“I inhaled — that was the point.”
That was what Illinois Senator Barack Obama, currently on a book tour that may or may not segue into a run for the 2008 presidency, said to New Yorker editor David Remnick this afternoon at the American Magazine Conference, after Remnick asked Obama whether or not his admission of drug use in the book would become problematic if he does, if fact, run for president.
The softspoken Obama, who during an appearance on Meet The Press yesterday admitted he would consider a run for the White House, openly criticized the Bush administration in front of 500 or so magazine executives during a wide-ranging, 45-minute discussion, occasionally with Remnick’s prodding. “This is the most ideologically driven administration in my memory, so obstinate in resisting facts, dissenting opinions … [They entered the White House] with a set of preconcieved notions.” Obama said. “I think this administration has done great damage to this country.”
“I wouldn’t fit in with this administration [because I think] actually being informed is a good basis for policy,” Obama said to laughter. “OK, that’s a low-blow.”
Obama was particularly critical of the war in Iraq. “We’ve used up so much political capital [in Iraq],” adding that it is “going to take the current military the same amount of time it took the military to recover from Vietnam.”
After some lighthearted grilling, Obama said Remnick “sounds nicer in his columns, but turns out to be somewhat of a prickly guy.”
Remnick, who at this point could be considered the President of the United States of Magazines, forced Obama to address the topic of religion. “It’s not ‘faith’ if you are absolutely certain,” Obama said, noting that he didn’t believe his lack of “faith” would hurt him a national election. “Evolution is more grounded in my experience than angels.”
Throughout the interview, Obama expressed doubt about his willingness to put his family through the scrutiny of a presidential race. “My wife would be leading the bandwagon for me to be running for president … if I was married to someone else.”
When asked if the White House would be a plac e worth inheriting in 2009, Obama said, “There are a lot of problems to clean up, and nopt a lot of resources to work with.” He added that the first agenda of a new president should be to “stabilize and extricate ourselves” from Iraq.
FishbowlNY will be blogging live this week from the American Magazine Conference — the annual pow-wow of high-powered magazine executives — at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. Check back often for our extended coverage.
FishbowlNY’s AMC 2006 Coverage: