Dec. 7: President-elect Barack Obama - Meet the Press | NBC News
Transcript of the September 7, broadcast of NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Oprah did come out for Barack Obama, did have him on the show. Do you .. You still not--cannot fly an Iraqi flag up there unless you get permission. We have noticed that the President began sporting the traditional US Flag pin on his from a Meet The Press program that aired on NBC on September 7, Then-Senator Barack Obama said on "Meet The Press" in , "As I've said Obama supposedly said this on the September 7, airing of.
The image on the right was taken of President Obama delivering a weekly address on January 24, Notice the US Flag pinned to his left lapel. Obama Explains his Failure to Salute eRumor: It is true that Obama was photographed at a campaign event in Iowa failing to hold his hand over his heart in salute of the flag during the National Anthem.
But this particular eRumor, which quotes him as saying that the American flag is " It's satire, not an actual quote from Obama. Other versions of this eRumor have been circulating the Internet including one popular variation about an account from a Meet The Press program that aired on NBC on September 7, During the interview U.
S, Air Force Retired General Bill Ginn allegedly asked candidate Obama why he did not follow proper protocol and salute the flag during the playing the national anthem. This is also fiction. There were prerecorded videos of Obama on the program.
That's a process being worked out now, how to mechanically do that. But no, no, I think, I think Hillary's going to play a major role here. She's a major force in not only a Democratic Party, she's a major force in American politics. Side by side with Barack Obama and you, or will they go independently? My guess is all three. My guess is we'll occasionally be side by side with me, with Barack, and I imagine independently as well.
As you know, earlier in the campaign, Barack Obama said that he would be willing to appear in town halls, a proposition put forth by John McCain, go around the country, appear two, three times a week in different venues, and then he decided not to. He wanted to confine it to just three debates. Those numbers that we just referred to, 38 million people watching Senator Obama, 39 million watching McCain, 38 million watching Governor Palin the other night, that is an indication this country is really tuned in in a way that I can't remember maybe since Why not have town halls?
Well, that's a little above my pay grade, to use the phrase. I mean, it's a decision the campaign made before I got on the campaign, before I was picked, but Do you think it's a good idea?
But--no, I think, I think you're going to learn more from having--look, you just got finished pointing out how many people watched this. I think those debates that are going to take place, the three critical debates between the two nominees, are going to be the most watched debates in the history of American politics, and I think people are going to get everything they need out of those debates, plus they're going to have an opportunity to--look, another reason why, in my view--I can't speak for the campaign, because I haven't gotten into--I mean, I just got on the ticket--is that, you know, we have a different focus.
For example, I'm headed to--we think we can win Montana. Now, you know, they'd like very much to not, not spend a lot of time in Montana and Virginia and another 12 states or so that were Republican states we think we can compete in and win.
And so when you decide on doing, you know, a campaign, a town hall, you know, every week, what you do, you significantly constrain your ability to get to places where Democratic candidates haven't spent much time before.
Let's talk about some issues. Let's begin with Iraq if we can. There was an enlightening exchange this past week between Senator Obama at the top of the ticket and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, talking about the surge, which has been a point of contention in this debate.
Bill O'Reilly said, "Why can't you acknowledge that the surge was a success. Bill, what I've said is, I've already said, it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, which is Right, so why can't you just say, "I was right in the beginning and I was wrong about the surge"?
Because there is an underlying problem with what we've done. We have reduced the violence He is talking about political reconciliation, but he also said that it has succeeded beyond anyone's expectations.
This was your take on the surge at that time, so let's listen to that, Senator. He may be the only one who believes that. Virtually no one else believes it's a good idea. It's not a victory, as Senator Lindsey Graham said the other night Or as John McCain said. Or John McCain said, but the conditions are in place, and Anbar province, where you have been, where there had been so much difficulty, the Iraqis now have taken over that province.
We have brigades that have Sunnis and Shia serving side by side But it's a process, and it's beginning, and the surge made that possible, did it not? The surge helped make that--what made is possible in Anbar province is they did what I'd suggested two and a half years ago: They turned over and they said to the Sunnis in Anbar province, "We promise you, don't worry, you're not going to have any Shia in here.
There's going to be no national forces in here. We're going to train your forces to help you fight al-Qaeda. The awakening was not an awakening by us, it was an awakening of the Sunnis in Anbar province willing to fight.
