When I think about what we've done well and what we haven't done well, 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 comment attracted a good deal of press attention, but he has made similar comments before.
Interview with Diane Sawyer, January 25, 2010:
You know, I think your question points out to a legitimate mistake that I made during the course of the year, and that is that we had to make so many decisions quickly in a very difficult set of circumstances that after awhile, we started worrying more about getting the policy right than getting the process right.Interview with Peter Baker, New York Times, October 12, 2010:
Given how much stuff was coming at us, we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right.Question and answer session, Seattle, October 21, 2010:
I mean, our attitude was, we just had to get the policy right, and we did not always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.Remarks to the press, November 14, 2010:
As I said in the press conference the day after the election, I spent the first two years trying to get policy right based on my best judgment about how we were going to deal with the short-term crisis and how we were going to retool to compete in this new global economy. In that obsessive focus on policy, I neglected some things that matter a lot to people, and rightly so: maintaining a bipartisan tone in Washington; dealing with practices like earmarks that are wasteful at a time of -- where everybody else is tightening their belts; making sure that the policy decisions that I made were fully debated with the American people and that I was getting out of Washington and spending more time shaping public opinion and being in a conversation with the American people about why I was making the choices I was making.Town hall meeting, University of Maryland, July 22, 2011:
Beyond that, I also think that over the first two years I was so focused on policy and getting the policy right, that sometimes I forgot part of my job is explaining to the American people why we’re doing this policy and where we’re going.