February 15th, 2010
07:08 PM ET
13 years ago

Podesta: American political system 'sucks'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/15/art.podesta.gi.jpg
caption="The American political system 'sucks,' according to John Podesta."]
Washington (CNN) - John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, can describe the state of Washington politics with a single word. And it's not a nice one.

Asked in an interview with the Financial Times to comment on "the health of American political system," Podesta responded: "Sucks."

Podesta made the remark with a chuckle, but the man who chaired President Obama's transition team expressed deep concern about the White House's ability to pass big ticket items in the current political climate.

He blamed much of the gridlock on Republicans and a newly "strengthened" conservative movement.

"I think the president is trying to re-engage with Republicans, but quite frankly he is not dealing with the party of Lincoln, he is dealing with the party of Palin and the party of McConnell and the party of Boehner," Podesta said in the interview, which was filmed and posted online Monday. "They have a political strategy, really, which is that fierce opposition, trying to say no to everything will endure to their political benefit, and so far it looks like that is working for them, so I don't see them changing all that much."

But he also reserved a healthy dose of criticism for the Obama administration, which he said focused too much on the inside game of Congress during the health care debate, instead of communicating their broader goals to the electorate, particularly to independent voters.

"All the concentration was on working the inside legislative process and I think they paid a price for that, in my mind, the administration paid a price for that because I think the narrative was all about the deals and not what was in it, what the substance of what the legislation was and how it connected to the broader project" of improving people's lives and strengthening the economy, Podesta said.

Podesta, who was also Bill Clinton's final White House chief of staff, said he is optimistic that a health care bill can still be passed, along with new energy legislation.

"I'm not as despairing as all that to think that he still can't move forward," he said of the president. "He still has avenues open to him."

Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. Speaking for Liberals

    I would rather struggle to make this country better with Obama than to gaurantee its downfall by voting for McCain, Palin or any Repub that got us in this situation in the first place.
    I would rather fight against a unified lockstepin GOP than allow them to run this country into the ground and besmirch our fine national reputation for four more years.
    Yes, THE SYSTEM SUCKS! But we can fight the system, WE CAN CHANGE THE SYSTEM. We can fight for the ignorance, LIES and HATE. These are the elements of society that keep us form progressing.

    February 15, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Tim

    Of course it sucks. When the current President takes every opportunity to blast the past President for everything imaginable, and then extends a hand of bi-partisanship, it's no wonder the hand is slapped hard and often.

    Obama's a dope. Those who voted for him have been fooled, or worse.

    February 15, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. randy

    since obama become president every body is trying to bring this country down rather than to a very successful black president.

    February 15, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Monster Zero

    He blamed much of the gridlock on Republicans and a newly "strengthened" conservative movement.

    Uh-oh, what do you mean a newly strengthened conservative movement? Oh, you must mean all those Independents and moderate Democrats that voted for someone that doesn't exist, at least not beyond the campaign trail. Guess what, when you drive the country bankrupt the minority entitlement programs are the first to get the ax. How long can you hold your base when their promised paychecks aren't there?

    February 15, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Mickey

    Yes, it sucks because we have a new domestic terrorist organization in America...it's called the Republican Party.

    Their credo is:

    Reject EVERYTHING...Stand for NOTHING!

    February 15, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    The birthers have become the moderates in the new right wing extreme republican party. Doesn't say much for republicans does it?

    February 15, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Jazzy

    Congress is the good OLD white boy's club and they will fight to the death to conserve the contacts, network, power and free perks. There needs to be more people of color and women elected. Another consideration is time limits (no more than 2 terms) same as the office of President of the United States. That's the only way to pluck these career idiots out of their seats.They are burnt out and too greedy and stupid to know when to move the hell on!

    February 15, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    In America, it is majority rules everywhere but in the dysfunctional senate. What part of majority rules do the right wingnuts not get?

    February 15, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Too True For You

    He is right.

    The party of "No" only exists to pander to the reich wing, with their strategy of saying no to anything and everything that is not "cut taxes for the rich" .

    Now, idiot Pelosi and Reid the Spineless Wonder don't help the democrats, either. Pelosi, with her untempered desire to exact payback every chance she gets is as bad as the republicants. But at least she has a pair compared to Reid. No real leadership from those two.

    But Ken (February 15th, 2010 4:15 pm ET), m'boy, "Liberal hack....upset that the voters are waking up and rejecting the massive increases in government control and spending that the Obama gang are trying to shove down our throats" you are exactly the delusional revisionist that is causing the problem. Who extended the power of "government control" into our homes and phones by taking away our basic rights? The conservatives. Who massively increased spending? The conservatives. Hey buddy, the democrats left you with a SURPLUS. Conservatives spent us 5 trillion into the hole. Where was your patriotic concern over "massive spending" then?


    No one is blameless, but that kind of repeated mindless barfing of conservative crap-ola is maddening.

    February 15, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Hugo

    Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but.... February 15th, 2010 4:28 pm ET

    How does 59 democratic senators plus Joe Lieberman equal a supermajority? Have a nice day!

    A supermajority is when the Whitehouse, Senate and House of Representatives are majority controlled by the same party, that is how, Have a better Day! I guess Lieberman is the Dems red herring!

    February 15, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    The past president accepted no blame for any of the crap we are facing, and the repubs are content to act like Nero, and fiddle as America needs fixing.