Cooperating with the Shia. Cooperating with--no, they weren't cooperating with Shiite. They didn't cooperate with the Shiites. Once the awakening got under way. No, they didn't cooperate with the Shiites. It's still--it's a big problem, Tom. You got--we're paying bucks a month to each of those guys. Now the problem has been and the, and the promise was made by Maliki that they would be integrated into the overall military. That's a process that is beginning in fits and starts now, but it's far from over.
Far from--look, the bottom line here is that it's--let's--the surge is over. Here's the real point.
'Meet the Press' transcript for Dec. 7, 2008
Whether or not the surge worked is almost irrelevant now. We're in a new deal. What is the administration doing? They're doing what Barack Obama has suggested over 14 months ago, turn responsibility over and draw down our troops. We're about to get a deal from the president of the United States and Maliki, the head of the Iraqi government, that's going to land on my desk as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying we're going to set a timeline to draw down our forces.
The only guy in America out of step is John McCain. John McCain's saying no timeline. They've signed on to Barack Obama's proposal. But the surge helped make that timeline possible, did it not? Well, it did help make it possible. But it's not the reason. Look, they also--take a look at the analysis, Tom. They say the reason why there's such success against the, the insurgency is because of now small, very well trained counterinsurgency units.
It's not the numbers, it's the type of units that are in there. What I was arguing about before was we have the wrong units in there. We have the wrong kind of force in there. We weren't focused on counterinsurgency.
And so look--but, but, but the bottom line is we can argue about whether the surge was good, bad or indifferent. Let's assume it was all good. The truth of the matter is, what do we do now?
What's John McCain going to do when he's president? He says he will not sign on to a timeline, number one. Number two, he has no, no idea, no suggestion how he's going to deal with the neighbors. He has no idea how he's going to deal with Iraq. He has no idea how he's going to deal with Syria. He has no idea how he's going to deal with Turkey. We have laid out a clear plan. But two years ago you were the principal author, along with Les Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, of an entirely different kind of plan.
You were promoting heavily the idea of a confederation, or a partition. That's exact--not, not a partition.
Obama Explains National Anthem Stance?
You guys keep saying that. It was never a partition. Or the--we'll make it a confederation. That's what it was. But the--but terms of real political terms, it would quickly become a partition. Absolutely, positively not true. You think that the Kurds in the north and the, and the, and the Sunnis and the Shia would just say, "Oh, we can all get across--get together across lines," without having a prescription There was a central government that had power, but there was more power given to the localities like exist right now.
Tom, tell me, what's changed up among, among the Kurds? You still not--cannot, under the Iraqi constitution, send an Iraqi army up there. You still not--cannot fly an Iraqi flag up there unless you get permission. Tell me what's happened in Anbar province. It is de facto exactly what I said. Everything that's working in Iraq has been the bottom up approach, not a strong central government imposing.
And the truth of the matter is the only way you're going to make this--sustain it, the question is, how do we leave and leave a stable Iraq behind? Without a political settlement, Tom, we're going to be back there in another year or two or three or five.
But are you encouraged they're moving toward a political settlement? Yes, I am encouraged, because they're doing the things I suggested. They're localizing it, Tom. That's why it is moving toward some mild possibility of a resolution. And if you were to now follow up--if John McCain as president, would follow up like we will as president and say, "OK, how do you get the rest of the neighborhood in the deal? And every--you know, this talk about how this has been such a great success, look where we are now in the Middle East.
You now have a Shia-dominated government close to Iran. When Ahmadinejad comes, he kisses him on both cheek and seeks permission. So give me a break about how this is such a great political success. We have the bravest soldiers in the world. I said at the time of the surge, if we sent introops we could tamp this down immediately, shut it down and end all violence.
But that would not solve the problem. What do we do when we leave? And that's the hard work, and that requires the region as well. And you don't hear a word from John about that--John McCain. You don't hear a word from Sarah Palin about that. But you do now from the administration.
The administration's now signing on to Barack Obama's plan to set a timeline, to--not the exact plan, but to set a timeline to draw down American troops. Five years from now, do you think Iraq will have relative stability and democratic principles in a central government?
If there is an Obama-Biden administration, yeah. If there is a John McCain administration and Sarah Palin, I think it's probably not going to happen, because John does not view this in terms of the region.
