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. Sniffit

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

    Well, to be fair, Disney and LucasArts have essentially managed to combine Star Wars and Star Trek in the same director. I expect a full on disaster. IT'S A TRAP!!!

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

    Silly President – it's a Vulcan Mind Meld.

    March 1, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Fedup

    Anything you say Mr. Dictator. How would you know what the rigjht thing is anyway. Yoiu never had a real job. Apparently, having a balanced budget is a wrong thing. Apparently, raising the national debt to $16 trillion is the right thing. Handing out food stamps, welfare checks and free cell phones to people who can work, but just do not want to work at the tax payers expense has to be the right thing in you mind. Going on a 100 city tour in Air Force One when the entire country is in dire shape. Yes, that is another good thing considering what it cost us TAX PAYERS for luxury expenses. Some us cannot even afford a vaction yet you spend millions on yours every year. DO NOT TELL US WHT THE RIGHT THING IS WHEN YOU HAVE NO CLUE

    March 1, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    "Yeah Obama is not a dictator, and bears dont poop in the woods."

    Whoever this person is,
    He belongs to the GOP.
    Lock. Stock. And Barrel.

    This is what you're voting FOR, America.

    Get used to it. It's the new norm.

    March 1, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. ShawnDH

    Republicans think Obama is "a dictator" because he won reeelction in a landslide and the American people support him overwhelmingly on all the issues. That's all. That's worse than HITLER! or something.

    March 1, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. n, tx

    The problem are the Republicans, they do not want to work with the president and Democrats. These Republicans have one vision America to fail. Shame on all the Republicans.

    March 1, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    I see Bob Fredericks couldn't resist calling the POTUS a boy....

    March 1, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Bill-FL

    STOP the whinnying, STOP the madness, STOP giving this president a pass. He owns this economy and the cuts. He just has selective memory. Tough getting old, the mind is first to go.

    March 1, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Nyteshades

    Is Vulcan Mind-meld and Jedi mind trick. Don't go all JJ Abrahams.

    March 1, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "republican presidents have routinely kept the economy in better shape."

    The last 5 recessions happened while a Republican was POTUS. Are you sure you want to engage me in this?

    March 1, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. dictator

    He wishes he was! Worst ever!

    March 1, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. cnnmembuh

    "...I just play one in the public arena."

    March 1, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. sunt ubi

    I am not a crook.

    Where have we heard that before.

    I don't believe most Americans think Obama is fair in his presentation or has presented a fair compromise. He is not a compromiser.

    March 1, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Harry 101

    He's right he is not a dictater at least not yet. With the help of CNN and NBC the one party one voice dream may come true. I bet he has his fingers crossed.

    March 1, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. RachaelA

    He references "most people" a whole lot. "...even though most people agree that I'm being reasonable, that most people agree I'm presenting a fair deal...". Where is he coming up with the show of support from "most people"? Many polls show just the opposite.

    March 1, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. Greg

    Until today Obama was convinced that he was a dictator, or at least could function like one. At last, he has been confronted with the limits of his power. About damn time.

    March 1, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Kevin

    Did he just say Jedi Mind Meld? I thought the mind meld was from spock and the vulcans in star trek?

    March 1, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. cnnife

    All I know is that American people are not stupid and they are well informed and educated. Poll after poll show that the GOP are on the wrong side of issues and ideas that are so important to the vast majority of the citizen of this great nation and this vast majority sides with the POTUS common sense approach respecting the deficit. The GOP simply ignores common sense and the finest idea of expert and economist. When you make those choices as a party, there WILL be political consequences.

    March 1, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. Jerry

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    @ Lynda
    Please proceed ...

    Catch you all later
    Your "dole" checks just arrived in the mail. Enjoy!!!

    March 1, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Bob

    Not a dictator? That will come as news the right wing echo chamber.

    March 1, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Cam

    "I am not a dictator"....Obama "I am not a crook".....Nixon

    March 1, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. u.s. slave

    Im in favor of ending doe not just trimming. Give schools back to state and stop federal income tax. Hell if i really had it my way there would be no public schools,atleast nothing after age 11 but carl marx gets his way in america 10 planks style

    March 1, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. PeteH

    Obama is as close to a dictator as has ever sat in the Oval Office. You don't have to agree with me. Just wait until the history books bear it out. Of course, by that time it'll be too late...

    March 1, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Dawn

    Obama, get your head out of Hollywood/Television, and put your brain back where it belongs in Washington. D.C. I'm sick and tired of hearing the middle class has to always pay for this and that. Give up your saleries for a few weeks and see how fast things get back to where they belong. Funny, how when you were running for office the gas prices were sooooooooooooo low, then when you got into office BAM, up they climb. Not just a penny. One hour it is 3.69 an hour later it is 3.89. How come it does not go down as fast as it goes up???????????? say you are not a dictator????????????? Prove it to the American public. Work for us and not your own pickets. It's about time greed stops. Try living on our pay checks and see how far you get.

    March 1, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. freedom

    I stand by both of my comments. And Bob Woodward could run circles around those criticizing him today – they sure weren't critical when he helped bring Nixon down. He was their hero then. Hypocrisy in all its glory! And not even trying to hide it. They could learn a lot from him.

    March 1, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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