During an oddly jokey statement at the White House as the fiscal deadline bore down Monday afternoon, President Obama said, "I'm going to be president for the next four years. I hope." He was warning Republicans that, yes, they'd have to deal with him for a while. But it was, to be sure, a strange moment. Could he actually have been joking about assassination? About impeachment? The apocalypse? Or has everyone just had enough of these negotiations?
Maybe Obama just let all those comparisons to Lincoln get to him. During the fiscal cliff talks, pundits have occasionally compared the negotiations to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, in which Abraham Lincoln uses all kinds of tricks and bribes to get Congress to pass the 13th Amendment. On Meet the Press Sunday, for example, Obama said, "People have been asking me a lot about the — the film Lincoln and, you know..." Host David Gregory responded, "Is this your Lincoln moment?" Obama made it clear he'd been thinking about it:
Well, no. Look, A) I never compare myself to Lincoln and, B) obviously the magnitude of the issues are quite different from the Civil War and slavery. The point, though is, is democracy's always been messy. And, you know, we're a big, diverse country that is-- is constantly sort of arguing about all kinds of stuff but eventually we do the right thing.
Of course, after the House of Representatives did the right thing — abolish slavery — Lincoln's presidency was cut short by assassination. We're all for dark humor, but it sounded a little scary coming from the president himself — even though he did trip over another metaphor:
Obama: "We have to shove spending cuts down...well...down..." Laughter.— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) December 31, 2012
Weird. Obama: "I'm going to be President for the next 4 years, I hope."— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) December 31, 2012
Weird, dark moment from Obama, contemplating assassination or impeachment.— Matt O'Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) December 31, 2012