Senator Barack Obama talks with Bob Herbert about his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.
Topics include his law school experiences, his experiences as a new U.S. Senator, his opposition to the war in Iraq, the midterm elections, his social activism, and his religious faith. He indicates that he has not ruled out seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. He also answers questions from audience members. This Kennedy Library Forum was held in the Stephen Smith Center at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Boston.
Democrat Barack Obama served in the Illinois state senate from 1997 to 2004 and was elected to the US Senate in 2004. He is also the author of Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.
Bob Herbert is a distinguished senior fellow with Demos and a contributing editor at The American Prospect magazine. From 1993 to 2011, he was an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, writing a twice-weekly column about politics, urban affairs, and social trends. Mr. Herbert’s numerous awards include the American Society of Newspaper Editors Award, the David Nyhan Prize from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, the Meyer Berger Award, and the Ridenhour Courage Prize for the “fearless articulation of unpopular truths."
President Barack Obama
President Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii. Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he ran for United States Senate in 2004. During the campaign, several events brought him to national attention, such as his victory in the March 2004 Democratic primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois as well as his prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.
Obama began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate He and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.
(born Aug. 4, 1961, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.) 44th president of the U.S. (2009 ). Obama graduated from Columbia University (1983) and Harvard Law School (1991), where he was the first African American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review. He moved to Chicago, where he served as a community organizer and lectured in constitutional law at the University of Chicago before he was elected (1996) to the Illinois Senate as a member of the Democratic Party. In 2004 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and quickly became a major national political figure. In 2008 Obama won an upset victory over former U.S. first ladyHillary Clinton to become the Democratic presidential nominee. He easily defeated Republican candidate John McCain and became the first African American president. In 2009 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
For a constitutional law graduate and senator of several years to be able to hold an interview of that length without mentioning one word pertaining to nor in concert with our U.S. Constitution, but rather when asked what he thinks about "what if" he were president... (roughly 38 minutes into this farce) and says nothing but what an oligarchical minded mime might say... I therefore still hold that he is no American citizen.
This man is by far the most intelligent candidate. I appreciate his ability to analyze situations and see all perspectives with little bias while doing so. I recommend everyone read his book; he provides a unique personal insight into what it is like being involved in politics in Washington (especially with his initial experiences in the Senate).
Actually, considering that he's quite a ways to the left of mainstream (far more Kerry truly was, or Clinton is), there's a legitimate argument that Obama might be better off running before his opponents have a voting record to use against him. Anyway, I've also read that research has shown that a candidate's prior experience in government has very little effect on whether or not voters in general support him/her. I'm not sure what that says about voters, exactly, but there you go.
Two weeks ago, Illinois senator Barack Obama told NBC's Tim Russert that he wasconsidering a Presidential run in 2008. Next, he speaks about that. As well as religion,politics, and the war in Iraq. For The New York Times, Bob Herbert.This talk is just over an hour.As a Presidential library, we are proud to attract speakers who are making headlines, butthe headlines this week about tonight's speaker tell us that he may be poised not just tomake news, but to make history. Our guest of honor is on this week's cover of Timemagazine. His name is on the lips of democrats and republicans across the nation and hisnew book, The Audacity of Hope, published this month and now on sale in our bookstore,tells us about a brand-new form of political leadership. It's a great privilege to welcomeSenator Barack Obama to the Kennedy Library.Senator, you are described by the New York Times as, and I quote, "That rare politicianwho can write," and write movingly and genuinely about himself. And your story isextraordinary, as this week's cover article in Time tells us, and I quote, "Senator Obama'sfather was from Kenya, his mother from Kansas, the senator