President Obama Does Take Some Challenging Questions, But Leaves Many Aside
from the too-bad dept
We already noted that President Obama did his Google Hangout today, and surprisingly admitted that patent trolls are a problem. It’s worth noting that he did actually get some directly challenging questions, including about gun control, immigration and a lack of transparency (especially on drones). Oh, and also about whether or not we should still have a penny (President Obama: “I don’t know!”). That last one was actually the most popular question that people voted on, as compiled by Derek Khanna over at Townhall.com.
President Obama more or less avoided the question about drones — other than to insist that no drones had been used to target people in the US and that the rules were different elsewhere. He also continued to insist that his administration is the most transparent in history, thanks to things like the White House visitor logs being released publicly. That, of course, is just one small part of transparency, and it’s clear that the administration is absolutely failing on a number of different transparency issues (and is notably horrible at responding to Freedom of Information Act requests).
What’s disappointing, though, is that many of the other top questions in that list didn’t get asked (including the question about copyright issues that we’d mentioned, despite being the 8th most popular question by votes). Obviously, there is only a limited amount of time, and I actually think that Obama did a reasonably good job in actually responding to the questions asked with a bit more depth than I expected. It still wasn’t that deep, but it wasn’t nearly as superficial as I expected. And, at the very least, it gave a chance for him to hear some pointed questions on these issues. Hopefully, he decides to do this more than once a year, so that some of these other questions can actually be asked.
As a side note, I saw some people complain about the final questions which were more “personal” in nature, though I didn’t think it was that bad. Yes, perhaps you could argue that it took time away from some of those serious questions, but there is something to be said for at least allowing a bit of personality to come through in these discussions. I thought the most amusing part, though, was that when John Green (of Vlogbrothers and DFTBA Records) asked the President to help name his expected child, the President refused, joking that if they ruled against him it would upset the child for the rest of their life — but then he did note that they should make sure the child “doesn’t forget to be awesome” (which is what DFTBA stands for). Obviously, he was saving up something about DFTBA, but that was still a nice touch.