March 1st, 2013
12:03 PM ET
9 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. xfiler93

    Oh, how he would love to be though!!! He has fans like Chavez and Castro!

    March 1, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    @ plain&simple, yes, that's right, because we know that democrats have not put their agenda over what's best for the country, right? A compromise is just that, it means that nobody gets exactly what they want, both sides need to concede a little to get a little. Problem is President Obama has turned every looming crisis into a way to try to leevy raising taxes. He just got taxes raised on the wealthy at end of year and guess what, Republicans were the ones who compromised on that. Now, instead of compromising with Republicans on spending cuts, which is what they want, he won't do it. Reports have also come out that Mr. Obama's plan would only raise our deficit, not lower it, which is the goal.

    March 1, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Bill-FL

    Because I don't know how to manage my expenses, I told my boss she has to pay me more.

    That is the logic the President is using. Raise taxes, spending is not the problem.

    Good luck selling that bridge to nowhere.

    March 1, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. Oakspar77777

    He does not force them to bow to his will only because he doesn't have mind control and cannot legally make them do it by force?

    So, he is not a dictator – but only because he can't be one.

    March 1, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. Tom in Santa Fe

    "... a Jedi mind-meld ..."
    Idiot in charge – its a Vulcan mind-meld.
    And to say that these cuts are dumb, the real dumb thing is that you, Mr. President, insisted that these automatic cuts be part of the agreement from last year and now you blame the GOP of forcing your hand and, as you always do so elegantly, blame everyone that is not in agreement with you. No, you are not a dictator, but instead a despot.

    March 1, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Wilson

    Once these cuts are implemented, Obama and his NeoCom cadres will blame the "Republican Sequester" for any and all ills between now and the 2014 midterm election. Obama knows that the net effect of his $300 billion payroll and income taxes hikes, on top of skyrocketing ObamaCare health insurance premiums, mounting debt and deep military cuts already enacted, will send the economy back into recession.

    March 1, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. crzyactr

    Jedi's trick minds. Vulcan's meld them. Get it together Mr. President

    March 1, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Susan Anderson

    What ever happen with working together? If people are paying attention they will notice the President has never stepped in until the last minute and then spends all his time pointing fingers. Is he not suppose to be the leader, so how about leading instead of spending tax payers money running around the country saying the sky is falling. He should have been in DC doing his job. What I am really courious about is why our gov't keeps attacking the hard working people and those who really need aid instead of talking about stopping the spending of billions of dollars to illegal immigrants and those frauding the gov't programs. Why do we keep sending billions of dollars to other countries when the US is in so much financial trouble? IT's easier to attack gov't employees, retirees and the working class that go after the real money hogs. May God help us because of elected officials are going to break this countries back at the rate they are going.

    March 1, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Homer and Jethro

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

    It's boring as all heck to hear a talking soccer ball endlessly bringing up far-right talking points. Get a life, troll. Seriously, ATLAS SHRUGGED is bad social sci-fi written by a gloomy Russian lady. Trying to find points of contact between her imaginary world and the real one is as useless as doing the same thing with STAR WARS.

    March 1, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. sonny chapman

    TRUTH : A Bill that closes tax loopholes AND makes adjustments to Medicare & Social Security could pass in the House, with some Repub. support if Boehner would ALLOW a vote. That same Bill could pass in the Senate, with some Repub. support, if McConnell would promise no Filibuster. The U.S. Economy would then take off & unemployment would come down. BUT, it would cost John Boehner his Speaker Position.

    March 1, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. K from AZ

    That's what Hitler said also!

    March 1, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Homer and Jethro

    "your the Presidential Dictator" Ask your teacher to explain what a president does, honey. And how to put in apostrophes, too. Now hush, we're talking.

    March 1, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Wilson wrote:

    It is both entertaining and scary to watch the book "Atlas Shrugged," being brought to life by this administration.
    What is scary has been the decades of effort by Republicans to be the progenitors of an economic apartheid in the US.

    March 1, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Choconet

    The question that reporter asked is born out of ignorance of not knowing the structure of our governmental system! Obama's right. He's not a dictator nor will he ever be because he doesn't have the power!!! There are three branches of government and each one is on the same level playing field. Mr. President cannot "make" either branch do what he wants them to! That even includes making the Supreme Court strike down Prop 8! All he can do is write a damn letter, he can't make congress or the Supreme Court do a damn thing because he doesn't have the "power" to do it! The system was deliberately set-up this way by our forefathers to prevent arrogant Presidents like Obama or Bush from becoming a dictators and destroying the country! Although both did and are doing a bang up job trying to destroy it.

    March 1, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Name

    all of you folks should get your heads examined

    March 1, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. roger

    He should have said "Jessica, I'm not a dictator OR a President. I'm here to appease the left but I don't know what you would call me." I have a few good names.

    March 1, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Tim

    Now that we have the Presidents Sequester in place this moron CNN reporter asked the stupidest question imaginable!!! Not sure who's more pathetic the President or the press. The President came up with the sequester idea, signed it into law and now is crying its not my fault!!!

    March 1, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. db

    There goes our 'Liar in Chief' again. The truth is, he wishes he wasn't our president, but our dictator and you can bet your last dime if there was anyway Obama could make himself our dictator, he would.

    March 1, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Wilson

    @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!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The key and what makes it dictatorial is the fact that people are now "forced" to buy the insurance or pay the penalty. They should be allowed to die if they want to.

    March 1, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. roger

    Our President is not at fault.

    March 1, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    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.
    What the Republicans are doing is trying to turn the name "Obama" into something by 2014 and 2016 that was just as toxic as "Bush" was in 2006 and 2008. That is what their long term goal is. They have delusions of grandeur of being able to turn the tables on liberals and use their own strategies against them. They think that they're being clever.

    March 1, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. freedom

    I read it right – and stand by my comment. Bob Woodward is an accomplished, serious journalist, who these new punk journalists could learn a lot from – instead of bashing him and protecting their "master." My opinion stands for him too.

    March 1, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. ShawnDH

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

    Yawn. Nobody is interested in your goofy Randian extremism. Grow up.

    March 1, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. ophu

    @"Homer and Jethro": As someone who's spent time in an emergency room, I guarantee you that ignoring the bill has never been an option. You can pay it back in monthly installments, but you eventually must pay it back unless you die first. Then they go after your next-of-kin or something, I'm not rellay sure. But I know I never got a free pass on it.

    March 1, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. ShawnDH

    Vote all Republicans OUT of Congress in 2014. They are a national disgrace and have only "succeeded" in sabotaging our national recovery. It's disgusting.

    March 1, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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