has told the story in brilliant,painful detail in his first book Dreams of My Father, the best-written memoir everproduced by an American politician." And I end quote. A central theme of the book isthat Barack Obama learned from an early age how important it was to bridge the manydivides of the world in which he grew up, which is the same world as the one in which we all live today.At Harvard Law School, he was the first African-American to be elected President of theHarvard Law Review, he was chosen for that prestigious position not only because hewas near the top of his class, but also because he had a unique ability to win overconservative and liberal students alike. As one of his classmates told Time magazine thisweek, "Most of the class were liberals, but there was a growing conservative presence andthere were fights between right and left about almost every issue. Barack won theelection because the conservatives thought he would take their arguments into account."After graduating from law school, Senator Obama entered public service. He started as acommunity organizor and a civil rights attorney in Chicago, representing victims ofemployment and housing discrimination, and teaching constitutional law at the Universityof Chicago. In 1997, he was elected to the Illinois senate, where for the next seven yearshe played a leading role reaching across party lines on difficult issues to achieve results.He forged coalitions of democrats and republicans to help working families, creatingprograms like the state-earned income tax credit that provided over a hundred milliondollars in tax relief for lower and middle income families. He pushed through a bi-partisan expansion of early childhood education, and he worked with law enforcementofficials to enact legislation requiring that all interrogations and confessions in casesinvolving the death penalty, be videotaped. On the national stage, he spoke out earlyagainst the war in Iraq, and he supported the war in Afghanistan.Here in Boston he electrified the Democratic National Convention two years ago in thekeynote address that charted the common ground that unites all Americans. "We worshipan awesome God in the blue states," he said, "And we don't like federal agents pokingaround in our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states andwe've got gay friends in the red states. There is not a Black America and White Americaand Latino America and Asian America, there is the United States of America."Elected in an Illinois landslide to the US Senate in 2004, Senator Obama is now in aposition to project his special brand of political leadership on the national level.Leadership based on consensus-building, not slashing and burning, leadership based onlistening to opposing views, and responding with fact and truth, not destructive distortion.A brand of leadership, I might add, in great demand but very short supply in our politicallife today. Senator, again, it's a great privilege to have you here.To moderate this evening's forum, we're also privileged to have one of our nation'sleading commentators, Bob Herbert, of the New York Times. Bob has been a star, asmany of you know, at other Kennedy Library forums, and we're pleased to welcome himback here tonight. Bob joined the Times as an op-ed columnist in 1993, and twice a weekhe helps us understand what's important in politics and our national life. Bob Herbertbegan his career with the New York Star Ledger, where he became a city editor. Beforejoining the Times, he was a national correspondent for NBC, a founding panelist onSunday Edition, the weekly discussion program on WCBS, and the host of Hotline, aweekly issues program on New York public television. He's won many awards for hisreporting and commentary, including, recently, The American Society of NewspaperEditors award for distinguished commentary. Please join me in welcoming BarackObama and Bob Herbert to the stage of the Kennedy Library.Senator, it's an honor to have you here. I know we're on a tight schedule, so we're notgoing to waste a lot of time. Members of the audience will see people coming aroundwith pencils and we're going to take some written questions and we'll, if we have time,we'll answer a few at the end of the interview. I noticed upstairs I'm looking at thepictures of President Kennedy and I recall from your book that you were born, if I'm notmistaken, in the year Senator Kennedy was inaugurated, is that right?That is correct.Wow. He um--Are you getting enough attention lately?Well the first thing I have to say to everybody is, I'm sorry I'm late. I had forgotten howwonderful the Boston weather is this time of year, and we were delayed in a holdingpattern over the skies for about half an hour or an hour back in New York, but Iappreciate everybody taking the time to-- everybody's patience.Let's start with the war in Iraq, which is going horribly, and which seems to be the bigtopic in the upcoming election. We're very close to that. You are not in favor of the war,but you have not called for a precipitous withdrawal of US troops. So what should theUnited States do in Iraq, and if the Democrats take control of either or both houses ofCongress, what