Obama and the Flag
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You know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. It's my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren.
If we as a Nation of warring people, should conduct ourselves as the nations of Islam, whereas peace prevails. Perhaps a state or period of mutual concord between our governments. When I become President, I will seek a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts.
We as a Nation have placed upon the nations of Islam an unfair injustice. Together she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past, many years ago. She has her views and I have mine. Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United States and I have put aside my hatred.
My wife and I look forward to becoming our Country's First Family. First, Obama was not on Meet the Press on Sept. Bill Ginn on the show. That was a central piece of your campaign. Here's what you had to say. We need to roll back the Bush-McCain tax cuts and invest in things like health care that are really important.
Instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthy, who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, we should be putting a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working families. Have the economic conditions changed what you hoped to do about taxes?
Is that your plan? Well, understand what my original tax plan was. It was a net tax cut. Ninety-five percent of working families would get tax relief. To help pay for that, people like you and me, Tom, who make more than a quarter million dollars a year, would play--pay slightly more.
We'd essentially go back to the tax rates that existed back in the s. My economic team right now is examining do we repeal that through legislation? Do we let it lapse so that when the Bush tax cuts expire they're not renewed when it comes to wealthiest Americans?
And we don't yet know what the best approach is going to be, but the overall thrust is going to be that 95 percent of working families are going to get a tax cut, and the wealthiest Americans, who disproportionately benefited not only from tax cuts from the Bush administration but also disproportionately benefited when it comes to corporate profits and where the gains and productivity were going, they are going to give up a little bit more.
Barack Obama Explains Why He Didn't Follow Protocol During the National Anthem-Fiction!
And it turns out that But right away or ? Well, as I said, my economic team's taking a look at this right now. But, but I think the important principle--because sometimes when we start talking about taxes and I say I want a more balanced tax code, people think, well, you know, that's class warfare. It, it turns out that our economy grows best when the benefits of the economy are most widely spread.
And that has been true historically. And, you know, the real aberration has been over the last 10, 15 years in which you've seen a huge shift in terms of resources to the wealthiest and the vast majority of Americans taking home less and less. Their incomes, their wages have flatlined at a time that costs of everything have gone up, and we've actually become a more productive society.
So what we want to do is actually go back to what has been the traditional pattern. We have a broad-based middle class, economic growth from the bottom up. That, I think, will be the recipe for everybody doing better over the long term. Your vice president, Joe Biden, said during the course of this campaign it would be patriotic for the wealthy to pay more in taxes. In this economy, does he still believe that?
Well, I--you know, I think what Joe meant is exactly what I described, which is that if, if our entire economic policy is premised on the notion that greed is good and "What's in it for me," it turns out that that's not good for anybody. It's not good for the wealthy, it's not good for the poor, and it's not good for the vast majority in the middle. If we've learned anything from this current financial crisis--think about how this evolved.
You had a situation in which you started seeing home foreclosures rise. You had a middle class that was vulnerable and couldn't make payments. Suddenly, all the borrowing that had been--and, and, and all the speculation that had been premised on those folks doing OK, that starts evaporating. Next thing you know, you've got Lehman Brothers going under. People used to think that, well, there, there's no connection between those two things. It turns out that when we all do well, then the economy, as a whole, is going to benefit.
I want to move now to international affairs, the war on terror. Obviously, we have all been stunned by what happened in India at Mumbai. It is still playing out in that part of the world. You have said that the United States reserves the right to go after terrorists in Pakistan if you have targets of opportunity. Does India now also have that right of hot pursuit? Well, I'm not going to comment on that. What, what I'm going to restate is a basic principle.
Number one, if a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself. I think that's universally acknowledged. The second thing is that we need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region--Pakistan and India and the Afghan government--to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community.
And, as I've said before, we can't continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran.President Barack Obama Owns Anthony Scaramucci - All In - MSNBC
And part of the kind of foreign policy I want to shape is one in which we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number one threat against U.
And that's al-Qaeda and, and, and their various affiliates, and we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come. President Zardari of Pakistan has said that he expects you to re-examine the American policy of using unmanned missiles for attacks on terrorist camps in Pakistan; and there have been civilian casualties in those attacks as well.
Are you re-examining that policy? Well, I--what I want to do is to create the kind of effective, strategic partnership with Pakistan that allows us, in concert, to assure that terrorists are not setting up safe havens in some of these border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. So far President Zardari has sent the right signals. He's indicated that he recognizes this is not just a threat to the United States, but it is a threat to Pakistan as well.
