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.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail

  • Your Comments

    • FluffyMcNutter

      I am torn whether to use RD for a birdcage or the kitty litter liner…
      What an “interview”! What hard probing questions! Economy? BengaziGate? Radical past? Why bother. The President has been empirically proven to be a racist, antisemite, heterophobe, socialist and America-hater. There is no proof of his Christian faith, devotion to his family or to the members of he military. Shame on RD.

    • Gust

      More smoke and mirrors from the Liar in Chief.

    • Gust

      More smoke and mirrors from the Liar in Chief.

    • Gest


    • Egesa2005

      This is a great interview that portrays the American president, Barack Obama, as a man who loves family relationships and who is interested in the development of the American people. I believe he is still the right man for the USA.

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

        Wow, your sick!

    • Yousuf Panawala

      I don’t like people who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I like Barack Obama who is a self made person who rose to great heights. He knows the plight of the common men and Americans should elect him and he should get Bipartisan support in his  second term to enable him to achieve his aim of getting America out of recession and also to implement his Healthcare policy which is for the common men especially senior citizens.

      • NJ Mike

        Excuse me? He never did a THING on his own……from Grandmom the Bank VP to AA to being the puppet for Jarrett the man is a sloth!!
        The man hates America and nothing you say, or lie will change that fact.

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

        Self made are you serious.  He was bought and paid for by the communists, fool.

    • AZ Jan 22

      Mahalo Mr. President…. you are a great person and so is your family and this country needs you.

    • rose hall

      just the man for our country now..anyone else would cause great heartbreak for the American people

    • http://www.facebook.com/musa.shehu.336 Musa Shehu

      RD, best as always. You never disappoint. Would have love to find out from President Obama what got into him at the first Presidential debate; it was heart wrenching to see Mitt Romney having a field day over the President on that day. The President looked mumuyish on that day. Oh my God. It was too difficult and embarrassing to those of us were rooting for Obama. Hope thursday will be different if not blame Obama if Romney wins the White House with his mathematically impossible budget and vouchers for the elderly in Medicare.

      • PhyllisFerris

        He said he had a very bad day.  Remember all the things that happened. Turkey hid Syria that morning. Several of our consulates were under seige. Four people dead and White House Services for them, talking with families. Also, in the middle of  his campaign. He had been travelling all day and got into Denver at two debated at 9 p.m.  I believe what Al Gore said about altitude illness because I have experienced that illness as a young person when I travelled to Denver to snow ski. You need to rest and adjust the first day and then take care of business the second day.  It makes a person nausaus, bad headaches and gives you a feeling of total  exhaustion. It takes about a day to recoup from it.  It blows my mind that people don’t understand what all was happening with him during that time.

    • Matt

      What a classy and graceful man.