A Less-Restrained Obama Finally Says 'Bucket' : It's All Politics With no elections left to run, President Obama appears to be acting on his joke from earlier this year about having a to-do list that, well, rhymes with "bucket."
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A Less-Restrained Obama Finally Says 'Bucket'

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A Less-Restrained Obama Finally Says 'Bucket'

A Less-Restrained Obama Finally Says 'Bucket'

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Many politicians are extra careful about what they say. President Obama is one of them. But NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports increasingly the president is using whatever words he wants to. A warning to our listeners, you'll hear President Obama use a word that many find offensive.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: During his standup routine at the White House Correspondents' dinner earlier this year, President Obama came right out and said it. Well, almost.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After the midterm elections, my advisers asked me, Mr. President, do you have a bucket list? And I said, well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.

(LAUGHTER)

KEITH: Obama's bucket is obviously a euphemism.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: Take executive action on immigration? Bucket.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: New climate regulations? Bucket.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: It's the right thing to do.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: Add to that list normalizing relations with Cuba and pushing through trade legislation by teaming up with Republicans and taking on unions. But beyond policy, Obama seems more willing lately to just say it like he sees it. Take last week when he shouted down a heckler at a White House reception.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. Hey, yeah, listen. You're in my house.

KEITH: And then there was Obama's appearance on comedian Marc Maron's podcast. It's called WTF, and it's taped in his garage.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, WTF)

OBAMA: Am I in the orange chair?

MARC MARON: Orange chair for you, Mr. President.

OBAMA: Outstanding.

KEITH: On the podcast, Obama alluded to his youthful drug use and talked extensively about his own racial identity. And when talking about racism in America, he used a word we have to warn you is coming.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, WTF)

OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of it.

MARON: Clearly.

OBAMA: And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.

KEITH: It's a point Obama has made before but never quite so bluntly. Then on Friday, Obama did something else it's hard to imagine him doing earlier in his presidency.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNERAL SERVICE)

OBAMA: (Singing) Amazing...

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: (Singing) ...Grace...

KEITH: He sang in front of thousands of mourners at the funeral of Rev. Clemente Pinckney. He was off-key at times, and it simply didn't matter.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNERAL SERVICE)

OBAMA: (Singing) ...That saved a wretch like me.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing) That saved a wretch like me.

KEITH: In Obama's WTF podcast interview, he described a certain fearlessness that comes after six and a half years in the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, WTF)

OBAMA: I've been in the barrel tumbling down Niagara Falls.

MARON: Yeah.

OBAMA: And I emerged, and I lived. And that's always a - that's such a liberating feeling.

KEITH: Or in other words, bucket. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House.

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