President Barack H. Obama
The White House
The Gulf oil spill opened my eyes.
As with Hurricane Katrina, it happened suddenly. I barked out orders. I pounded my desk. But the oil kept flowing. Worse, the nation watched it all on television and said: "Why doesn't the President do something? Doesn't he care?" From then on, I fully understood both the expectations and the limitations of this job.
I ran on "hope and change." I said I would bring the sides together. The American people, I told Republicans who opposed my stimulus plan, have spoken. And "I won."
So without any of the bipartisan support you received for your tax cuts, my stimulus passed, and I confidently predicted it would prevent unemployment from reaching 8 percent. It climbed to 10.2 percent.
Without a single Republican vote, we passed "ObamaCare." But half of the states' attorneys general filed suit to stop it. And a year after its passage, most Americans want it repealed.
My party lost its House majority and its Senate supermajority. Voters wanted smaller government. Turns out voters wanted to retain the "Bush tax rates" -- even for the rich -- which I campaigned against. Again, the American people had spoken.
The morning starts, as you know, with an intelligence briefing. My goodness, does America have enemies -- hateful, violent, vicious enemies all over the world who are determined to destroy this nation! Our job is to prevent them from succeeding -- all of them, all of the time.
I labeled you a cowboy, promised humility and offered enemy countries an "outstretched hand" for their "unclenched fist." But calling the Global War on Terror an "overseas contingency operation" not only failed to deter the Islamofascists from wanting to kill us, it suggested a weakness that only strengthened their resolve.
Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas and the mullahs who run Iran, I learned, couldn't care less that I'm a person of color, born to a Muslim father from Kenya, and who lived in Indonesia. They hate us still.
Guantanamo Bay exists for a reason. It imprisons the worst of the worst. No other country will take these terrorists, and many former detainees have returned to the fight.
Gitmo is among many of your "Bush era" terror-fighting policies that I not only retained but, in some cases, even expanded. What once seemed reckless and wrongheaded, I now see as prudent attempts to strike that difficult balance between safety and freedom.