could the party do to move us toward a more acceptable solution?Well, the-- as you mentioned Bob, we've talked I think before I was elected at thatpoint I had made my position clear, I thought that the war was not based on reason andfact, but rather on ideology, and unfortunately most of my worst fears came to pass. Myview had been at the time, and continues to be, that once we were in we had someobligation to try to stabilize the situation. And so over the last year, as I've watched theconditions continue to deteriorate, and I've made a visit to Iraq in January, my view was,Let us see if we can give this political process a chance, and try to buck up the passing ofthe Iraqi government to create some order.It's my view at this point, and I've been saying this now for several months, that there isno military solution possible in Iraq at this point. That what you have is a politicalproblem that is going to have to be solved, to a large degree, by the Iraqis themselves.And so, to my mind it makes sense to now begin a phased withdrawal. Originally, Ibelieved that withdrawal should have been started by the end of this year. Now it'sunlikely that we can execute that that quickly, but I think early next year, we should thePresident should sit down with the joint chiefs of staff and should say, How do we do thisin a way that causes the least threat to our troops, and maintains some semblance ofstability, whatever's left in Iraq, and send a strong signal to the Iraqis that they are goingto have to make a determination: do they want to live as Iraqis, in a unified nationalgovernment, are they Kurds, Shiite and Sunni first? And force them to make somepolitical decisions about what's going to happen.The second thing I think the President needs to do is to gather up all the regional powers,including Iran and Syria. Who, to some degree, are enjoying watching us flounder there,but will not enjoy millions of refugees if Iraq collapses completely. And say to them,"You have to take some ownership over the process as well." The internationalcommunity, but particularly the Arab states in the surrounding region. And I think if wesend a signal that we are not interested in permanent bases, we are not going to police acivil war, that we can provide support for whatever plans emerge from those discussions,but we are not going to be able to impose our will in Iraq by ourselves, then we can makesome progress. Now keep in mind, and I'll finish up with this: part of the reason I thoughtthis was a bad idea was because at this stage, I don't think there are any good options. Ithink there are bad options and worse options. And there are risks in a phasedwithdrawal. Because one can argue that as bad as the situation is now, it couldconceivably in the short term get worse. The problem is that the alternative, which is tocontinue on the course we're on at this point, where what we're seeing typically is whenUS casualties get high, the administration pulls back troops into the large consolidatedbases. The situation deteriorates, we send them back in, and so this month we're seeing ahuge spike in US casualties. That kind of pattern is unsustainable, it's not serving ournational security interests, and I think the American people had made it, at this pointmade it clear, that that is not a burden that they wish to bear.And is there a role for the Democratic Party, if you take one of the houses of Congress tomove the administration or the country along.Well you know I think the politics of this election are not only going to embolden thedemocrats, somewhat belatedly, but I think are also going to cause a lot of soul searchingfrom those Republicans that remain in Congress. I'm confident at this point that theHouse is going to go Democratic. I think the Senate is going to be close. [applause] Iknow this is a non-partisan event, but feel free to applaud. The-- and as a consequence,the democrats are going to be in a position now to at the very least, hold hearings andprovide the kind of oversight that we have not been able to initiate because manychairmen have essentially refused. That, in and of itself, would put pressure on theadministration to make a difference in the decisions. But I think more fundamentally thealbatross around the Republican Party's neck in this election is going to cause them tostep back and say, "We're going to have to figure out a new way of doing business."And the commission that is co-chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton may provide, ifnot the administration, at least Republicans in Congress the cover to start re-thinkingwhat their positions are going to be.One more question on Iraq, this also relates to our obligations as citizens. Not too longago I went to Tennessee to interview an American soldier who'd been sent to the combatzone three times. He went to Afghanistan and then served two year-long tours in Iraq.And he made the point that it's a very small percentage of Americans who are bearing theburden and making the sacrifices for this war. Most of us are free to go about our dailybusiness, you can go shopping, go to the mall, do whatever it is you need to do, and it'sonly a tiny sliver of the