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. tuscany590

    He's not a dictator or a very competent POTUS..The cuts are "dumb", the sequester was orchestrated and signed into law by Obama. Therefore Obama & those who continue to fall for this stupidity, are the dumb ones.

    March 1, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Durundal

    I love reading these comments, such wh iny little tools. Its hard to believe some of you actually consider yourselves adults

    March 1, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. eatabiteofpeachpie

    "I am not a dictator" – Maybe, but he is working to rectify the situation.

    March 1, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. deedeemao

    If you have to come right out and deny it before anyone even makes the accusation then it's probably true.

    People laughed at Nixon when he said, "I am Not a Crook", and Chairman O's statement is equally laughable except for the fact that the American news media is heavilly invested in denying that this Emperor wears no clothes.

    March 1, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Rodboy

    We agree you are not a dictator, however, the most dangerous people in the world are Unconscious incompetents.

    March 1, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Lagos

    "Jedi mind-meld"

    March 1, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Rodboy

    We agree you are not a dic t ator but the most dang erou s people in the worl d are Unco nscious inco mpetents

    March 1, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. James

    This president just wants to grow government! What cuts have Obama or Reid proposed? They got their revenue and want to now move the goal posts an ask for more taxes before they will even discuss cuts.

    Lets go sequester! We don't need so many on the government payroll!

    March 1, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. WatrGrrl

    Obama says he's not a dictator? Well, no, he's not – he's an affirmative action failure.

    March 1, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. Aces Full, Mike

    I'm not a dictator, but I aspire...

    March 1, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Rachael

    The scary lies being posted by right wingers in these comments are disturbing. Obama is an excellent President with very mainstream, middle ground views and policies. He has been under attack by the GOP since elected and when the facts don't support them, they have no problem telling out right lies. There is NOTHING that Obama has done that should cause him to be accused on being a dictator. He was elected fair and square which is more than can be said about the GOP controlled House. It is a verified fact that the GOP only controls the House because of voter suppression and extensive gerrymandering by the GOP in the South and Midwest. I support Moderates and do not support extremist from either the GOP or the Democrats. Obama has my complete support. His only problem is he is 1 part of the US Government. The House and Senate have as much collective power as he does. The constant financial quagmire the US has been in since Obama was elected is casued by the GOP doing everything possible to make Obama look bad so they can win the next election. The GOP extremist care nothing about the US people or economy. They have been sabotaging it for years. We need to band together and vote the GOP extremist out of office in 2014!

    March 1, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Bet203 wrote:

    Wow. These comments are unbelieveable. ... ... 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. ... ...
    Okay, let's look at the evidence.

    The Reagan administration cut spending and taxes so severely that he caused a recession, which was followed by rampant inflation. He finally raised taxes to and increased spending to stimulate the economy. The real genius part about it is that he did all over again a second time. HIs own VP called "trickle down economics", "voodoo economics".

    Speaking of Bush-41, the country was still sufferring from Reagan's taxfoolery. We were suffering yet another recession resultilng from the "boom, then bust" economics of trckle down. Bush promised no new taxes, and we suffered through the worst recession since the early 1970s until he finally raised taxes and increased spending to pull us out of it. We also suffered through the financial industry's "Savings and Loan Crisis".

    Finally, let's talk about Junior, Bush-43. He turned a $300 billion annual surplus from FY2001 into a $1.5 trillion annual deficit by FY2009, which is nearly a 2 trillion dollar turn around in spending for just ONE year alone! Government spending doubled during his 8 years. The number of governement employees came close to doubling, which is why his unemployment was so artifically low because manufacturing dropped from 19 million workers to 11 million workers.

    Yes, the EVIDIENCE is makes a very compelling case about Republicans.

    March 1, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Donna

    Many would beg to differ. You have played dictator too many times over the last 4 years to use this line without receiving huge laughter. Executive order after executive order instructing your administration to disregard our laws in favor of illegals. You have stated many times you intended to go around our elected Senators and Representatives.

    It is only now, that you have incompetently painted yourself into a corner that you cry wolf. No sir, you are indeed a dictator. Maybe not a full grown one, but certainly one in the early stages.

    March 1, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. Anyi

    I just want to THANK YOU to Peg.

    I am an African and black so don't jump to America favorite screaming of racism.
    The best skill a leader should have is the ability to negotiate with opponent, Bill Clinton is masterful at it and hence was a good leader. It is leaned with experience. Obama lack that basic skill, still inexperienced, and that is why he has not and probably will not be a good leader. Learn a lesson America, it should takes more than just liking person to make him or her a president.

    March 1, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. kiwisepp

    For today's situation, a dictator is better for the US. our democracy is a jork

    March 1, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. Gwiaz

    "... if any of these cataclysms do come to pass, then they will be mostly Mr. Obama's own creation. The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom." Wall Street Journal Feb. 26th.

    The President has authority over the selection of sequester (his idea) cuts. But, he has travelled around the country, repeating and relishing his frightening predictions and accusations that do nothing but harm and divide the country.

    March 1, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  17. jane

    @us slave: 'ending school after age 11'? Really? You realize if we did that we'd be a nation full of uneducated, mean spirited idiots like you..... America deserves better.

    March 1, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Eli

    Just to address the republitards concerned about the 2% increase. This was part of a temorary decrease designed to stimulate the economy. He gave you a 2% break for several years so be thankful.

    March 1, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. wildbill

    Yes,you are adictator.a dictator is somebody that makes his people do something they do not want to do.or else!!!

    March 1, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. eatabiteofpeachpie

    The Gerrymandering of the south was forced by democrats in the early 90s. They wanted to Gerrymander districts so that black voters could elect black leaders. The by-product was heavy democrat districts which by default created heavy Republican districts. Duhhhhh! There ain't no free lunch. You can't tilt the scales one way and expect the status quo.

    March 1, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. ColdWarVet

    I was watching a history channel episode on the Rise of Fascism and what Hhitler, Mussolinni, Franco and Stalin (Communism is Fascism only on the left) did is very similar to what Obama and his puppet Eric Himmler Holder is doing. Making things illegal for the good of the public. Banning speech that disagrees under the guise of hate speech. I wonder how Barry would look in a mustache?

    March 1, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. CryBabies

    President Obama.....This "Whaaaa" is for you,

    March 1, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. RD

    Comparing "bad" and "worse" doesn't make either any better.

    Obama has no idea what his role actually is – that's the problem. Anyone who whips out so many Executive Orders late on Friday afternoons has something he wants to "dictate" to others – without conversation.

    March 1, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Vic

    87% of Americans consider the word Republican to be synonymous with greed, racism, and violence. I'll add uneducated monsters.

    March 1, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Chalupa

    I guess this is plausible denial. Were his lips moving when he said it?

    March 1, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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