I never heard him speak about how he's going to integrate Iraq into the region where you have these competing interests that exist. And I, I, I just--now, John may have an idea. I've never heard it. And by the way, that Biden proposal, 75 senators voted for it, including the majority of the Republican Party.
But the Iraqi government didn't like the idea. Well, the Iraqi government--Maliki didn't, but the rest of the government liked it. But he is the head of the government.
Yeah--by the way, it is their country, but he's the head of the government, but he's the head of the government whose popularity is very much in question, and the election itself. You had a whole lot of people--look, here's going to be the key, Tom. During the course of the campaign, you suggested a three-month moratorium. Is that still part of the policy that you would like to have begun when you become president of the United States?
And what else needs to be done to do something about mortgages? Well, I, I'm having my team examine all the options that are out there. I'm disappointed that we haven't seen quicker movement on this issue by the administration. And we have said publicly and privately that we want to see a package that helps homeowners not just because it's good for that particular homeowner, it's good for the community.
When you have foreclosures, property values decline and you get a downward spiral all across America. It's also good for the financial system because keep in mind how this financial system became so precarious in the first place. You, you had a huge amount of debt, a huge amount of other people's money that was being lent, and speculation was taking place on--based on these home mortgages.
And if we can strengthen those assets, then that will strengthen the financial system as a whole.
Obama and the Flag
So I think a moratorium on foreclosures remains an important tool, an important option. I think we also should be working to figure out how we can get banks and homeowners to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages so that they are sustainable.
The vast majority of people who are at threat of foreclosure are still making monthly payments, they want to stay in their homes, they want to stay in their communities, but the strains are enormous. And if we can relieve some of that stress, long term it's going to be better for the banks, it's going to be certainly better for the community, it's going to be better for our economy as a whole.
This is going to be a top priority of my administration. Have you personally conveyed your disappointment to the administration or had your economic advisers get in touch with Hank Paulson and say, "Why aren't you doing more about mortgages?
We, we have specifically said that, moving forward, we have to have a housing component to any actions that we take. If we are only dealing with Wall Street and we're not dealing with Main Street, then we're only handling one-half of the problem. And finally, what about those homeowners out there who are struggling to do the responsible thing, to pay their mortgages?
And now they look across the street and the neighbor may be getting bailed out. So they feel they're the victim of a double whammy. They're paying their taxes to bail out the guy across the street and struggling to pay their mortgages.
Why wouldn't they just take a walk on their mortgage and say, "I want in on that"? Well, look, that, that's one of the tricky things that we've got to figure out how to structure. We don't want what you just described, a moral hazard problem where you have incentive to act irresponsibly. But, you know, if my neighbor's house is on fire, even if they were smoking in the bedroom or leaving the stove on, right now my main incentive is to put out that fire so that it doesn't spread to my house.
And I think most people recognize that even if there were some poor decisions made by home buyers, that right now our biggest incentive is to make sure that the housing market is strengthened. I do think that we have to put in place a set of rules of the road, some financial regulations that prevent the kind of speculation and leveraging, that we saw, in the future.
Advertise And so, as part of our economic recovery package, what you will see coming out of my administration right at the center is a strong set of new financial regulations in which banks, ratings agencies, mortgage brokers, a whole bunch of folks start having to be much more accountable and behave much more responsibly because we can't put ourselves--we, we can't create the kind of systemic risks that we're creating right now, particularly because everything is so interdependent.
We've got to have transparency, openness, fair dealing in our financial markets. And that's an area where I think, over the last eight years, we've fallen short.
President-elect, we're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about taxes, the fallout from Mumbai, obviously, Iraq and Afghanistan. More of our exclusive interview yesterday in Chicago with President-elect Barack Obama after this brief station break. We're back with President-elect Obama. We want to talk about taxes. That was a central piece of your campaign. Here's what you had to say. We need to roll back the Bush-McCain tax cuts and invest in things like health care that are really important.
Instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthy, who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, we should be putting a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working families.
Sept. 7: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Tom Friedman - Meet the Press | NBC News
Have the economic conditions changed what you hoped to do about taxes? Is that your plan? Well, understand what my original tax plan was. It was a net tax cut. Ninety-five percent of working families would get tax relief. To help pay for that, people like you and me, Tom, who make more than a quarter million dollars a year, would play--pay slightly more. We'd essentially go back to the tax rates that existed back in the s.
