President Barack Obama’s interview with David Letterman Tuesday may provide a bonanza of campaign material for the Mitt Romney campaign. Letterman led off with the hard-hitting question “How much do you weigh?” before getting into even harder-hitting questions, such as “Would you like to say something to the empty chair?” That exchange was an obvious set-up to gig Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention.
After spending a few minutes discussing the Democratic convention and the First Lady, Letterman then exposed his ignorance and Obama’s dishonesty at the same time.
“Here’s what I found troubling [at the Republicans' convention]…They had the clock, the debt countdown clock and, I mean, this thing is going like crazy and it’s several trillion dollars. Now, what is that?” Letterman asked.
Obama responded with a selective edit of government spending, accusing his predecessor of choosing to “launch two wars” (the United States was attacked on 9-11-01, and responded). After that, Letterman asked for a hard debt figure: “Now, do you remember what that number was? Was it $10 trillion?”
“I don’t remember what the number was precisely,” the president said.
The President of the United States claimed that he did not know, even to the round number of $16 trillion, how much debt the nation is in.
Is that not a reason, all by itself, to vote him out of the job?
Letterman asked if Americans should be scared of the size of the debt, and Obama allowed that it is a problem long-term and medium-term, but not short term. The size of the debt and the government’s failure to respond to it has already caused two downgrades of the US credit rating, and threats of more downgrades to follow. Prior to Obama’s term, American credit had never been downgraded.
Later in the interview, Obama called for even more government spending. He called it “investing,” but it was a call to spend more money on roads, bridges and other government projects. His 2009 stimulus package was sold to the American public as just such spending. Obama also promised to shut down government programs that don’t work. He made an identical promise as a candidate in 2008, but has never followed up on it as president.
The Washington Post’s Eric Wemple gives Obama a bit of a pass for refusing to say the national debt figure, writing “No daylight for the fact-checkers there: Since the debt is moving so fast, precise recollections are all but impossible.”
$16 trillion is a perfectly acceptable round figure to use. Until we hit $17 trillion, anyway.
In 2008, then Sen. Obama knew precisely what the national debt figure was. He used it to accuse President George W. Bush of being “unpatriotic.”
Here is the president’s complete Letterman interview.