President Obama surprised just about everyone today when he announced via his official Twitter that he would be participating in an AMA (ask me anything) for the website reddit. AMA is basically a live chat where anyone can submit a question and then other users vote your post up or down and then the participant answers the questions from the top vote-getters.
Obama participated in the chat — which he called “an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run” — for about a half hour. He opened with, “this is barack. Just finished a great rally in Charlottesville, and am looking forward to your questions. At the top, I do want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with folks who are dealing with Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf, and to let them know that we are going to be coordinating with state and local officials to make sure that we give families everything they need to recover.”
Obama responded to the unofficial slogan of the Internet – pics or it didn’t happen – by uploading the photo above to prove his identity. You can check out the full convo over on reddit, and click below to read some of the buzziest responses.
Is Internet Freedom an issue you’d push to add to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform?
“Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although their will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won’t stray from that principle – and it will be reflected in the platform.”
What was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this term?
“The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the taliban’s momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead – so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.”
Who’s your favourite Basketball player?
“Jordan – I’m a Bulls guy.”
(Question summarized) I’m a recent grad and I’m unemployed. How will you help?
“I understand how tough it is out there for recent grads. You’re right – your long term prospects are great, but that doesn’t help in the short term. Obviously some of the steps we have taken already help young people at the start of their careers. Because of the health care bill, you can stay on your parent’s plan until you’re twenty six. Because of our student loan bill, we are lowering the debt burdens that young people have to carry. But the key for your future, and all our futures, is an economy that is growing and creating solid middle class jobs – and that’s why the choice in this election is so important. The other party has two ideas for growth – more taxs cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we’ve put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers. These ideas have been tried, they didnt work, and will make the economy worse. I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote all-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year. I don’t promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don’t be discouraged – we didn’t get into this fix overnight, and we won’t get out overnight, but we are making progress and with your help will make more.”
While the President didn’t say anything you wouldn’t expect to hear at a campaign rally (save for a promise of White House beer), it was certainly a presidential first. And he wrapped up his chat by reminding everyone to vote in November. His final thought? “By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience – NOT BAD!”
So there you have it. The first Internet town square (save for those YouTube Debates). In the meantime, let’s talk about that verification photo. His serious expression and near-bare walls are asking for a caption. What’s he doing, besides answering questions? Reading the latest on Rob/Kristen? Writing a Mac product review? Updating his job resume? (ooph) Caption contest in the comments!