Noting President Obama’s penchant for reporterly behavior, NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep asks the president, during a recent interview, to apply his interview skills to another group of Americans: the 2016 presidential candidates.
“If you had an opportunity to ask a question to the people who want your job,” begins Inskeep, “which maybe you could. One of these debates you could write in on Facebook and ask your question. What would you ask?”
President Obama’s question for that question is: Why?
I might just ask somebody, why do you want to do this? And I suppose they’d give a cliché answer because that’s what candidates do, but I will tell you as president, if you are interested just because you like the title or you like the trappings or you like the power or the fame or the celebrity, that side of it wears off pretty quick. At least it has for me.
We dig the implicit, fairly universal, probably eternal critique of politicking embedded in Obama’s “I suppose they’d give a cliche answer because that’s what candidates do” quip. And in addition to the warnings for glory-grabbers, status-seekers, and the power hungry, there’s one for fearmongers:
I don’t think this country works best on fear. I don’t think this country works best on hate. I don’t think this country works best on cynicism. I think this country works best on community and hope and optimism and dynamism and change.
If you are aspiring to this job then you need to ask yourself some very serious questions about why you’re doing it because that’s what’s going to keep you going on those days that things aren’t going so well.
This was the most recently published part of an, as ever, “wide-ranging” interview with the president Inskeep conducted earlier this month.
Clip of the president’s full answer is below.