Obama, Unfiltered – Bloomberg Politics


Of late, the president doesn’t sound like pedantic Barack Obama, the constitutional law professor, or cautious Barack Obama, who’s holding back because he doesn’t want to alienate his base or foreclose his options for that elusive bipartisan moment, or Barack Obama whose “no drama” persona has earned him an “anger translator” to vent his “true” feelings.

In place of the disciplined, even-keeled commander-in-chief of his first six years in office, we now have what you might call Obama Unfiltered.

Obama previewed the change late last year, after Democrats lost control of the Senate in the midterm elections. “My presidency is entering the fourth quarter; interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter,” he said last December. “And I’m looking forward to it.” He pulled the trigger on a series of executive moves: deferring deportations of some undocumented immigrants, reaching a climate agreement with China and reopening relations with Cuba. Arguably, actions speak louder than words. But words have a way of getting attention. And Obama has been talking differently over the course of the last few weeks.

Visiting Nike headquarters on May 8 in Oregon, to promote fast-track negotiating authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Obama defended his trade stance, saying, “I’ve run my last election, and the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy.” Then, uncharacteristically, he went on to say of fellow Democrats opposing him, “I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They’re just wrong.”

Obama has directly gone after one of the leading Democratic opponents of his trade push, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a darling of the base who had helped stand up Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In an interview with Yahoo recorded during that Nike visit, Obama said that while he and Warren deeply agree on most things, she is “absolutely wrong” on trade and that “her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.” Although he said at a press conference this week that their disagreement “has never been personal.” Obama also suggested that Warren, who’s been floated as a presidential candidate while ruling out a 2016 run, had an ulterior motive. “The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” he said. “And I understand that.”

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