able to deliver?
Obama: Well, as luck would have it, I didn’t get chosen as President of Gays in the Military, or President of the Environmentalists, or President of the Public Option People. I have to be president of everyone. Which means, somebody’s shit is gonna have to wait. When you’re home, don’t you make little to-do lists and prioritize? Now, imagine if your family had the national media get on your ass because, let’s say, you told them you planned on cleaning the rain gutters but didn’t get around to it yet because you were too busy fixing the broken pipe in the basement. All of sudden you’re having to defend yourself on MSNBC, saying that you realize progress has been slow on the rain gutters but that you are still committed to solving the rain gutter problem.
Oprah: I really appreciate how honest you’re being here.
Obama: As I’ve said, I don’t have the chance to tell people what I really think anymore. I’m too busy trying to figure out a way to keep some sort of health care for people, just in case they start clobbering each other with signs at town hall meetings, raging wackjobs at Tea Parties start shooting people. I didn’t even think the whole ‘Tea Party’ thing was a movement—it’s not like I can actually hear what you’re screaming at me when you march in front of my house—I’m usually way in the back…I thought it was just a bunch of really loud Revolutionary War buffs—you know, like some people reenact the Civil War on weekends.
Oprah: Is there anything else that you’d like to get off your chest?
Obama: Yes. Yes…I’m not thrilled with ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I don’t expect it to be as consistently funny as it was thirty years ago, but Fred Armisen as me? Really? A white guy in blackface?
Oprah: So, you’ve made up your mind to resign. Is there a chance you’ll change your mind?
Obama: Bottom line is, the job just isn’t worth the hassles. And, frankly, it’s too hard. Do you think I really understood every arcane and obscure detail about economics when I was running? I’ll bet most of you didn’t know what a derivative was either. I hired some smart people and we’ve tried to keep all the plates spinning. And guess what? Sometimes two smart people have different ideas about how to fix things. And they have to work out a compromise!
Oprah: When I had Jay-Z on the show, he mentioned how difficult it is to be on top.
Obama: I know how he feels. I suppose I’ll miss some things about being President—there are perks. But there are definitely things I won’t miss. Do you realize there were mornings when the person who woke me up was Rahm Emmanuel? Can I really walk away from that. I think I’m gonna look for a community that needs organizing—that’s where the real changes are made. Can I really walk away from the Presidency? Yes I can.
Oprah: Former President Barack Obama, everybody! Now if you’ll all look under your seats, you’ll find a special gift—it’s a copy of his autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope”!