population that's enduring the suffering. That seemsfundamentally unfair, and I'd like to know what your views are about that.Well, I think it raises two points. The first and most immediate point is that in fact theburden of this war has been borne by a small segment of the population. And to somedegree that's the only reason that we went in there in the first place. Had there been adraft, we would not have launched this war. I think that's fair to say. In fact, one couldargue that had-- we wouldn't even need a universal draft, if there was a rule that allmembers of Congress' children were eligible for the draft, there would not have been-- wewe would not have gone in.We can't have that conversation in the midst of war. It's too volatile for us to startthinking about, how are we structuring our military and what does an all-voluntary forcemean relative to a universal service requirement. But I think it's one that we shouldinitiate in times where we can be more reflective and less passionate.But isn't it likely in a time when we can be more reflective, meaning a time when we'renot at war, that we won't have that conversation?Well, I would like to start a conversation, and this brings me to, I guess, the larger point.About what citizenship means. And what are our obligations to each other. And how dowe create a stronger link between the decision making in Washington and the dailyexperience of people's lives? And this is not just true in foreign policy. The same is truewith respect to the economy. This week we saw the DOW do over 12,000 points. Ifyou're walking down Wall St, the economy looks great. If you go to Decater Illinois, orGalesburg, Illinois, or Peoria, Illinois, the economy looks very different.And the reason is is because the top 1% is seeing their incomes rise about 500% over thelast decade, and the average working stiff is seeing their wages and salaries flatline. Thetop 1% is much more likely to participate politically than the other 99%. And so we hadthese distortions in terms of how decisions are made in Washington. I don't have a magicsolution to it, but part of the reason I wrote this book was to suggest there'd have to beways for us to re-engage the citizens around the project of Americans, both domesticallyand internationally.And the first step in that, I think, is to restore some mechanism for honest debate.Because the problem with the Iraq war was the debate was dishonest. The problem withour foreign policy right now is that we have posed the problem as either we're belligerentand the military is the only solution to any national security threats that we have, or,conversely, that we had this big multilateralism, kumbaya approach. And that's how it'scharacterized in the press. And in our politics. And what we have to do is to say,"Those choices are inadequate."And we have to return to the kind of serious policy discussions that characterized, forexample, after World War II. When Atchinson and Marshall and Truman sat down andsaid, "What are our options," given a threat that by all accounts, I think historically, onewould argue, was far more dangerous than the threats that we face now from terrorists.I mean, we had nuclear bombs pointed at every major city in the United States. And yetwe were able to negotiate that because there was not only among policy makers a sense ofseriousness and honesty about the nature of the threat and how we were going toapproach it and so forth, but also among the population, at least in the early years, I writeabout in the book that the Marshall Plan involved an enormous PR campaign to explainto people why it made sense for us to invest in Europe. And why it made sense for us tobuild the kinds of alliances that ultimately shaped NATO and allowed us to lock in Japanas a long-term ally in Asia. That kind of conversation I think is one that, it can't just beleft to the wise men in Washington, but has to be something that the population as whole is engaged in.Now the book, and I have to say, it really is a terrific book. Usually if I'm doing interviewsHe's got to say that.No, usually you go out of your way not to look like you're trying to promote the book, butthis really is an excellent book, and you've titled it The Audacity of Hope, but, you know,we're in a pretty tough environment right now. You know, we've got this war that we justtalked about, which is going badly. You mentioned that the stock market, well the dow,is at record highs but a lot of working people are feeling economically insecure, the poorhave been literally left behind, and Americans are worried about things like terror and thespread of nuclear weapons. We've got a tragic situations like Darfur. A lot of people arereally depressed. You seem very optimistic, you've titled your book The Audacity ofHope. Tell us why we should be hopeful. Make the case for hope.Well, first of all, where I got the title from, some of you remember I actually used the linein the speech that I gave here in Boston, but I actually pilfered it from my pastor. I'mmaking this confession publicly. He gave a sermon. My pastor's name is JeremiahWright, he's the pastor of Trinity Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago, and