The 6 Moments You Need to Hear From NPR's Interview with Obama


Last week, President Barack Obama conducted his final press conference of 2015. As he continues to finish out the year, the man who is redefining lame-duckhood is not mincing words. His recent sit-down with NPR's Steve Inskeep was proof: Obama spoke candidly about his strategy for defeating ISIS, why the Republican candidates don't stand a chance in the upcoming election and the one piece of advice he has for his successor. Here's the gist of what you may have missed:

1. "The most damage [ISIS] can do though is if they start changing how we live and what our values are." 

Obama said that during the rest of his time in office, he'll devote himself to making sure the United States doesn't allow terrorism to divide the nation. "Part of my message ... is just to make sure we remember who we are and to make sure our resilience, our values, our unity, are maintained," he said. "If we do that, ISIL will be defeated." 

Did you hear that, Donald Trump? Louder now, for the candidates in the back.

2. "When you listen to [the critics] though and you ask them what exactly they're talking about, they say, 'We're going to bomb more.' Well, who exactly are you going to bomb? When you talk about something like 'carpet bombing' what exactly do you mean?"

Obama repeatedly referred to his "critics," but these comments are pretty pointed toward Republican candidates like Ted Cruz, who proposed a carpet-bombing plan at the most recent GOP debate. He went on to say that his administration's approach to ISIS is far more calculated. "You bomb ISIL. You're not trying to bomb innocent people, and that requires intelligence and confidence in our military to develop the kinds of targets we need," Obama said. "I make no apologies for us wanting to do this appropriately and in a way that's consistent with American values." 

Though Obama may have veiled his critiques of the rest of the GOP candidates, he didn't hesitate to single out Trump for capitalizing on Americans' fears and frustrations, which he said are often misdirected. "I think someone like Mr. Trump has taken advantage of that," he said. "That's what he's been exploiting throughout the course of his campaign." 

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3. "I'm confident that a Democrat will win the White House." 

Obama thinks Democrats have clear path to leadership, when it comes to both the presidency and Congress. He said, "When you look at the quality of our democratic candidates and what the Republican Party seems to be offering up, I think we'll do well ... [and] I think we have a good chance of winning back the Senate."

4. "Keep in mind that the Republican Party in the United States is perhaps literally the only major party in the developed world that is still engaging in climate denial."

Even far right parties in other places acknowledge that science shows the temperatures are rising and that's a really dangerous thing and we've got to do something about it," Obama continued. He said that he believes the policies in place affecting the private sector will eventually incentivize Republicans to get on board with addressing climate change. 

5. "I think it's a healthy thing for young people to be engaged and to question authority, and to ask why this instead of that and to ask tough questions about social justice."

Obama has hope for the younger generations, who he said are more socially aware and tolerant than ever. But without getting specific, Obama said he has some reservations about political discourse on college campuses. He said, "What I don't want is a situation in which particular points of view that are presented reasonably and respectively are shut down." Obama noted this is a problem both on the left and the right.

6. "What I would say to my successor is it is important not just to shoot but to aim."

Obama gave this advice with regards to ISIS, but it's not a bad idea for his successor to consider applying this theory on a broader level. "It's important in this seat to make sure you're making your best judgments based on data, intelligence, the information coming from your commanders and folks on the ground, and you're not being swayed by politics," Obama said.

Watch the entire interview here: