Monday, April 19, 2021

President Obama Tells Joe Madison He Will ‘Absolutely’ Take Vaccine if Dr. Fauci Says it’s Safe / LISTEN

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A White House nurse prepares to administer the H1N1 vaccine to President Barack Obama at the White House on Dec. 20, 2009.

*Today President Barack Obama pre-taped an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison to promote his new memoir, A Promised Land.

When asked about African-Americans potentially being skeptical about taking a COVID-19 vaccine given past medical experiments on the community, President Obama said he would “absolutely” take the vaccine himself:

“People like Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely. So if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I’m going to take it…. And I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it. I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting COVID. I think at this point, particularly in the African-American community, we are – African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans – we have the highest death rates from this thing, and are most exposed and most vulnerable, in part because we have a lot of preexisting conditions.”

He also spoke about which world leaders were both the best and most challenging to deal with during his presidency, answering Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin, respectively: “[Merkel] was smart, reliable, a great ally, tough…. really held Europe together and fought back against some of this resurgent far-right politics in Europe. I really admire her a lot…. Even though personally, [Putin] and I were always courteous with each other, the fact of the matter is, is that he was suspicious of America, resented American power, and his belief that we had taken advantage of Russia when it was flat on its back after the end of the Cold War.

Audio highlights and transcripts are below, and the interview will air in full tomorrow morning at 7:20am ET on SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” (Urban View channel 126).

Joe Madison & Barack Obama
Joe Madison and Barack Obama

President Obama on African-Americans and Other People Doubting the Vaccine: I May Take It On TV Just So People Know “I Trust This Science”

JOE MADISON, HOST: Can you talk about, you know, every job has its surprises, and one of the surprises was the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, and you write in the book how you were familiar with it. It scared you, as you said, it scared you to death because you were familiar with the Spanish Flu epidemic, and you write in detail what you had to do with the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control. It’s a two-part question. One, were you vaccinated when it became time for the H1N1 flu, the virus, and part two, a lot of discussion on my show about particularly whether African-Americans – because you know our history with medical experimentation – would you take the vaccine for the COVID-19?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A couple of things. H1N1, we were lucky that it was not as contagious, and it turned out not to be as deadly as we thought it was, or as COVID is. I’m still very proud of all the work we did around it, and it actually laid the foundation for us creating a pandemic playbook that helped us deal with Ebola when that came up. And that, by the way, we gave a whole blueprint to the Trump administration in terms of how they should deal with this and early warning systems, et cetera, that they completely ignored. So we did not end up having a widespread vaccination program for H1N1, just because we were able to stop it relatively early. In terms of COVID now, obviously at the end of the day, one of the great things about having Joe Biden and Kamala Harris back in charge  on January 20th, is they will also then put scientists and medical experts in charge.

And people like Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely. So if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I’m going to take it. And I understand, historically, everything dating back all the way to the Tuskegee experiments and so forth, why the African-American community would have some skepticism. But the fact of the matter is, is that vaccines are why we don’t have polio anymore. And they’re the reason why we don’t have a whole bunch of kids dying from measles, and smallpox, and diseases that used to decimate an entire populations and communities. So, you know, I think it is important for people to follow the guidelines that are going to be issued.

I anticipate that the vaccines will be first made available to people who are at highest risk. And if you are in that category, if you are elderly, if you’ve got a preexisting condition, if you’re a frontline worker, if you’re a medical worker, if you are in a grocery store, if you’re a first responder, you should take that vaccine. And I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it. I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting COVID. I think at this point, particularly in the African-American community, we are – African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans – we have the highest death rates from this thing, and are most exposed and most vulnerable, in part because we have a lot of preexisting conditions.

President Obama Shares Which World Leaders He Got Along with Best and Worst

JOE MADISON, HOST: I’m reading your book and there’s some parallels. I’m also reading the memoirs of [Ulysses S.] Grant, President Grant. A lot of similarities in what he went through, what you went through. Look, this is not a trick question, but of all the world leaders that you had to deal with during your presidency, which one, if you could answer this, did you have the most respect for, and I guess I would have to follow up with why? And the second one is, in the book, which ones did you have the most difficulty with?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s a legitimate and powerful question. Look, I met Mandela, but he was already very elderly, and obviously my reverence for him is at a different level. In terms of people who were in power when I was president, I would say that Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, was somebody who, although she came from a center-right party as opposed to center-left party, was smart, reliable, a great ally, tough. Our work together and cooperation on a whole bunch of international issues was exemplary. She’s still the Chancellor now because they don’t have term limits in Germany. I mean she’s been reelected multiple times and really held Europe together and fought back against some of this resurgent far-right politics in Europe. I really admire her a lot.

I think that the biggest challenge during my presidency was dealing with Putin. Even though personally, Putin of Russia, even though personally, he and I were always courteous with each other, the fact of the matter is, is that he was suspicious of America, resented American power, and his belief that we had taken advantage of Russia when it was flat on its back after the end of the Cold War. As I described in the book, he’s sort of like an old world boss kind of style of politics. It’s all about what’s in it for me and my crew and not necessarily thinking about broader issues. And, in Volume 2, I’ll get even deeper into some of the stuff that ended up resulting in him meddling in the U.S. Election. But, at the end of the day, though, Joe, the thing that I learned, and I described this in the book is you keep on thinking that at every level things are going to be different. You start off at the state legislature, you look around and you go, man, a lot of these folks, they are not informed, or they’re corrupt, or they’re power hungry. Then you get to Congress, you think it’s going to be better. Then you get to the world stage. Look, it turns out people are the same at each level. It’s just like high school. You got cliques and you got folks who are wonderful, and then you got some folks who’ve got an attitude. Human dynamics don’t change that much. And It’s part of what I try to present in the book so that if a young person wants to get involved in politics, want to get involved in public service, want to change the world, what I want them to come away with from reading this book is the fact that they can. It’s not something mysterious. It’s the same kinds of challenges and issues that all of us deal with in everyday life. It’s just done at a different level with higher stakes, but it’s something that I think everybody can understand.

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