Obama takes on Tea Party, economics, more in Decorah
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 8:02 AM
As his town hall meeting at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah was winding down Monday evening, President Barack Obama called for a last question from the audience. The otherwise apparently well-mannered crowd then served up a curve, giving Obama a chance to show diplomacy in action.
President Obama speaks to a crowd gathered at Seed Savers near Decorah, Iowa, on Monday.
An audience member who was not picked, stood up and yelled his question anyway, asking how the people of the country could come together, when the vice president was calling (apparently Tea Party members) "terrorists?"
When the man refused to sit down, a couple Secret Service agents stood beside him, ready to remove him from the crowd.
Obama urged them to let the man be. He also said, "Sir... I know it's not going to work if you just stand up and start.... when I asked everybody to raise their hand (who had questions to ask)... I didn't see you. I wasn't avoiding you."
Questions from youth
The president also told the man he'd be happy to talk with him afterward, which it's reported Obama did and shook his hand.
Obama turned his attention to a young man who turned out to be a Luther College student, saying he always likes to close events talking with the "next generation."
The student thanked the president, noting how it's a "real benefit living in Iowa that we get to meet a lot of famous presidential candidates," to which Obama said that for some reason they just seem to show up in Iowa. "It's shocking," he said, laughing.
The student then took on the Tea Party and much more in a question that brought the crowd to life with its applause.
Quoting from a transcript of the event, the student asked, "You're talking a lot about how to bring people together and how to get our democracy to work together. It's all about finding common ground. But over the past we've seen the rise of the Tea Party and they really like to cite Thomas Jefferson for his opposition to big government and support for small government. What they don't ever mention is his fear of monied interests in politics.
"Well, what we saw in 2010 in Iowa were - and in Wisconsin - were experienced, dedicated, wise centrist Democratic public servants being challenged by relatively unqualified Republican candidates. And these candidates were backed by millions of dollars from out-of-state company funding. And we also know the Republican frontrunner for president is calling corporations 'people.'
"So I'm wondering what kind of hope do we have for our political spectrum now that we're running - we're going into the first presidential election where we will be facing unlimited corporate contributions in politics?"
When the crowd finished cheering and applauding, Obama said he was all for "toning down the rhetoric," especially with his experience as one who'd been called a socialist, who supposedly wasn't born in the country and who has been destroying America and taking away its freedoms because he passed a health care bill.
"I do think that, whether it's the Tea Party or activists from whatever walk of life, as I said before, democracy has always been rambunctious in this country. And that's part of what makes America great, is everybody can express opinions. There is real anger and frustration - understandable - about the economic situation that we're finding ourselves in. I get that."
Citing "irresponsible actions in both Washington and on Wall Street" almost bringing the country's economy to the ground, Obama said he realizes that everyone is paying for it.
"I think the Tea Party is an expression of that anger and frustration, as much as sort of the activism on the Democratic side is an expression of anger and frustration.
"Obviously, I agree more with the view that it wasn't big government per se that caused the crash, it wasn't food stamps or public employee unions that caused this crash, and that we should direct our anger effectively at how do we prevent the most powerful forces in our society from acting irresponsibly," stated Obama.
After talking about legislation passed for a financial regulatory bill called Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau it created, the president noted the other side would not approve a leader for the agency unless the enforcement capabilities of this were watered down.
"That is pure special-interest lobbying at work," he stated. That is not how democracy should work, he explained.
Share voices - vote
President Obama did feel the American people are "putting their voice behind something" and eventually the system will respond. He said it might take some time. Voting and elections would be the way to do it.
He closed saying, "And let me tell you, when we have that kind of politics, watch out. Watch out. You will not be able to stop this country. You will not be able to stop America from making sure the 21st century is the American century, just like the 20th century was. But I'm going to need your help, everybody... God bless you. God bless America."
To see a complete transcript of Obama's Decorah stop, go to: