Vice Founder to Obama: ‘How Do You Handle’ the ‘Negative Stuff’ from Critics?

In a Vice News interview posted on Monday, founder Shane Smith used the first of many softball questions to President Barack Obama to ask how does he “handle the controversies, the negativity” and whether or not he’s “a masochist.”

With subjects ranging from global warming to political gridlock to marijuana legalization, Smith was far from a tough interviewer and allowed the President to, without any pushback, bash Republicans, dismiss the midterm election results (again), and claim that the Iran letter by Senate Republicans is something that’s never done before to a president.

Leading into the gooey first question, Smith prefaced it by connecting criticism toward Obama to blowback he sees himself whenever he writes environmental articles: 

I do a lot of environmental pieces and whenever I do an environmental piece, out come the bots, out come the eggs, you know, on Twitter because there’s all kinds of negative stuff that they want to cause doubt. That’s everyday for you. How do you do it? How do you handle the controversies, the negativity? Why be president? Are you a masochist? 

From there, a large portion of the roughly 18-minute video was spent discussing global warming and included Smith praising Obama’s plan for addressing the issue in his final two years in office as “rational, sane” and “a great answer.” In addition, some of that time was spent attacking Republican Senator Jim Inhofe (Okla.) for holding views contrary to theirs on the existence and prevalence of global warming.

Referring to Inhofe recently “[t]hrowing a snowball” on the Senate floor, Smith declared to that President that such an action “would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that he’s Senate Chairman of the Committee on the Environment.”

With such opposition in Congress on the issue, Smith lamented to Obama that “you have a very sane and rational plan, but we’re not acting in a sane or rational way.” 

Even though “the environment or global warming is number one issue for Gen Y,” the Vice founder changed gears to asking the President about “dysfunction” in Washington, which allowed Obama to play the role of outsider by agreeing that it’s frustrating “[f]rom the inside too.”

Smith’s liberal tilt continued by wishing that Washington would be like “the younger generation” where, on issues such as global warming, “there is no debate”:

Washington, if you look at global warming, for example, and you’re right, the younger generation, there is no debate, yet they see this fighting, this gridlock in Washington or for other things. For example, just now, sort of chicken that’s being played with Department of Homeland Security, for example.

The final questions of the interview concerned a key issue for many of Vice’s left-wing, young readers in marijuana legalization. Smith broached the topic by identifying it as “our number one question from everyone on the internet” and predicted that widespread legalization “seems like an inevitability.” 

With that as backdrop, Smith wanted Obama’s thoughts on pot since, “if you legalize marijuana, it would the biggest part of your legacy.”

The relevant portions of the Vice News interview with President Obama taped on March 9 and posted on March 16 are transcribed below.

Vice News Interview with President Barack Obama
March 16, 2015

VICE FOUNDER SHANE SMITH: We announced we were going to be talking to you and we said on the internet, send us some questions because we want to have a dialogue with our audience and we’ll ask the president and the internet blew up. It was incredible. I do a lot of environmental pieces and whenever I do an environmental piece, out come the bots, out come the eggs, you know, on Twitter because there’s all kinds of negative stuff that they want to cause doubt. That’s everyday for you. How do you do it? How do you handle the controversies, the negativity? Why be president? Are you a masochist? 

(....)

OBAMA: If I can encourage and gain commitments from the Chinese to put forward a serious plan to start curbing their greenhouse gases and that then allows us to leverage the entire world for the conference that’ll be taking place this year in Paris, and if I’m able to double fuel efficiency standards and if I’m able to make appliances more efficient and to double the production of clean energy. If I’m do all those things now, when I’m done, we’re still going to have a heck of a problem, but we will have made enough progress that the next president and the next generations can start building on it and start getting some momentum.

SMITH: Which is rational, sane, it’s a great answer. However, you have people, for example, you have Senator Inhofe, who’s throwing snowballs, whose saying –

OBAMA: That wasn’t too good.

SMITH: – it’s the biggest hoax perpetrated on the American public is that we can do anything about climate change or that it’s even real.

(....)

SMITH: Throwing a snowball would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that he’s Senate Chairman of the Committee on the Environment.

OBAMA: That’s disturbing. 

SMITH: So, you have a very sane and rational plan, but we’re not acting in a sane or rational way.

(....)

SMITH: In our research, the environment or global warming is number one issue for Gen Y, but another issue is dysfunction. You know, it seems that, from the outside –

OBAMA: From the inside too.

SMITH: That Washington, if you look at global warming, for example, and you’re right, the younger generation, there is no debate, yet they see this fighting, this gridlock in Washington or for other things. For example, just now, sort of chicken that’s being played with Department of Homeland Security, for example.

(....)

SMITH: Our number one question from everyone on the internet was, and this might seem flippant, but war on drugs with too many people in prisons, like we said, hurting education. States are legalizing marijuana, it seems like an inevitability.

(....)

SMITH: For young people, I’m sorry, but if you legalize marijuana, it would the biggest part of your legacy. So, what are your thoughts on that?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, it shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority.

SMITH: Right, it was our most popular.

NB Daily Environment Global Warming Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Vice Obama Watch Video Government & Press President Barack Obama President Obama Shane Smith Barack Obama
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