There was a bombing in Pakistan just yesterday that killed scores of people, and so you're seeing greater and greater terrorist activity inside of Pakistan. I think this democratically-elected government understands that threat, and I hope that in the coming months that we're going to be able to establish the kind of close, effective, working relationship that makes both countries safer. That part of the world is such a hot zone.
Is it going to be necessary for you to appoint some kind of a special envoy to worry only about South Asia with presidential authority? I have enormous confidence in Senator Clinton's ability to rebuild alliances and to send a strong signal that we're going to do business differently and place an emphasis on diplomacy.
Let's talk for a moment about Iraq. It was a principal--it was one of the principals in the organization of your campaign at the beginning. A lot of people voted for you because they thought you would bring the war in Iraq to an end very swiftly. Here is what you had to say on July 3rd of this year about what you would do once you took office. I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war responsibly, deliberately, but decisively.
When does the drawdown of American troops begin and when does it end in Iraq? Well, one of my first acts as president, once I'm sworn in, will be to bring in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to bring in my national security team, and design a plan for a responsible drawdown.
You are seeing a convergence. When I began this campaign, there was a lot of controversy about the idea of starting to draw down troops. Now you've seen the--this administration sign an agreement with the Iraqi government, both creating a time frame for removing U.
And so what I want to do is tell our Joint Chiefs, let's do it as quickly as we can do to maintain stability in Iraq, maintain the safety of U. But recognizing that the central front on terror, as Bob Gates said, started in Afghanistan, in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Dec. 7: President-elect Barack Obama - Meet the Press | NBC News
That's where it will end, and that has to be our priority. Jim Jones, who is your new national security adviser, the man that you want to have in that job, who was the Marine commandant when we first went into Afghanistan, I had a conversation with him at that time, and he said to me, "I know how we're going to get into Afghanistan; I don't know how we're going to get out of Afghanistan.
Well, I think we're, we're starting to see a consensus that we have to have more effective military action, and that means additional troops, but it also means more effective coordination with our NATO allies. It means that we have to have much more effective diplomacy in the region.
We can't solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan and working more effectively with that country. And we are going to have to make sure that India and Pakistan are normalizing their relationship if we're going to be effective in some of these other areas. And we've got to really ramp up our development approach to Afghanistan. I mean, part of the problem that we've had is the average Afghan farmer hasn't seen any improvement in his life. You know, we haven't seen the kinds of infrastructure improvements, we haven't seen the security improvements, we haven't seen the reduction in narco trafficking, we haven't seen a reliance on rule of law in Afghanistan that would make people feel confident that the central government can, in fact, deliver on its promises.
And if we combine effective development, more effective military work, as well as more effect diplomacy, then I think that we can stabilize the situation. Our number one goal has to be to make sure that it cannot be used as a base to launch attacks against the United States, and we've got to get bin Laden and we've got to get al-Qaeda.
Here's something else that Afghan farmer has never seen nor have any of his ancestors ever seen this: Well, I, I think that we do have to be mindful of the history of Afghanistan.
It is tough territory. And there's a fierce independence in Afghanistan, and if the perception is that we are there simply to impose ourselves in a long-term occupation, that's not going to work in Afghanistan.
By the way, that's not going to work in Iraq either. There are very few countries that welcome long-term occupations by foreign powers. But Afghanistan has shown that they are fiercely resistant to that. We're going to have to convince the Afghan people that we're not interested in dictating what happens in Afghanistan.
What we are interested in is making sure that Afghanistan cannot be used as a base for launching terrorist attacks. And as long as al-Qaeda and the Taliban, working in concert with al-Qaeda, threaten directly the United States and are engaged in mayhem, then we've got to take action. And, and that very limited goal of making sure that that doesn't happen, I think, can serve as the basis for effective cooperation with the Afghan people.
Before we leave that part of the world, on Iraq, there's a new phrase that has come into play called "residual force," how many troops will stay behind in an Obama administration. Speculation is 35, to 50, Is that a fair number? Well, I'm not going to speculate on the numbers. What I've said is that we are going to maintain a large enough force in the region to assure that our civilian troops--or our, our, our civilian personnel and our, our embassies are protected, to make sure that we can ferret out any remaining terrorist activity in the region, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, that we are providing training and logistical support, maintaining the integrity of Iraq as necessary.
