With one week left in office, President Barack Obama talked to CBS’s “60 Minutes” about his eight years in Washington.
The interview, which aired on Sunday, gave a wide-ranging look at Obama’s biggest achievements and disappointments in office, and included lots of insights on what it meant to Obama to lead the US.
When CBS’s Steve Kroft asked him if anything had surprised him during his time as president, Obama touched on a recurring theme of the interview and his presidency at large — partisanship.
“I was surprised and continue to be surprised by the severity of partisanship in this town,” Obama said of Washington, D.C..
“I will confess that, I didn’t fully appreciate the ways in which individual senators or members of Congress now are pushed to the extremes by their voter bases. I did not expect, particularly in the midst of crisis, just how severe that partisanship would be,” said Obama.
Obama pointed to the recent example of the Senate refusing to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, leaving the Supreme Court to hear cases with only 8 justices after Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016 as an example of partisanship.
“We couldn’t even get a hearing,” said Obama.
“The fact that Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans, was able to just stop a nomination almost a year before the next election and really not pay a political price for it, that’s a sign that the incentives for politicians in this town to be so sharply partisan have gotten so outta hand that we’re weakening ourselves,” Obama said.
On January 20, the US will inaugurate Donald Trump as its 45th president. The Obamas will stay in town in the Kalorama section of D.C..
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