Seven years ago, in April 2004, President George W. Bush held a formal news conference in which he was asked, “What would your biggest mistake be…and what lessons have you learned from it?” Bush’s hemming and hawing answer — in several minutes of flailing about, he never managed to come up with a single mistake to cite — was widely criticized in the days that followed.
Well, guess who basically gave the same answer to that question? Here’s a hint: He has big ears, an enormous ego, and he screwed up CONSTANTLY over the last two years. He’s also ALREADY on the campaign trail for the 2012 election where he couldn’t come up with any mistakes.
On Wednesday, President Obama held a town hall at the headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto, California, during which he was asked, “If you had to do anything differently during your first four years, what would it be?” Obama, it turns out, is no better at analyzing his own missteps than Bush.
The president began his response haltingly, pointing out that he has actually been in office just two and a half years, and “I’m sure I’ll make more mistakes in the next year and a half.” But what mistakes has he already made? “There are all sorts of day-to-day issues where I say to myself, oh, I didn’t say that right, or I didn’t explain this clearly enough,” Obama said, “or maybe if I had sequenced this plan first as opposed to that one, maybe it would have gotten done quicker.”
But the president mentioned no actual mistakes. Next, he brought up the health care battle, not to admit error but to praise the work of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in pushing the national health care bill through Congress. The fight got pretty complicated, Obama said, “and I’ve asked myself sometimes is there a way that we could have gotten it done more quickly and in a way that the American people wouldn’t have been so frustrated by it?” Was that possibly a mistake? Obama quickly excused himself. “I’m not sure I could have because there’s a reason why it hadn’t gotten done in a hundred years,” the president explained. “It’s hard to fix a system as big as health care and as complicated as our health care system.” After a good bit of talking, Obama still had not mentioned any mistake or anything he would do differently.
At that point, Obama decided to steer away from the subject of mistakes altogether.
Don’t worry. Give him a few days, he’ll get a follow-up question, and then he can say he cooperated with Republicans too much or that he worries that he cares too much about people.
PS: My biggest mistake over the last two years? I think it was working too hard for the good of the American people.