My economic team right now is examining do we repeal that through legislation? Do we let it lapse so that when the Bush tax cuts expire they're not renewed when it comes to wealthiest Americans? And we don't yet know what the best approach is going to be, but the overall thrust is going to be that 95 percent of working families are going to get a tax cut, and the wealthiest Americans, who disproportionately benefited not only from tax cuts from the Bush administration but also disproportionately benefited when it comes to corporate profits and where the gains and productivity were going, they are going to give up a little bit more.
And it turns out that But right away or ? Well, as I said, my economic team's taking a look at this right now. But, but I think the important principle--because sometimes when we start talking about taxes and I say I want a more balanced tax code, people think, well, you know, that's class warfare.
It, it turns out that our economy grows best when the benefits of the economy are most widely spread. And that has been true historically. And, you know, the real aberration has been over the last 10, 15 years in which you've seen a huge shift in terms of resources to the wealthiest and the vast majority of Americans taking home less and less.
Their incomes, their wages have flatlined at a time that costs of everything have gone up, and we've actually become a more productive society.
So what we want to do is actually go back to what has been the traditional pattern. We have a broad-based middle class, economic growth from the bottom up.
That, I think, will be the recipe for everybody doing better over the long term. Your vice president, Joe Biden, said during the course of this campaign it would be patriotic for the wealthy to pay more in taxes. In this economy, does he still believe that? Well, I--you know, I think what Joe meant is exactly what I described, which is that if, if our entire economic policy is premised on the notion that greed is good and "What's in it for me," it turns out that that's not good for anybody.
It's not good for the wealthy, it's not good for the poor, and it's not good for the vast majority in the middle. If we've learned anything from this current financial crisis--think about how this evolved. You had a situation in which you started seeing home foreclosures rise. You had a middle class that was vulnerable and couldn't make payments. Suddenly, all the borrowing that had been--and, and, and all the speculation that had been premised on those folks doing OK, that starts evaporating.
Next thing you know, you've got Lehman Brothers going under. People used to think that, well, there, there's no connection between those two things. It turns out that when we all do well, then the economy, as a whole, is going to benefit. I want to move now to international affairs, the war on terror. Obviously, we have all been stunned by what happened in India at Mumbai. It is still playing out in that part of the world. You have said that the United States reserves the right to go after terrorists in Pakistan if you have targets of opportunity.
Does India now also have that right of hot pursuit? Well, I'm not going to comment on that. What, what I'm going to restate is a basic principle. Number one, if a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself. I think that's universally acknowledged. The second thing is that we need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region--Pakistan and India and the Afghan government--to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community.
And, as I've said before, we can't continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran. And part of the kind of foreign policy I want to shape is one in which we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number one threat against U. And that's al-Qaeda and, and, and their various affiliates, and we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come.
President Zardari of Pakistan has said that he expects you to re-examine the American policy of using unmanned missiles for attacks on terrorist camps in Pakistan; and there have been civilian casualties in those attacks as well. Are you re-examining that policy? Well, I--what I want to do is to create the kind of effective, strategic partnership with Pakistan that allows us, in concert, to assure that terrorists are not setting up safe havens in some of these border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
So far President Zardari has sent the right signals. He's indicated that he recognizes this is not just a threat to the United States, but it is a threat to Pakistan as well.
There was a bombing in Pakistan just yesterday that killed scores of people, and so you're seeing greater and greater terrorist activity inside of Pakistan. I think this democratically-elected government understands that threat, and I hope that in the coming months that we're going to be able to establish the kind of close, effective, working relationship that makes both countries safer. That part of the world is such a hot zone. Is it going to be necessary for you to appoint some kind of a special envoy to worry only about South Asia with presidential authority?
I have enormous confidence in Senator Clinton's ability to rebuild alliances and to send a strong signal that we're going to do business differently and place an emphasis on diplomacy. Let's talk for a moment about Iraq. It was a principal--it was one of the principals in the organization of your campaign at the beginning.
A lot of people voted for you because they thought you would bring the war in Iraq to an end very swiftly.
Here is what you had to say on July 3rd of this year about what you would do once you took office. I intend to end this war.
My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war responsibly, deliberately, but decisively. When does the drawdown of American troops begin and when does it end in Iraq? Well, one of my first acts as president, once I'm sworn in, will be to bring in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to bring in my national security team, and design a plan for a responsible drawdown.