Oh, boy. It's gonna be a fun eight years if president Obama keeps giving interview answers like these.
First, he confuses and confounds conservatives by doing pretty much what he said he would do when he was just candidate Obama. (Somehow, that, plus his margin of victory, and approval rating don't suggest to them that he's also doing what people elected him to do.)
But his additional answers to a New York Times interview are likely to cause a few fits on the right.
On a flight from Ohio to Washington on Friday, Obama was asked whether his domestic policies suggested that he was a socialist, as some conservatives have implied.
"The answer would be no," he said, laughing for a moment before defending his administration for "making some very tough choices" on the budget.
As the interview progressed, Obama never returned to the question. When he called, he said he had been thinking about it as he boarded the helicopter taking him back to the White House.
"It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question," Obama said from the Oval Office.
I can only hope the next time he gets such a vacuous question, he's not too stunned or shuts it down as he did another question.
Obama has always sought to avoid being defined by labels, presenting himself as open to ideas from the left and the right. Asked to describe his philosophy in a word, he said, "No, I'm not going to engage in that."
But his stinging criticism of the previous administration sounds like a man who knows we probably haven't found the real messes the Bush administration left us with.
"It wasn't under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks," Obama said. "And it wasn't on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement, the prescription drug plan, without a source of funding."
He added, "We've actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles, and some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can't say the same."
...Obama pushed back against that characterization in the phone call and, in the process, issued one of the sharpest critiques that he has directed toward the Bush administration.
"By the time we got here, there already had been an enormous infusion of taxpayer money into the financial system," he said, adding, "The fact that we've had to take these extraordinary measures and intervene is not an indication of my ideological preference, but an indication of the degree to which lax regulation and extravagant risk-taking has precipitated a crisis."
Can't you just hear the popping sound of heads exploding on the right? Speaking of which, popcorn would make watching this show even better.
Mr. President, more like this, please.