hegave a sermon about 18 years ago.I was a young community organizer. And the south side of Chicago this particularregion this is the far south side of Chicago had been devastated because steel plantshad been shut down. This is right when the Rust Belt era was rolling through theMidwest. And there had been massive layoffs and the communities had been devastated.People were out of work, there was a lot of racial conflict and racial turnover in the area,crime was on the increase, usual maladies facing inner city schools.And he delivers this sermon that had a very simple premise. He said, "You know, it'sactually sometimes easier to be cynical. It's easier to feel hopeless. It doesn't requiremuch from each of us. What's audacious, what requires risk, is to be hopeful. To believethat despite what we see around us, what is, there's this other thing that's possible. Whatcould be." And that idea stuck with me, and I think characterized what not only I endedup finding most valuable in my faith, but also I think described an aspect of the Americancharacter that's pretty fundamental.I mean there's a reason why in that speech I talked about slaves sitting around a firesinging freedom songs. Or immigrants coming from distant shores, not really knowingwhat it was that they were going to find when they arrived in America. But believingsomehow that across that ocean, there's something else. And as rough as our history hasbeen, somehow we've continued to have that stubborn optimism that things can be better,and as a consequence of that, the trajectory of this nation has been in favor of justice andfreedom and equity.As bad as things are now, they were worse at many times in our history. Certainly worsefor many people who looked like you and me, worse for the women in this audience,worse for poor people before there was any safety net. In each juncture there were peoplewho decided that it's possible for us to come together and solve these problems.And so the basic theme of the book is that most of the challenges we face: health care,education, problems we face in terms of globalization, foreign policy dilemmas as aconsequence of rogue states and terrorism, none of these problems are easy. All of them,though, are amenable to good decision making, common sense, practicality, andimprovement, and if we can focus our politics around what our common values are andour common ideals are, then it's possible for us to make progress, although progress willalways be imperfect.Now one of the things you stress in the book, it's a theme throughout, is what you feel isthe need to reach out to people who hold opposing views to your own, to try andunderstand what the other side is talking about even if you don't agree. To reach acrossthe aisle, Democrats, Republicans, etc. But that's not what I want to ask you about rightnow, I want to put your partisan hat on, and we're very close to the election, and why is it,looking from the prospective of the American people, your constituents, why is itimportant in your view for Democrats to do well in the upcoming election.Well, I actually do talk about this in the book, and by the way I confess in the book thatthis book is not balanced, I'm a Democrat. And so some people are going to read it andsay, That's not entirely fair, he mis-characterizes this or that, I strive to be fair but I stillhave a perspective. And what I believe has happened over the last six, eight, ten years, isthat the Republican party has become captive now keep in mind I come from the land ofLincoln, so I don't think that any political party in our history has had a monopoly on wisdom or truth.But over the last ten years, at least, what you've seen is that the Republican party hasbecome captive to a narrow band of highly ideological absolutists. Folks who seeproblems through pre-conceived notions about how the world should work, as opposed tohow it actually does work, and so in the economy, we've had the victory of a radicallassez-faire that has result essentially in the working people you discussed earlier being entirely on their own.And each and every decision that's made, whether it's privatizing social security, orsetting up private health, savings accounts, or diminishing regulation, or essentiallyeliminating anti-trust, or not enforcing civil rights laws. In each instance the basicpremise is, you know what, anything goes. And folks'll sort it out in some fashion but thegovernment does not have a role to play in the economy and that's defined in a veryabsolute way. With respect to foreign policy, the view is, we don't need anybody else,and any encroachment or restrains on our actions as a nation are absolutely unacceptable.Because we are the most powerful nation on earth, we should be able to dictate our role.In very absolute terms. In terms of how we think about culture and social issues, we'veseen the rise of people who believe that if you do not subscribe to a particularinterpretation of a particular religion, then you are suspect and potentially immoral, andthat I don't think characterizes the majority of Republicans in the country, and it doesn'tcharacterize-- I would argue that it doesn't characterize the best