    February 15, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Excuse me! What is the difference between these two parties? All I know is both have had a monopoly on my freedom for my entire lifetime (53 YRS), and year after year I work and struggle and get no where. Every year the taxes and fees to feed the massive Government go up and the value of the Dollar goes down.
    How can you folks continue to vote for these people who refuse to represent you? How can you vote for these two parties who have done nothing to your right for individual Liberty?
    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.

    February 15, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Wisconsin Don

    Dems controlled congress the last 3 years. That's when all the stuff hit the fan. Dems controlled both houses and the presidency the past year. Supermajority. Can't pass a bill. Blame the Republicans for saying no when their votes were not even needed. How pathetic it is for them to blame the Republicans and the previous administration.
    The Dems had a 3 on 0 fast break and blew the layup.
    Republicans are the party of KNOW.
    Dems are the party of "I DON'T KNOW".

    February 15, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Jane/Seattle

    He is completely Correct on this one. We have been sold out hook, line, and sinker by these power-hungry political types – spending our money and giving us NOTHING in return, except more and more debt! It would be different if this debt was actually for something valuable – like for the help for American citizens! All we get is more robbery for wars, weapons, foreign aid to their friends, and government contracts to crony companies.

    American kids are in the streets, hungry, suffering with crmbling schools and families as the wealthy get ever more rich while mouthing platitudes about caring for America! This government is the epitomy of UNpatriotic with these conditions forced upon us as we are sacrificed on the altar of more and more greed! Who will come out and expose them further and STAND with us to stop this charade from destroying any more of our children in line for the prisons planned for them later?

    February 15, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. mac from pa

    a year of super majority and this guy blames the republicans?
    When will they start taking responsibility for what they cant get done,

    February 15, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. jcg

    The 'NO' game...obstructionists...etc...?

    Blaming republicans is laughable...they didn't need them!

    With super majorities in the senate, congress and a rubber stamp waiting at the Whitehouse, they didn't need a single republican vote to jam their agenda through.... They still couldn't get it done...

    ..nobody to blame but themselves...but the dems still point fingers everywhere but in the mirror...now that 'sucks'.

    February 15, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Furthermore.... REAL CHANGE HAS come to America, we just have to stop blocking it out of fear. We the people elected what we have, but we are allowing others to block HOPE with FEAR.

    The America that my parents came to was an America where realists and idealist could forge a common bond: COUNTRY FIRST.

    Mr. President to you I say DO NOT GIVE UP SIR. We stand behind you. We may not be as loud or as visible, but we're here. Seek good counsel, and may the Almighty guide your steps. Do not forsake your idea of how illustrous our country can once again be, for we have not forsaken you.

    February 15, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Sadie

    2012 just like the Mayan calandar says........either it is going to be the End of Times or at least the End of life the way we know it.........with all the Hate building from the Grassroot conservatives, ........we are headed for a doomsday.......if the far right conservative religious nuts (Tea Baggers and Palin Followers) get their way ...... to be able to start up a new business or to Buy and Sell anything or to be profitable or to survive if they come into control ...... you will have to take the SIGN (as in the Bible) probably an "R" (for Republican) on your hand or your forehead......so they know you hold to their MORALES and VALUES of the CORE Conservative PRINCIPLES...without it you will be cast out........and they will feed us to the Lions.......just like in the biblical times.....

    February 15, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. Myke

    Our country is full of racists and fools. The Republican plan is too cause a stir JUST TO GET BACK in power.

    Those of you who want a QUICK FIX deserve to live miserably.

    February 15, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. todd

    Once again another true Obama insider telling his favoritism about communism!

    February 15, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. Lunar Chiroptera

    As the wall that divides this country grows higher we the voters assure that no help is forthcoming. The hard core partisans we elect every term do not govern for the best of the people, they govern for the advancement and entrenchment of their own party and ideology. With half the nation in favor of moving forward and half the nation in favor of moving backward we will remain unchanged. The republicans will again regain power, but just enough to remain powerless. The contest will remain a draw with no winners only losers.

    February 15, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. psgmichigan

    All you independents and voting: Think about Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Bachman, Palin, O'reilly, Demint, Boehner, Fox News, etc. etc. running this country. You think it was bad the last nine years (you have only given Obama one year) just wait. Wall st. and financial institutions given free reign, drilling on the beaches, armed conflict with anyone that disagrees with us, required religion, guns strapped to every waist, etc. etc. Do your homework before the next election.

    February 15, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    You LIBS make me laugh but in a sad way....you can't let a couple of minutes go by without blaming someone else for YOUR failures (note – your failures are Successes for America)....it would be funny if it wasn't so scary....the so-called party of no could not stop one bill -NOT ONE thanks to the dems supermajority and yet you blame the Republicans for BHO's inability to pull his own party together to pass his radical far lefty nutjob agenda......Shot – he not only couldn't pull his own party together (even with bribes and illegal chicago style politics political dealings) he has created deep divides that can't be filled in....and this is why you see dem after dem jumping ship before it sinks.....thank goodness!

    February 15, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. Paula

    I am in awe of Podesta's brevity – he summed up in one word what pretty much all of us feel.

    February 15, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. MatthewDetroit

    Maybe if they tried to meet halfway instead of forcing the liberal left agenda down everyones throat it would work.

    Clinton new how to negotiate and get things done.
    He worked with congress.

    The fact is that Obamas agenda is so far left and into the realm of socialism that he cant even get 60 democrats to agree.

    Maybe if he would stop trying to make this a communist country the voters and congress would actually be able to agree to some of his programs.

    February 15, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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