President Obama was asked in a CNN interview today what it would take now to get his important programs enacted after the failure of his health care reform and shocking democratic election losses in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts.
"I don't think people know how really, really, really, really, really, really hard this job is," the clearly irritated President said, "when you're trying to help people. We're going to need a serious crisis to shake things up."
After a reminder that his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, said in November of 2008 that, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste," when referring to the severe economic recession of 2008, the President paused thoughtfully. Then he offered, "Rahm was wrong to say that. That just wasn't a serious enough crisis, apparently."
"The American people are going to need a crisis the likes of which they've never seen," said Obama, "in order to divert their attention long enough for me to achieve real change. And a single crisis may not be enough."
Asked if he'd considered what kind of crises would be sufficient, the President offered, "Yes. In fact, it's all I think about these days. By my calculation, it will take multiple class 5 hurricanes hitting our shores, caused by global warming, at least a few successful terrorist attacks motivated by our unrestricted contributions to global warming, perhaps a flu epidemic more severe than the pandemic of 1918 made worse by greedy health insurance companies, a catastrophic failure of our economic system due to dramatically expanding federal deficits, and finally, and this is an important point, the untimely deaths of 5 particular Supreme Court Justices."
A shocked CNN reporter wondered out loud if the President knew that over six hundred thousand Americans died of the flu in 1918 and that many thousands more Americans would die if these "catastrophes" came to pass. A clearly irritated President responded, "Look, I don't want people to suffer unfairly. I want to help people and I'm telling you what it's going to take to get it done."
"At some point," said a somber President, "people will have to suffer unimaginably before they are willing to give up their personal liberty, their right to private property and the expectation of a better economic life. I'm just giving you one possible scenario that would lead to the kind of change people voted for in the last election, okay?"
In an effort to soften the President's remarks, a White House spokesman later issued a statement explaining that the President was "speaking hypothetically" and that he "would not be personally pleased to see these events come to pass, but that he would stand ready to implement his legislative agenda at the right time."