New and historic tag team Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff interviewed President Barack Obama Wednesday night for Newshour and PBS has very kindly put the whole thing online. It was a big week to get a one-on-one with the President: Obama talked about the situation in Syria (he hasn't made a decision yet) and reflected on race in America as pegged to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
In speaking about Syria, Obama said he knew Americans are worried about getting involved in a repeat of the Iraq War. He also used a lot of "ifs" to speak about freedom:
If the United States stands by its core values and its core interests; if we're very clear about making sure that we're stopping terrorist attacks against the United States; if we are very clear about our commitment to the safety and security of Israel; if we are clear about the free flow of energy throughout the region that affects the entire global economy, but also if we're clear about our values, that we believe in inclusive governments, that we believe in the protection of minorities, that we believe in the protection of women's rights, that we believe that over time it's better for governments to be representative of the will of their people as opposed to being dictated to by authoritarian governments – if we are consistent in those principles, then eventually I think we will be better off. But it doesn't mean that we're not going to have some very difficult problems in the meantime.
The issue of race made up the second half of Obama's interview, which ran a little less than half an hour. The President said he wanted to push Congress to "amend the Voting Rights Act to ensure that people aren't be prevented from voting" in lieu of the recent Supreme Court decision (though if they don't "move real quickly" he'll do what he needs to do to get that done). He also wants to see an increase in the minimum wage.
When Woodruff asked the President point blank if it bothered him that while the economy has stabilized, his policies haven't helped regular people outside of Washington, Obama said, "It certainly weighs on me." Doing a big interview with another reporter isn't easy, but Ifill and Woodruff certainly made it look simple.