President Barack Obama sat down with Rolling Stone for an hour long interview, which the editors there are billing the "most substantive interview the president has granted in over a year." The president used the opportunity to single out two conservative Americans for attack.
The president was asked, "Is there any way to break through that obstructionism by Republicans?"
He responded by attacking conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist:
My hope is that if the American people send a message to them that's consistent with the fact that Congress is polling at 13 percent right now, and they suffer some losses in this next election, that there's going to be some self-reflection going on – that it might break the fever. They might say to themselves, "You know what, we've lost our way here. We need to refocus on trying to get things done for the American people."
Frankly, I know that there are good, decent Republicans on Capitol Hill who, in a different environment, would welcome the capacity to work with me. But right now, in an atmosphere in which folks like Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist are defining what it means to be a true conservative, they are lying low. My hope is that after this next election, they'll feel a little more liberated to go out and say, "Let's redirect the Republican Party back to those traditions in which a Dwight Eisenhower can build an interstate highway system."
Interestingly, the questions posed to the president directly before this one were, "What's your relationship with the GOP leadership at this point? A little frosty?"
Obama responded by saying that relations are "not frosty" and that it "isn't personal." He went on to give backhanded praise to Republican speaker of the House John Boehner, saying he's not "a bad person" and that he's "patriotic," but that he's too "ideologically rigid."
Obama did offer lavish praise, however, for a couple liberal pundits--Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, the New York Times's Paul Krugman, and Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan. "I don't watch a lot of TV news," said Obama. "I don't watch cable at all. I like The Daily Show, so sometimes if I'm home late at night, I'll catch snippets of that. I think Jon Stewart's brilliant. It's amazing to me the degree to which he's able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense – for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do."
The president said he reads every single New York Times columnist, and that liberal economist and columnist Paul Krugman "[is] obviously one of the smartest economic reporters out there."
Obama went on to say that he does "read some of the conservative columnists, just to get a sense of where those arguments are going," but he didn't single out any conservative commentators for praise.
He added, "There are a handful of blogs, Andrew Sullivan's on the Daily Beast being an example, that combine thoughtful analysis with a sampling of lots of essays that are out there. The New Yorker and The Atlantic still do terrific work. Every once in a while, I sneak in a novel or a nonfiction book."
The president was also asked to reflect on his own presidency. "Like every other job, you have good days and bad days," Obama told Rolling Stone. "Like every other job, if you're willing to be self-critical and you're putting your all into it, you get better at it over time. I think I'm a better president now than when I first came into office. I think that my team is more efficient and can see around corners better than we could when we first came into office. As several people have pointed out to me who have been in previous administrations, this is a hard job, period. It's a really hard job when you're in the middle of the worst financial crisis in your lifetime, and two wars at the same time, and major challenges involving terrorism and climate change."
He concluded: "My hair is grayer, and obviously you get dinged up and bruised in this job. But my confidence in the American people is stronger than it was when I came into office, and my determination to do right by them and make sure that every morning, I wake up trying to figure out, 'How do I improve their prospects?' That determination burns brighter than it did back in 2008."