President Obama surmised during an interview with Charlie Rose on CBS that the biggest mistake he made in his first term was spending too much time on policy and not realizing he needed to “tell a story to the American people.”
“When I think about what we’ve done well and what we haven’t done well,” the president said, “the mistake of my first term—couple of years—was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”
The president sat next to the First Lady for the interview, the rest of which will be shown on CBS Sunday Morning and also Monday morning on CBS This Morning. The question of “biggest mistake” is one of those job interview questions for which you are expected to turn it around and make a liability sound like a virtue. Obama did a stellar job of that, portraying himself as working too hard on the policies that determine the direction of the country.
“It’s funny, when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?” he said. “And in my first two years, I think the notion was, ‘Well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism.”
Pressed by Rose about what he felt he needed to explain better to the American people, the president corrected that he wanted to do more “explaining, but also inspiring.”
“Because hope is still there,” the first lady added.
The president will likely be giving more interviews like the one on CBS in coming months as the campaign season heats up—particularly if he feels that he needs to tell more stories to the American people.