The hour-glass of President Barack Obama’s last days in office is almost empty and during his last press conference, he told reporters gathered that he didn’t always like the stories they filed, but he appreciated and respected them for speaking truth to power.
“You’re not supposed to be sycophants; you’re supposed to be skeptics,” Obama said. “You’re supposed to ask me tough questions. You’re not supposed to be complimentary, but you’re supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power.”
President Obama also talked about how his daughters, Sasha, 15, and Malia, 18, handled Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College loss to Donald Trump.
“They were disappointed,” Obama said. “They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it because it’s consistent with what we’ve tried to teach them in our household, what I’ve tried to model as a father with their mom and what we’ve asked them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses.”
And to the many people in the nation shaken by his impending exit from 1600 Penn. Ave., Obama said there are issues that may cause him to enter the political fray as a private citizen, even as he reiterated that he will not run for elective office.
“In a democracy, sometimes you’re going to win on those issues and sometimes you’re going to lose,” he said. “But there’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.
“I’d put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion,” Obama continued. “I’d put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I’d would put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent, or the press.
“And for me at least,” he added. “I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them some place else.”
Perhaps most notably, Obama talked about Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the oppression of the Palestinian people:
I don’t see how this gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel in a way that both Jewish and a democracy. Because if you do not have two states, then, in some form of fashion, you are extending an occupation. Functionally, you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class occupants or residents. You can’t even call them citizens necessarily. The growth of the settlements are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible.
In true Obama fashion, he left the nation with a message of hope.
“There are a lot more good people than bad in this country,” he said. “I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad. I believe tragic things happen. I think there’s evil in the world but I think that at the end of the day, if we work hard, and if we’re true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time. That’s what this presidency has tried to be about.”
Watch the full presser below: