March 1st, 2013
12:03 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama: 'I am not a dictator, I'm the president'

(CNN) - Asked Friday by CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin why President Obama can't simply refuse to let congressional leaders leave a room until they reach a deficit-reduction agreement, the president said he can't "force Congress to do the right thing."

"Jessica, I am not a dictator, I'm the president," he said while speaking to reporters in the White House Press Briefing Room. "Ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say we need to go to catch a plane, I can't have Secret Service block the doorway."

"I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that's been floating around Washington, and that somehow–even though most people agree that I'm being reasonable, that most people agree I'm presenting a fair deal–the fact that they don't take it means that somehow I should do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right," he added.

Obama went on to say that those leaders are elected and have their own responsibilities. For his part, the president said he the best he can do is "make the best possible case for why we need to do the right thing" and "speak to the American people about the consequences of the decisions that Congress is making or the lack of the decision-making by Congress."

"But ultimately it's a choice they make, and this idea that somehow there's a secret formula or secret sauce to get speaker Boehner or Mitch McConnell to say 'You know what Mr. President, you're right'...I think if there was a secret way to do that, I would have tried it. I would have done it."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Homer and Jethro

    "force every American to buy healthcare or face a stiff fine" Remember, your boys were invited to help write the healthcare laws. They laughed and walked out, and they are still stinging from Pelosi telling them they could read it now that it had passed if they cared to know what was in it. Healthcare is out of control, and you aren't going to be allowed to just go the emergency room and ignore the bill anymore. Pay for your healthcare like the rest of us do.

    March 1, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. rs

    The GOP has too long believed their own radical rhetoric. It is what allowed them to believe polls were rigged, or that Romney won the election. Politely it is delusional behavior. Politically speaking it is insanity. Their party will not survive their ongoing civil war, and their out-of-this-world reaction to pretty much everything dooms them as a party fueled only by fake crisis. There IS no negoriation with the GOP, they hate the President and hate America for voting for him. These are the dead-end kids out for one last joy-ride before they crash and burn.

    March 1, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |

    @Fair is Fair
    Methinks he doth protest too much.

    March 1, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
    Responding to a question is protesting? Fair, since 2008 you've been on the wrong side of what the majority of the citizenry wants. It's okay to be center-right you know.

    March 1, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Josh

    Well guess what obama? Your a horrible one! Your not taking away our guns either!

    March 1, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. Peg

    Yes, the truth is simple. We see right through what our Peace Prize winner is up to. The same Peace Prize winner who loves abortion, especially late term abortion. Runs guns to enemies in Mexico. Hates torture, but enjoys a good Drone strike, especially on Americans. And, let's not forget the most important thing, our Government is arming, funding and supporting radical Islam, And with our hard earned money. And, the sequestration was his idea. I am middle class working Mom, an he raised my taxes 2 percent as of Jan. 1st. Said he wasn't going to raise our taxes. Didn't want to hurt the middle class. Oh yeah, and he wants to disarm us. Did you know the number one cause of unnatural deaths? Death by Government. Oh, it's very, very clear what is going on here. Don't you know silly? Good will prevail. It always does.

    March 1, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. plain&simple raging liberal

    The truth is, do you want to continue to rob from future generations. 1 + 1 is not 3 plain&simple.

    March 1, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Bet203

    Wow. These comments are unbelieveable. Just because the President CLAIMS his proposals are reasonable and "conventional wisdom" (to those who already agree with him – perhaps he should actually listen to someone who isn't his "yes Man") says that he's reasonable doesn't make it so. Of course he says his proposals are reasonable – they have nothing to do with making the US better- they are about making sure the Democrats stay in power. Look at the EVIDENCE of history- republican presidents have routinely kept the economy in better shape. We were founded by people who took responsibility for their own actions and didn't WANT government to take care of them because they personally witnessed the corruption it created. We have lost that and are weak as a result. His policies are doing nothing but destroying our country.

    March 1, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Bubba™

    The Right's whole strategy of convincing the old folks that Obama had somehow "taken over the government" instead of being fairly elected has failed everywhere outside of Kansas and Utah. Yet they keep on braying and kicking the stall? Get over it, silly Republicans. If you are going to ignore reality and go live in a fantasy world, try the one with the ponies and carebears.

    March 1, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Anthony

    Obama is not a dictator. Even if he wants to change the cuts, he can't do it. That is why Republicans want to give him budget cut discretion, because Obama doesn't have that power. So, can anyone explain why giving the president budget cut discretion, so that he can void some cuts and shift the cuts to other programs, is not the same as giving him a line-item veto? What did the Supreme Court do with the line-item veto?