And, you know, I--one of the things that I'll be doing is evaluating what kind of number's required to meet those very limited goals. Now, two other areas that could be problematic in your administration, I want to deal with them fairly swiftly here if I can.
What are the circumstances under which you would open a dialogue with Iran? Well, I've said before, I think we need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran, making very clear to them that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, that their funding of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, their threats against Israel are contrary to everything that we believe in and what the international community should accept, and present a set of carrots and sticks in, in changing their calculus about how they want to operate.
You know, in terms of carrots, I think that we can provide economic incentives that would be helpful to a country that, despite being a net oil producer, is under enormous strain, huge inflation, a lot of unemployment problems there.
They could benefit from a more open economy and, and being part of the international economic system. But we also have to focus on the sticks, and one of the main things that diplomacy can accomplish is to help knit together the kind of coalition with China and India and Russia and other countries that now do business with Iran to agree that, in order for us to change Iran's behavior, we may have to tighten up those sanctions.
But we are willing to talk to them directly and give them a clear choice and, and ultimately let them make a determination in terms of whether they want to do this the hard way or, or the easy way. And, briefly, how soon after you take office do you want to meet with the leaders of Russia? And which ones do you meet with? Your counterpart is Medvedev; but, of course, the power behind the throne is Vladimir Putin.
Well, you know, this is something that we're going to make a determination on. I think that it's going to be important for us to reset U. Russia is a country that has made great progress economically over the last several years. Obviously, high oil prices have helped them. They are increasingly assertive. And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they've been acting in a way that's contrary to international norms.
We want to cooperate with them where we can, and there are a whole host of areas, particularly around nonproliferation of weapons and terrorism, where we can cooperate. But we also have to send a clear message that they have to act in ways that are not bullying their neighbors. You still have some appointments to make coming up, and there's also a good deal of consideration here in Illinois about who will replace you in the Senate.
But in New York this weekend the big buzz is Caroline Kennedy in the United States Senate, perhaps as the appointment to fill the seat that Hillary Clinton is expected to vacate if she gets confirmed as secretary of state. Well, let me tell you this.
'Meet the Press' transcript for Dec. 7, 2008
Caroline Kennedy has become one of my dearest friends and is just a, a wonderful American, a wonderful person. But the last thing I want to do is get involved in New York politics. I've got enough trouble in terms of Illinois politics. But just in terms of our appointments, I am very proud of the speed with which we have started to put together our core economic team, our national security team, but also the excellence of the candidates.
And I, I think that it's an indication of part of the change I was talking about during the campaign, an emphasis on competence, an emphasis on people who are nonideological and pragmatic and just want to do business.
You know, tomorrow, you had mentioned earlier, is when we commemorate Pearl Harbor, and so I'm going to be making announcement tomorrow about the head of our Veterans Administration, General Eric Shinseki, who was a commander and has fought in Vietnam, Bosnia, is, is somebody who has achieved the highest level of military service.
He has agreed that he is willing to be part of this administration because both he and I share a reverence for those who serve. I grew up in Hawaii, as he did. My grandfather is in the Punchbowl National Cemetery. When I reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and I think about how so many veterans around the country are struggling, even more than those who have not served--higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate--it breaks my heart.
And I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who's going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home. He's the man who lost his job in the Bush administration because he said that we would need more troops in Iraq than Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld thought that we would need at that time.
And General Shinseki was right. Let me ask you as we conclude this program this morning about whether you and Michelle have had any discussions about the impact that you're going to have on this country in other ways besides international and domestic policies. You're going to have a huge impact, culturally, in terms of the tone of the country. Who are the kinds of artists that you would like to bring to the White House?
Oh, well, you know, we have thought about this because part of what we want to do is to open up the White House and, and remind people this is, this is the people's house. There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education. Yes, we're going to have an education policy. Yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But, ultimately, we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House.
When it comes to science, elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about.
Thinking about the diversity of our culture and, and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that, once again, we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America. I--you know, that, I think, is, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we're going through hard times. And, historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that, that sense that better days are ahead.
I think that our art and our culture, our science, you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.
President-elect, the White House is a no-smoking zone, and when you were asked about this recently by Barbara Walters, I read it very carefully, you ducked. Have you stopped smoking? You know, I have, but what I said was that, you know, there are times where I've fallen off the wagon. Well, wait a minute.
Then that means you haven't stopped. What I would say is, is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier, and I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House.
President-elect, thank you very much for being with us today.