of the Republican party.But those are the folks who've been driving the agenda over the last ten years. And sothere has always been a contrary set of ideas that at least since FDR have been at the coreof the Democratic party. And that says, "No you are not on your own, yes we valueindividual initiative and self-reliance and the freedom of the market place. But we alsoaffirm that we have some mutual obligations toward each other. That we had somefellow feeling. Some sense of solidarity. Some belief in community. And that has toexpress itself not just in our churches or mosques or synagogues, not just in our familiesor our neighborhoods or our ethnic enclaves, it has to express itself through ourgovernment and through our notions of citizenship.Now, the Democrats haven't always been true to that ideal and oftentimes we deservecriticism for betraying that ideal. But that idea I think continues to be what holds togetherthe Democratic party. And so at this stage, when we look at the fact that 46 millionpeople don't have health insurance, or we look at the fact that we don't have an energypolicy that would not only help our economy but also strengthen our national security anddeal with our environment, or we look at an education system that continues to fail largenumbers of children, so that they have no way of accessing the global economy, then Ithink it's clear that things have swung out of balance, and the last point I'd make on this,that's why I think the Democrats should win.The reason I think Democrats will win, is that when I travel around the country what I'mstruck by is a sense of soberness and seriousness among people right now. People wantsubstantive responses to the challenges we face. And I know that this is a non-partisanevent but I will go ahead and say, since you asked the question, I think that the electionhere in Massachusetts for governor is a prime example. Where my good buddy, DuvallPatrick, has presented an agenda and the reason people are responding to that agenda andnot responding to the usual negative ads that have just been plastered all over televisionscreens in Massachusetts, is that people want to know, what are you going to do about these problems?And you're seeing that all across the country. And that is a terrific turn of events. Now itforces the Democrats to actually have an affirmative agenda. It's not going to besufficient simply to say, "We're not Bush," we can't try to flip the script and simply say,as bad as they are you should vote for us, because that means that the next election cycle,they'll take it out on democrats.Well the election's close, is that agenda in place?Well, I think the other side's so bad right now that we're going to get through the nextthree weeks. But so I was referring to 08...where I think if Democrats don't show someleadership and an affirmative set of solutions to some of these challenges, even if we can'tget all of those solutions passed, I think we'll be punished. If people want seriousanswers to these problems and if you're going to talk about energy for example, theeasiest thing in the world is to look at Exxon-Mobile's problems last quarter and say thesefolks are making 36 billion dollars in one quarter, the CEO's making 500 million dollars,and gas prices are high, and we're getting gouged.That may be sufficient because it does describe the degree to which the powerful havemade out like bandits over the last several years. That may be sufficient to get us throughthis election. But after the election, people are going to say, Okay smart guy. What arewe going to do about energy? And at that point democrats are going to have to say, Okay.We've got to sift through the range of proposals that are out there, you know your fellowcolumnist Tom Freedman, who's been pushing higher gas tax, what can we do toethanol in the way that Brazil has done, to expanding bio-diesel and other sources ofalternative fuels to reducing consumption by retro-fitting buildings and industry.We've got to make a series of proposals that actually make sense. And I think if we do,then the American people are going to stand up and say, "Keep going." And they willunderstand, and we can be honest with them that there's no...most of the challenges weface, there's no silver bullet.I have a lot of town hall meetings in Illinois. And one of the favorite topics that I bringup is the issue of the federal budget. Because typically what will happen is, sometimeswe get town hall meetings of two thousand people, and I'll get one person who's saying,We need mental health to be included in health care coverage. Another person will saythat No Child Left Behind left the money behind, and we need money for schools, andsomebody else will say, The Bridge needs to be repaired. So forth.And then at some point somebody will say, Why are you supporting the death tax? Andat that point I will say, Look. A basic principle of the federal budget, there's no freelunch. There's no free lunch. You want to eliminate the state tax, that will cost us onetrillion dollars. It affects .5% of the population. If we completely eliminate it it costs one trillion dollars.We've got three ways of dealing with it. That one trillion dollars. We can make it up byraising taxes on the other 99.5%, we can borrow a trillion dollars from China and SouthKorea and Mexico, or we can reduce services by a trillion dollars. Those are our choices.And I think when you describe those choices to the American people, in an honeststraightforward way, then I'm your representative. You tell me what is going to reflect our values.Because there's not a trillion dollars worth to waste in the federal budget. 90% of thefederal budget goes to social security and Medicaid, the fence, and payments on thenational debt. And about 10% is left over for everything else. We'd have to eliminateeverything else, and we would still have to make further cuts. Is that reflective of yourvalues, and your ideals? And most of the time, I don't care whether it's a Repub-- I'll havethese town hall meetings and all Republican red state areas of Illinois, and people willsay, No, that's not what we believe.The first time I met you, you were running for Senate, you were a state senator in Illinois,and you were not well-known outside the state of Illinois.I wasn't well-known inside the state. Although I guess by the time we met, I had won theprimary. So some folks in the state knew me.Well in my ride over here in a cab in the rain this evening, a fellow pulled up here andsaid, "What's going on at the forum?" And I said, senator Barack Obama will bespeaking. And he just said, "Oh, our next President." Just like that.If the election took place among cab drivers...I think I would have it. About half of emare from Africa, first of all, so they all have funny names, and so you know, I'd do well.He's ready to work for you. But you know I watched you on Oprah the other day, you'reon the cover of Time magazine, you're in New York magazine, you're on Larry King lastnight, I checked into the hotel, turned on the television, you're on Larry King, you're everywhere...It's a bit much, isn't it..That's for you to say!That's what my wife says, anyway. I am fed up with reading about you.In any event, the widespread assumption is that at some point you will run for President.So my question is, when you think about yourself and the Presidency, what is it that runsthrough your mind? What kind of thoughts do you have about that?Well, all the attention is flattering. And as I've said before, if you go into public service,then you want to have influence, otherwise you wouldn't do it. And I suppose just purevanity can force you into politics. I have found, and I think this is something-- as you getolder you discover certain things about yourself that you don't like so much. But everyonce in a while you discover some things that you do like. And one of the things I'vediscovered that I'm pleased with is that I actually find the attention and seeing my name inthe papers, and the stuff that feeds your ego, less satisfying as time goes on.So the reason you go into politics, or any form of public service, is because you are goingto have influence. You're going to create some sort of change. And obviously thePresident has the most influence. And so I think it would be disingenuous for me to say,or for that matter, let me tell you, any of the 99 senators, or any governor across thecountry, to say that at some point, they don't think about, what would it be like if you hadthat platform? That unique office? What I then also think is that that office is sodifferent from any other office on the planet that you have to understand that if you seekthat office, you have to be prepared to give your life to it.That your I said this on Charlie Rose last nightCharlie Rose, I missed that one.In case there were folks that were watching, I'm acknowledging that I'm repeating myselfhere. But essentially the bargain that any president I think strikes with the Americanpeople is, you give me this office and in turn my fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, needfor sleep, family life, vacations, leisure...is gone. I am giving myself to you, and theAmerican people should have no patience for whatever's going through your head,because you've got a job to do.And so how I think about it is, that you don't make that decision unless you are preparedto make that sacrifice. That trade-off, that bargain. And I think that what's difficult andimportant for somebody like myself who has a wonderful forbearing life, and twogorgeous young children, they end up having to make some of those sacrifices with you.And that's a profound decision that you don't make lightly. I think those who makemistakes, I suspect, in the president's office, make it because they haven't fully thoughtthrough the dimensions of that choice.Can you imagine yourself at some point making that kind of commitment?Sure. I didn't say I had, I just said I could imagine myself. Yeah.Have you ruled out running in 2008?At this point, and I'm not trying to be coy here, at this point I really am focused on thesenext three weeks, because I'm too tired and my mind is filled up with too many things, Iliterally finished this book, finished this session, went on the road, started to campaign for fall.So you have not ruled it out.We'll leave it there. That was his comment.