    March 1, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. ST

    These republicans should understand that we do not line up eight hours or more to elect a president so that he gets punished by the opposition side. That is NOT what we intended to do. We elected him to work for us and implement all agendas he campaigned for. Putting all blocks on his way, you are not punishing him, you are punishing all ofus. What about getting out of his the way and let him work, because he won and we elected him with a huge number and whether you like it or not, you must respect the will of people.

    March 1, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Pale Rider

    Lead, follow or get out of the way. I suggest you get out of the way.

    March 1, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. bob fredericks

    What he is is an Alinskyite. A progressive. A marxist.

    He is the the greatest community organizer in the history of social justice. Alinsky would have been so proud!

    He is not a leader. He is an errand boy who would be kiing.

    March 1, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Ray E. (Georgia)

    With Statements like YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT why would anyone believe anything you say. You are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Please ! Don't do me any more favors, I can't afford 'em. And do try to get the Senate to take up the Budget. Maybe there you can do some real good. A balaced budget would be great !!

    March 1, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. bob fredericks

    What he is is an Alinskyite. A progressive. A marxist.

    He is the the greatest community organizer in the history of social justice. Alinsky would have been so proud!

    He is not a leader. He is an errand boy who would be king.

    March 1, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Shane

    "Jedi mind meld"? I think he just combined Star Trek and Star Wars in the same sentence! Tsk*tsk*

    March 1, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Chuk

    You would think since republicans tried to make President a "one term President" and failed, they would wise up and at least work on behalf of the country. No. They'd rather cling on to their ideological principles even if it blows up the country.

    March 1, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Really!?

    Playing the blame game like the president does with EVERY single problem is the sign of a terrible leader.

    March 1, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine


    Obama wont force Congress to do the right thing, but he sure as hell can force every American to buy healthcare or face a stiff fine. Yeah Obama is not a dictator, and bears dont poop in the woods.
    Geez, where did I miss that in my world history class? Yep, buying health insurance is the first sign of dictatorship, followed by making sure you drive on the right side of the road in this country-what do you mean, we're already doing that? WE LIVE IN A DICTATORSHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. j

    No, your the Presidential Dictator

    March 1, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. RINO Bill

    Yes he is, but he is not the president Republicans hoped for, expected, and were certain of ... so they are back to playing their partisan obstructionist games while the rest of the country suffers.

    But that's OK with them because their irresponsible big business donars are really backing their position.

    March 1, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. D M

    I am not a dictator, I'm the president," he said while speaking to reporters in the White House Press Briefing Room. "A situation I hope to rectify during the next four years," he added.

    March 1, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Fact Checker

    As Sean Connery once said, Sometimes you have to shlap them around".

    March 1, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Wilson

    It is both entertaining and scary to watch the book "Atlas Shrugged," being brought to life by this administration.

    March 1, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. Don't believe it

    Oh Mr. President think of it this way. If you were a CEO of a major corporation and it was time to vote and someone on the board said they had to catch a plane do you really think they would be allowed to leave without voting.. Make them responsible they aren't on the clock or getting paid by the hour; if they were we'd probably have a surplus. You can make them stay until it hurts, who cares if these egotistical self proclaimed demigods have to work a couple of days straight to get the job done? AMERICA cares... they forfeited they right to go home when they got elected if they want to go home let it be for good. There will always be someone in back of them willing to step up to the new mentality. Don't back down anymore tell them as long as you're in the room you expect them to be there and if you call for a vote make them vote, then publish their votes. Let the AMERICAN people judge the mouths on their actions.. Whew!

    March 1, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Come-to-work-now

    I am so tired of hearing about economic disparity. My dad immigrated to this country with virtually the clothes on his back and his family. Our first "residence" was a one car garage and he worked hard, learned the language, spent frugally and has acquired wealth well in excess of three million dollars. He earned that money, what right do you have to take more and more to provide charity.

    I'm a shop foreman for a middle sized company machining precision components. Try as I might I can't get minorities to come to work for $14.20 per hour, good medical, and educational benefits in our entry level machinist program. They would rather draw "charity" from the government. Meanwhile we are attacked for not "actively" recruiting minorities.

    Add to this the 22 years I served my country in the Army only to see my benefits erode faster then the government giveaways. I could even live with that if they would CUT spending!

    Bottom line; this president is a showman NOT a leader!

    March 1, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7