Obama Does Leno


obama-leno1The economy, his first few months as commander-in-chief and that promise that he made to his daughters about a dog – President Barack Obama talked about all of that in his taped appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight. Becoming the first sitting president to sit on the couch of the late-night comedic talk show, Obama devoted much of his talk to the nation’s economic ills.The president addressed the AIG bonuses.

“People just had this general attitude of entitlement,” Obama told host Jay Leno. “The immediate bonuses that went to AIG were a problem, but we have to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough. If we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we’re going to be OK.”

Obama’s helicopter landed at Dodger Stadium early this afternoon and his motorcade delivered him to Burbank for the 4 p.m. PDT taping.

Obama last appeared on the show as a candidate – just as John F. Kennedy sat with Jack Paar on the Tonight Show set in the 1960 campaign.

What’s different since the campaign?

“I asked Secret Service (in Costa Mesa), ‘Why don’t we walk over there?'” Obama said. “They said, ‘Sir, that’s 750 yards.’

“They let me walk on the way back, but the doctor’s behind me with the defibrillator,” the president said. “Michelle jokes about how we have the ambulance, then the caboose, then the dog sled, then the submarine.”

Leno raised that campaign promise of Obama’s – that daughters Sasha and Malia could have a dog if he won election to the White House.

“This is Washington. That was a campaign promise,” said Obama, whose search has zeroed in on a Portuguese water dog. “We’re laying the groundwork.”

“Wow,” Leno said of the first pooch-to be. “It’s, what, a Portuguese water head?”

“It’s not that,” Obama said. “It’s not a “water head.”

“Whatever they are,” Leno said, “I don’t know what they are.”

“That sounds like a scary dog,” Obama said of Leno’s suggested variety. “Sort of dripping around the house.”

“I don’t know what it is,” Leno said.

“We’re going to get a dog that is – that I think the girls will have a great time,’ the president said. “I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it. You know, they say if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

On the serious front, the president stood up for his Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who has faced growing criticism for his handling of economic matters.

Geithner is doing an “outstanding job,” Obama said.

Obama told Leno that Geithner is a smart guy handed an incredibly full plate and handling it with grace and good humor.

Obama acknowledged that Geithner is “on the hot seat,” but said too many in Washington are trying to place blame when they should be focused on fixing problems.

On life in the White House, Obama said he is getting a basketball hoop for the mansion’s tennis courts but is in the meantime improving his bowling – a game at which he did not excel during his campaign.

Asked by Leno whether people who played basketball with him allowed him to win now that he’s President, Mr Obama dead-panned: “I don’t see why they would throw the game except for all those Secret Service guys with guns around.”

He confided that he enjoyed traveling on Air Force One.

“I personally think it’s pretty cool,” he said, adding that his kids were “just not as impressed.”

In his opening monologue, Leno lots of people were surprised Obama would come on NBC – figuring he’d be tired of big companies on the brink of disaster with a bunch of overpaid executives.

Leno also joked about the dismal state of the economy, saying it’s so bad Obama flew to California on Southwest Airways – making nine stops.

Obama reacted coolly to a House bill that would use the tax system to try and confiscate nearly all the bonuses paid to American International Group Inc. employees.

It’s important, he said, not to “lurch from thing to thing” in trying to address the nation’s big problems.

“Look, I understand Congress’ frustrations,” he said to Leno.” But he suggested that legislators were being more vindictive than constructive.

“Everybody’s angry… but I think that the best way to handle this is to make sure that you close the door before the horse gets out of the barn. And what happened here was the money’s already gone out, and people are scrambling to try to find ways to get back at them,” he said.

From there, he went on to pitch his long-stated proposals to change the tax code by increasing taxes on all upper-income Americans, specifically families earning more than $250,000 a year and individuals earning more than $200,000 annually.

“The important thing over the next several months is making sure that we don’t lurch from thing to thing, so we try to make steady progress, build a foundation toward long-term economic growth,” he said. “That’s what I think the American people expect.”

Leno was even more negative to the House plan, saying it “kind of scared me.”

“If the government decides they don’t like a guy, all of the sudden hey we’re going to tax you, and, boom, and it passes, that’s seems a little scary,” he said. “It was frightening to me as an American that Congress or whoever could decide I don’t like that group, let’s pass a law and tax them 90 percent.”

Obama traveled to California, a state hard hit by the recession, where unemployment tops 10%, to promote his budget plan and priorities, to tout the impact of the economic stimulus law, and to hear concerns of everyday people.

During his trip, the president has sought to lower the expectations of his adoring fans, saying it will take time to accomplish their goals.

At a town hall meeting in Los Angeles earlier today, he warned an audience anxious over cuts to schools that it will cost money to pay for high-quality education.

The president met a crowd filled with supporters, who cheered nearly every answer he offered. While tickets were distributed online and none of the questioners were preselected, the questions were friendly, sometimes fawning.

“You inspire such a passion,” said one man, who identified himself as a campaign volunteer. “How can we best partner with you?”

The president replied that what he needs first is patience. He noted the excitement generated during the presidential campaign and then said: “We are moving systematically to bring about change but change is hard; change doesn’t happen overnight.”

He cited his decision to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said that it won’t be simple because the administration must figure out how to balance national security needs and civil liberty concerns.

“It’s not something that happens overnight,” he said. “We have to do it systematically.”

It is necessary to aid troubled banks, he added, despite the outrage over bonuses paid to employees of American International Group Inc. “It’s going to cost some money. It’s not going to be pretty,” he said.

And he asked supporters to engage in debates going on in Washington over the budget, energy and other matters.

“We are not always going to be right,” he added. “I don’t want everybody disappointed if we make a mistake here or there.”

In the second town hall meeting he attended in two days, the president heard for a second day complaints about cuts to local schools.

“The state doesn’t have the money and we’re having to lay off thousands of teachers, you know. It’s scary for our children,” said one woman. An eight-year-old boy, smartly dressed in a tie, spoke clearly into the microphone to say: “President Obama, our school is in big trouble because (of) budget cuts. Twenty-five of our teachers already have been fired.”

Obama sought to lower expectations for what the federal government can do to help and said it is up to local communities to prioritize education.

He said the federal government is ramping up education spending but the vast majority of dollars will still come locally and said people need realistic expectations.

“You can’t ask local elected officials to raise teachers’ salaries and cut taxes and balance the budget and increase roads,” he said. “At some point you’ve got to make some choices. So if you want a high quality education … then somebody has got to pay for it.”

In his prepared remarks, Obama suggested his housing plan is already helping, saying there has been a “burst of refinancing” that is lowering mortgage payments for many homeowners. He also announced a new Web site, www.makinghomeaffordable.gov, where borrowers can check if they qualify for federal assistance in modifying the terms of their mortgages.

He was introduced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and it was hard to tell that the two men hailed from opposing political parties. The governor recounted the benefits to California of the stimulus package and gave the president credit for making it happen.

“This is the greatest package. I’m so happy to be getting these kind of benefits from the federal government and President Obama,” Schwarzenegger said.

Obama called the governor an “outstanding partner” and “one of the great innovators of state government.”

{News Agencies & Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter, and D. Gross-Matzav.com LA}



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here