Obama: Weed Is Not 'More Dangerous Than Alcohol'

David Remnick profiles the cautious president

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 19, 2014 2:40 PM CST

(Newser) – President Obama takes the long view, considers the odds in any decision, sees both sides of the story, doesn't particularly like schmoozing—ring a bell? David Remnick's New Yorker profile won't exactly change your view of the president, but it does offer a few news nuggets, like the fact that Michelle is already writing a memoir and the president will write one after leaving office. Among Obama's better quotes:

  • On marijuana: It is "a bad habit and a vice," he says, but "I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol." Also, it's not fair that minority kids are punished for smoking it "when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing."

  • On football: "I would not let my son play pro football." Yet despite reports of concussions and early-onset dementia, Obama likes watching the sport. NFL players "know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret."
  • On legalizing gay marriage: It’s "fair to say that I may have come to that realization slightly before I actually made the announcement" favoring it in 2012. In fact, he filled out a questionnaire in 1996 saying that he favored legalization.
  • On his handling of Syria: "You’ll recall that that was the previous end of my presidency, until it turned out that we are actually getting all the chemical weapons. And no one reports on that anymore."
  • On al-Qaeda: He once vowed to "decimate" the group, Remnick notes, but its flag now flies in Iraq. Says Obama: "The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant."
  • On bugging German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "It was a breach of trust, but there are European governments that we know spy on us, and there is a little bit of Claude Rains in Casablanca—shocked that gambling is going on."
  • On his overall effect: As president, "you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history. You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward."
Click for Remnick's full piece.

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington.
President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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