RD Interview: President Barack Obama

During a relaxed conversation with Reader’s Digest editor Liz Vaccariello, the president opens up about family, faith—and his favorite word.

from Reader's Digest Magazine | November 2012

RD Interview: President Barack ObamaCourtesy Pete Souza/The White House
Reader’s Digest: You write a book about your first term as president. What’s the title?

President Obama: Wow! It always takes me a long time to think of [book] titles. It’s just like thinking of our daughters’ names. I remember we were in the hospital for the first 48 hours trying to figure out, All right, what are we gonna call this one? I think the theme of my first term would have to do with persistence …Somehow I think the title would speak to just sticking with it.

RD: You said you made a mistake early in your presidency by not focusing enough on storytelling. What story would you tell now?

Obama: What I would’ve done better was to prepare the American people for the challenges we are going to be facing, the climbing out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Had I expressed to the American people that we are going to solve these problems, but it’s going to take time … Trying to find that balance between projecting confidence but also letting people know this is gonna be a process. It’s not going to happen instantaneously.

RD: Please finish this sentence for me: “The world needs the next president to …”

Obama: … grow the American economy. Because when the American economy is growing, the world economy is growing along with it.

RD: Let’s talk about family. What did you say to Sasha and Malia the night that Osama bin Laden was killed?

Obama: They knew enough about bin Laden and 9/11, even though Sasha was three months old when it happened. I was able to explain to them that the person who planned 9/11 was killed by our forces. I think what was most important was to explain to them what that meant for young people like them who had lost mothers and fathers in the Twin Towers or in the Pentagon or in Pennsylvania. Describing that for Malia and Sasha makes it personal. It made them understand what it would mean for them to lose a parent in a terrible way like that.

  • Your Comments

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    • Pat Melau

      This is a great article.  Well done RD.  President Obama we need you to finish the job.  You have my vote. 

    • PhyllisFerris

      This is a great interview.  Only the truth can be told so effortlessly as it was in this interview.  He will get my vote for another four years.

    • http://www.healthcare-consulting.com/hci.html Terry Brauer

      The 2nd Debate inspires me to hope that the 3rd Debate’s moderator will ask hard ball  questions and correct misstatements … like in the days of real journalism. The public needs to understand that the rehearsed answers and formats of the debates to date fail to provide voters with in-depth insights into how candidates will formulate public policy and why a President must relay Congress to get progressive policies into law. I doubt that most voters ever heard of, for example, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which allows people without insurance and with pre-existing conditions to purchase coverage with low deductibles at premium costs far below the commercial insurance products.  It is funded in part by the federal government. Another Example: What Romney chastised as a board designed to ration care and the GOP right-wing has labeled ‘Death Panels’ is actually a Payment Advisory Board designed to encourage physicians to utilize evidenced-based medicine to improve medical outcomes and to abandon excessive, unnecessary and expensive procedures of no value to patients. Absent opportunities to explain the whys behind the whats of public policy, voters are vulnerable to being misled and/or confused about the real benefits of public policy.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UZEYM7GOD4ANTXVRCI57J5JQYI David

      Wow, didn’t know RD was an obama suck  up like the rest of the media.  Disgusting and disgraceful.  Where’s the Romney interview?  Too bad I can’t cancel, never bought this rag.

    • sheeplenot

      Once again mainstream media denying us a true democrasy, by only discussing the 2 leas desirable, but most owned candidates. We need to hear from all who are running.