Obama Tells Bill Simmons Why He Seems So Much Cooler And Fearless In 2015
By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Nov 17, 2015 8:46PM
Obama, GQ's Man of the Year
President Barack Obama has sat down (again) with Bill Simmons for an interview in the White House, this time for GQ. Simmons calls 2015 a "career year" for the president, and you better believe the sports metaphors and references don't end there.
There's some fun Obama trivia in the interview: his favorite TV guilty pleasure is Big Break on the Golf Channel, he most identifies with Peter Dinklage's character on Game Of Thrones (whose name, Tyrion Lannister, neither can remember) and he has fantasized about putting together his own NBA team. He also is, pardon the pun, bullish on Derrick Rose.
But Simmons also asks Obama the question that has been on the mind of all his supporters as they've watched him morph into DGAF Obama in his second term. Obama explains how his record and experience have given him some leeway to get a little looser and cockier as time has gone on:
There’s no doubt that the longer I’m in this job, the more confident I am about the decisions I’m making and more knowledgeable about the responses I can expect. And as a consequence, you end up being looser. There’s not much I have not seen at this point, and I know what to expect, and I can anticipate more than I did before.
I [also] have a case to make now that was harder to make earlier in my presidency. We had confidence, for example, that the economic decisions that we made to stabilize the financial system and pass Wall Street reform and raise taxes on the wealthiest and pass health care—that would have a payoff. But because we had been in such a deep hole, we had to be careful about crowing success when people weren’t feeling it. And it wasn’t really until around 2014 where the attitude of the American people was, “The economy’s improving, I’m feeling better.”
"Tough stretches" in his presidency have made him fearless, he says: "Not only do you not look like you have any fear, but you actually don’t have any fear. And I don’t at this point."
Obama also spends a lot of time talking about the limits of being president on big issues like gun control and police violence. He explains why he didn't come out swinging during Ferguson: "You know, the challenge of Ferguson and all issues related to police shootings, race, and the criminal-justice system is that in order to actually get something done, you have to build consensus. Expressing simple outrage without follow-up is often counterproductive."
Obama doesn't endorse anyone to be the next president, but there is one thing he'll miss about the campaign trail: "I would’ve enjoyed campaigning against Trump. That would’ve been fun."
This interview happened before ESPN killed Grantland, the sports and pop culture outlet Simmons founded before being ousted. "It’s really aggravating not having you on Grantland. I go to the site and there’s no Simmons. Come on, man, it’s not the same."
Simmons calls this an "alpha-male trick," which is such a Simmons phrase. Anyway, here's a Vine of the moment for posterity: