A virtual conversation with President Barack Obama....
Good to see you again, Mr. President.
And good to see you back for another of our discussions. I like them. What's on your mind today?
Sir, with Congress in recess and the fall campaigns cranking up, maybe it's a good time to review some of the high points of your presidency. Perhaps we could begin with the economy and the stimulus.
I have said repeatedly that we had to do something to clean up the mess the Bush/Cheney administration left me. I have worked tirelessly and I am proud of what I have accomplished with the help of the Democratic Congress. Though I begged them for it, bipartisan help from the Republicans was practically nil.
Unemployment hovering near 10 percent, with underemployment -- those wanting work but no longer looking for it -- between 17 and 24 percent? And a $12 trillion explosion of publicly held debt over the next decade? You've got to be kidding.
I couldn't be more serious. And the economy is beginning to roll.
Sir, the economy is stagnant at best. Some say the recession is not necessarily over. Others say there's minimal growth. The record shows that tax cuts boost growth and create jobs. Yet come January you seem set to let the Bush tax cuts expire.
I have said: "As November approaches, leaders in the other party will campaign furiously on the same economic arguments they've been making for decades. (They gave) tax cuts...to millionaires who didn't need them. They gutted regulations and put industry insiders in charge of oversight."
And the Bush tax cuts?
Bush/Cheney and the Republicans left me with exorbitant projected deficits. Those tax cuts were "skewed to the wealthy." We don't need to cut spending but to recognize "the dangers of an unfettered market." Fat cats don't own the show, and they shouldn't be allowed to run it. Government is best. "Only government has been able to do what individuals couldn't do and corporations wouldn't do."You mean pander to the unions? You mean limit corporate free speech while not limiting unionists' free speech? You mean make Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern one of the most frequent visitors to the White House -- and name him to your budget deficit commission?
I mean such things are central to my mission, and the heart of what I am all about. Can we move on to something besides the economy?
Of course. Immigration? Why are you holding border security hostage to (your words) "comprehensive immigration reform"? Arizona has a problem.
Arizona's problem is too many Republicans. They are denying the civil rights of the nation's immigrant labor force.
Sir, the rights of immigrants here legally are in place and protected. Those here illegally have but minimal civil rights -- wouldn't you agree?
I would agree that the Republicans will have a tougher time in the fall elections with limited Hispanic support, and I am doing my best to see that they cash as few Hispanic votes as possible.
Mr. President, what about Rangel/Waters?
The Republicans have had many ethical challenges. And don't forget that Charlie Rangel has a marvelous legacy. He is one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Deepwater Horizon? ObamaCare? The Muslim mosque proposed for a New York site near Ground Zero? The failure to address the many shortcomings of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Yucca Mountain? Your global warming concerns that trump energy independence? The collapse of cap-and-trade? The undiluted leftism of Justice Sonja Sotomayor and her ideological twin, Justice-in-waiting Elena Kagan? The sheer hubristic hypocrisy inhering in the harboring of the Kerry yacht?
The hammering of Toyota despite the exonerating findings of your own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration?
I don't own Toyota but two of its competitors -- Chrysler and General Motors.
Multiple failures regarding, for instance, Russia, China, and North Korea? Your overt hostility to Israel? Your opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, despite its neighbor Venezuela's mounting anger toward the U.S.? WikiLeaks?
I have directed the military to determine whether the alleged principal leaker, Army guy Bradley Manning, is a Republican. My logic says he has to be.
Oh, and Iran's resolute rush to acquire weapons of mass destruction?
There you go again.
Look, if Bush hadn't plotted and misled about WMDs in Iraq, I wouldn't have the issues I face there now. We need to go slow regarding Iran, and not succumb to Republican demands that we do something to prevent its development of WMDs. I went to Columbia and Harvard, where I learned about quagmires. For me, the lessons of Vietnam and Iraq are to avoid quagmires in places like Afghanistan and Iran.
Like the plague. And never mind the prattlings of the Republicans or the vast right-wing conspiratorial media. Or the dread Cheney. Or -- I can't say it enough -- Bush.