Bill Maher interviews President Obama: Part 2 (Food Purity, Obama's Standard for Presidential Policies, & Military Expansionism)


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Obama musing as the interview draws near a close.
Photo Credit: 
HBO/Real Time with Bill Maher


                Returning to the topic of Bill Maher’s interview with President Barack Obama (link available at the end of the article), we can address the remainder which included topics such as food purity, Obama’s guiding methodology as a sitting President, military expansionism, and a closing call to Americans – now just a day away from the election – to vote. Without further ado, let’s dive straight in the to the major topics remaining.

                First, we have food purity. For fans of Bill Maher this topic should be of little surprise, as he’s well known for working in topics related both to the purity of food and to the Drug War on a recurrent, expected basis. President Obama’s response was thoughtful & careful, but direct. He articulated a view that in all cases related to issues of food purity we should be motivated and driven to action based on the science – nothing more or less. In this light, Obama readily admitted that the overuse of antibiotics in farming is a concerning trend that we need to work to derail. However, he also stressed that many of the food purity causes that are taken up by the Left lack the scientific backing to remain actionable, or even simply taken as valid concerns.

                From there, though, we were led into what might be the best insight into Obama’s way of thinking and methodology with regards to policy as a President. For those eager to pinpoint this moment in the interview, jump to 19 minutes 30 seconds for the lead in to this case. Obama explains that his underlying motivation in creating policy is to examine the facts and science behind a cause and to erect his policies around that well-grounded foundation. Essentially, he admits that his base point isn’t the desire to follow party lines or even his own sense of right and wrong, but instead to figure out what can be done to best serve Americans based on the available evidence and then to enter the political theater or political arena with that knowledge.

                Examining this line of thought allows for a brief glimpse behind what might be termed the Obama Standard. For example – let’s look back at Obamacare, briefly discussed in the earlier portions of the interview. Obama articulates a desire to pursue a single-payer system, but he ultimately opts to follow an assessment that simply expanding insurance coverage to millions more Americans would provide the greater good in the short term. Add to this the assessment that a single-payer system is unlikely to find traction or make progress, and the way forward was clear: Obamacare’s forcible expansion of insurance coverage via mandate, for its many flaws, carried a singular line of logic and motivation throughout.

                The final, and perhaps longest, discussion was regarding America’s military. Maher cited figures regarding the growth of our military presence – particularly drawing attention to our presence in a multitude of bases overseas. While Obama regarded the growth of the American military as presenting challenges, he largely owned it as a necessity in the modern world. Obama explained that the obvious point of importance was that a strong, overpowering military gave us a great counterbalance to foreign leaders that might act on dangerous whims (like North Korea). It also, though, provided the best possible international framework for responding to emergency scenarios – such as the Ebola countermeasures the US was/is involved in. American military might also, at times, may act as a catalyst against authoritarian leadership threats such as imprisoning or killing journalists and human rights activists. Obama stressed the need to recognize American mistakes and imperfections, but ultimately saw a greatness in the American people that was reflected in the spirit and service of our military service men & women.

                And, predictably, Obama closed out with a call to vote. Obama’s support (and Maher’s as well) has been decided behind Hillary Clinton. While my own leanings are of the liberal persuasion, I refuse to pretend Hillary is the patron saint of true American leadership. That said – her flaws do little to sway me to turn away given the threat a Trump presidency could pose to Americans as a whole, let alone America’s place in the world. While I advocate for Hillary as the better of two flawed options, I’ll close by advocating for a singularity: vote – whoever you favor, please vote. Democracy only works if you do.

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