One More Week Until White House Transition
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
This presidential transition may be a reminder that not everything changes just because the White House is changing occupants, even changing parties. President-elect Obama takes office in just over a week. President Bush is on his way out. Yet there are times when the two men sound quite similar. NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts joins us, as she does every Monday. Cokie, good morning.
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: (Soundbite of "This Week" interview.)
INSKEEP: When I've set up the hierarchy of things that I've got to do, my number one priority every single day that I wake up is, how do I make sure that the American people are safe?
INSKEEP: OK. So that's Barack Obama speaking. Although you could imagine President Bush saying that.
ROBERTS: And that came up again with Obama when he was asked about prosecuting anyone for past actions that might be considered torture. And he said firmly that while he wanted to be clear that he considered waterboarding to be torture, and there would be no torture in his administration, that he was very careful on the question of prosecution. He said he wanted to look forward rather than backward, and he didn't want to do anything that would have intelligence professionals, whom he described as extraordinarily talented people, he didn't want to have those intelligence professionals looking over their shoulders. That also sounded very similar to President Bush.
INSKEEP: Although wait a minute, let me ask about something where the two men have sounded very different. At least they sounded different when Barack Obama was seeking votes. President Bush opened a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. President-elect Obama, when he was campaigning, said he would close it.
ROBERTS: Well, and he's - continues to say he will close it. But he said, don't expect that to happen in his first hundred days, because quote, "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize." He said, look, the problem here is is that you've got a lot of bad guys whose prosecutions might be tainted. The evidence against them might have been gotten in ways that are not right quite legal. But you still don't want to let them loose, because they are - there are dangerous people. So he's clearly having some difficulty figuring it out.
INSKEEP: Is he figuring out his economic stimulus plan?
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
ROBERTS: And meanwhile, the Obama team is helping the Bush team lobby for the release of the second $350 billion of the bailout package passed last fall. The package called TARP, which is highly unpopular with the American people, but they both say it's got to get done.
INSKEEP: Any chance that Congress won't come up with the money?
ROBERTS: No. I think that in the end, the economy is in such dire straits, and President-elect Obama reiterated that again yesterday, that the Congress will have to act, and they will. But they are going to do their best to get whatever they can before that.
INSKEEP: OK. Thanks very much. That's NPR's Cokie Roberts, who joins us every Monday morning. Always a pleasure to hear from you, Cokie.
ROBERTS: Thank you.
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