Jeff Zeleney of the New York Times somehow managed to sneak in a 4-part question during President Obama's press conference marking his first 100 days in office. Zeleny asked the President what he surprised him, enchanted him, troubled him, and humbled him about the office during these first 100 days. Obama interrupted Zeleny partway through his question so he could write it down, a move that elicited laughter from the press corps, especially when Zeleny repeated his query about what "enchanted" him.
Watch Obama's in depth answer below. Transcript below the video.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about
this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office?
Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most?
OBAMA: Now let me write this down.
OBAMA: I've got...
QUESTION: Surprised, troubled...
OBAMA: I've got -- what was the first one?
OBAMA: Surprised. QUESTION: Troubled.
OBAMA: Enchanted, nice.
QUESTION: And humbled.
OBAMA: And what was the last one, humbled?
QUESTION: Humbled. Thank you, sir.
OBAMA: All right. OK. Surprised. I am surprised compared to where I
started, when we first announced for this race, by the number of
critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same
You know, when I first started this race, Iraq was a central issue,
but the economy appeared on the surface to still be relatively strong.
There were underlying problems that I was seeing with health care for
families and our education system and college affordability and so
forth, but obviously, I didn't anticipate the worst economic crisis
since the Great Depression.
And so, you know, the typical president, I think, has two or three big
problems. We've got seven or eight big problems. And so we've had to
move very quickly and I'm very proud of my team for the fact that
we've been able to keep our commitments to the American people, to
bring about change, while at the same time managing a whole host of
issues that had come up that weren't necessarily envisioned a
Troubled? I'd say less troubled, but, you know, sobered by the fact
that change in Washington comes slow. That there is still a certain
quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even
when we're in the middle of really big crises.
I would like to think that everybody would say, you know what, let's
take a time-out on some of the political games, focus our attention
for at least this year, and then we can start running for something
next year. And that hasn't happened as much as I would have liked.
Enchanted? Enchanted. I will tell you that when I -- when I meet our
servicemen and -women, enchanted is probably not the word I would use.
OBAMA: But I am so profoundly impressed and grateful to them for what
they do. They're really good at their job. They are willing to make
extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf. They do so without complaint.
They are fiercely loyal to this country.
And, you know, the more I interact with our servicemen and women, from
the top brass down to the lowliest private, I'm just -- I'm grateful
Humbled by the -- humbled by the fact that the presidency is
extraordinarily powerful, but we are just part of a much broader
tapestry of American life, and there are a lot of different power
centers. And so I can't just press a button and suddenly have the
bankers do exactly what I want or, you know, turn on a switch and
suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.
And so, you know, what you do is to -- is to make your best arguments,
listen hard to what other people have to say, and coax folks in the
This metaphor has been used before, but the ship of state is an ocean
liner. It's not a speedboat. And so the way we are constantly thinking
about this issue, of how to bring about the changes that the American
people need, is to -- is to say, if we can move this big battleship a
few degrees in a different direction, you may not see all the
consequences of that change a week from now or three months from now,
but 10 years from now or 20 years from now, our kids will be able to
look back and say, "That was when we started getting serious about
clean energy. That's when health care started to become more efficient
and affordable. That's when we became serious about raising our
standards in education."
And -- and so I -- I have a much longer time horizon than I think you
do when you're a candidate or if you're listening, I think, to the
media reportage on a day-to-day basis.
And I'm humbled, last, by the American people who have shown
extraordinary patience and I think a recognition that we're not going
to solve all of these problems overnight.
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