Yesterday, ThinkProgress provided our readers an opportunity to ask John Podesta questions pertaining to his service on the Obama transition team. You responded with great enthusiasm, offering more than 100 comments and questions. Thank you!
I sat down with John yesterday afternoon for about 20 minutes. In that period of time, we were able to get to 8 of your questions. The first one I asked him was the top-rated question, as voted on by the ThinkProgress community. It was submitted by user curtisteff, and it read: “Why is President Obama giving up so much to try to appease the conservatives?” Podesta offered this response:
I think that if you look at the [economic recovery] bill that’s making its way through the House and then will be taken up by the Senate this week and voted on and put on the President’s desk by President’s Day, what you see in there is the thrust that he laid down early on – really back in December and in January.
I think he was willing to have a dialogue with Republicans. So far, that dialogue has been largely one in which it’s good-natured but the Republicans don’t seem to really want to come to the table and talk seriously about what needs to be done for the country. So be it — that’s their choice. But I think he did want to change the tone in Washington. He wanted to talk to people across the political spectrum. He wanted to open up the government to people from all perspectives around the country. That’s what WhiteHouse.gov is about. That’s what the transition — change.gov — was about, to try to solicit ideas from across the political spectrum to meet the big challenges.
But I would not confuse that with an idea that he’s compromising on his big goals of trying to deal with the very difficult economic circumstances we face and deal with the big challenges this country faces on energy, education, health care, and the other things.
The next seven other questions I asked John were (in this order):
“Does Obama plan to create some kind of commission to look into past abuses of our obligations under both domestic law and foreign treaty?” [submitted by fletc3her]
“Is Single-Payer, Universal Health Care off the table?” [submitted by CVille Dem]
“How were you able to get a man [President Bush] who has usually been so divisive to work together in order to meet your goals?” [submitted by unbelievable]
“How much of the flurry of regulation weakening and last-minute government appointments done by Bush in the closing days of his administration does Obama expect to reverse?” [submitted by misshusseinmolly]
“Did you ever consider scrapping or massively reorganising Cabinent level positions?” [submitted by KarinJR]
“Who will play the part of that progressive attack dog?” [submitted by Alex Krogh-Grabbe]
“What are the ways for citizens in communities to help President Obama?” [submitted by ianok]
Watch the videos for his responses:
While all the questions were posted for public consumption on the blog, John did not know which ones I would choose to ask him, nor did we discuss beforehand any answers he might give. What you see on these videos is John’s authentic reaction to your submitted questions.
John Podesta will appear tonight on Stephen Colbert’s show.