tv The Legacy of Barack Obama CNN December 25, 2016 6:00am-8:01am PST
barack obama's america was born with hope, people were crying in the streets. >> and with crisis. >> fragile financial system. >> likely to get worse before it gets better. >> financial panic. >> we were hanging on the edge of a cliff. >> health care hysteria. >> why don't they take the health care being forced down our throats. >> two wars. >> mass shootings. >> a gunman opens fire. >> a spray of bullets.
>> mass killing. >> racial violence. >> if i had a son he would look like trayvon. >> this guy is a racist. >> but barack obama made some big bets that paid off. >> troops came home. gays got married. >> america has lived up to her promise of liberty and justice for all. >> enemies were vanquished. >> justice has been done. >> millions got health care. >> obamacare. ♪ amazing grace ♪ ♪ >> and sometimes, tragedy gave birth to hope. >> that was a profoundly important moment. >> but as a new era begins -- >> your moment of liberation is at hand. >> what will remain? >> the president just smiled and said i'm a black guy named
barack hussein obama and i'm president of the united states, i feel lucky every day. >> what is the legacy of barack obama? he may be the most improbable president in american history. in 2003, he was a state senator from illinois. >> the intent of this bill -- >> an unknown african-american politician named barack obama. that he could be elected to the white house. five years later, he was. >> to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. >> he entered on a wave of hope and promise. he leaves office with robust approval ratings that place him in a small club. dwight eisenhower, ronald reagan and bill clinton. but by the end of his presidency, the country was consumed by a wave of protests so strong that it had dashed the prospects of hisutative successor, hillary clinton.an
elected to the white house his polar opposite. >> make america great again. >> a man who promised to erase the obama presidency. how did it happen? to understand that, we have to ask what is the legacy of barack obama. the late publisher of the "washington post," phillip graham, once said the journalism is the first rough draft of history. that's what we've tried to put together here. we will show you that love him or hate him, there is little doubt that obama has been one of the most consequential presidents in american history. notice i didn't say successful. time alone can make that judgment. but obama sought to effect broad transforming changes in america. he used his power to make some very big bets. what happens to that legacy if those bets are now undone?
race in america is in the eye of the beholder, we call barack obama our first african-american president because of the color of his skin. but in truth, he is of course biracial. born of an african father and a white mother from kansas. >> the first line of your biography will almost certainly be not something you did, but who you are. the first african-american president. and yet, you're half white. you were raised by three white people, your mother, and your two grandparents. >> and an indonesian. >> are you comfortable with this characterization of you? >> i am, actually. and the concept of race in america is not just genetic. otherwise the one drop rule wouldn't have made sense. it's cultural. it's this notion of a people,
who look different than the mainstream. suffering terrible oppression, but somehow being able to make out of that a music and a language and a faith. and a patriotism. >> being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness and your own defeat. >> barack obama once felt quite differently about race. >> and the final irony should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that, too. a name that could cage you just as good. like paranoid. or militant. or violent. or nigger. >> at a reading from his first book, "dreams from my father" he told a painful story from his childhood when his grandmother expressed fear of a man at her bus stop, his grandfather became
very angry. >> she's been bothered by men before. you know why she's so scared this time? i'll tell you why, before you came in she told me the fellow was black. fear shook under my feet, ready to crack open any moment. i stopped, trying to steady myself. and kne for the first time that i was utterly alone. >> the poet william wordsworth wrote the child is the father of the man. how to reconcile this troubled boy with the man who grew up to be president. >> the fact that his mother was white from canses can, his daddy was an african from kenya, he brings together the unimaginable opposites in american society. in one body unites them. >> having this unclear understanding of where he fit into the american story. i think he somehow was able to
tell himself that he might be able to be a person who could bring people together. >> barack obama, 47 years old. will become the president-elect of the united states. >> a seismic shift in american politics. >> this is truly an incredible moment from american history. >> november 4th, 2008. a joyous historic moment. >> because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to america. >> we saw what happened, people were crying in the streets. there were people who were crying in the streets, who did not vote for him. >> the idea that a black family, would occupy the white house. there was a reason why people
were saying that over and over. >> i, barack hussein obama, do solemnly swear -- >> two million people packed into washington for the inauguration. >> so help you god? >> so help me god. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> to look from the capitol down towards the washington monument, and to see just this sea of faces, and people had american flags. it was just absolutely extraordinary. >> the president of the united states. >> that night, barack and michelle obama to a song sung by
beyonce, the title told the story. ♪ at last ♪ my love has come along >> it seemed like a fairy tale beginning. but at precisely the moment the first couple began swaying on the dance floor, the central crisis of the obama presidency was already taking shape. >> within half a mile of where obama and michelle are dancing and celebrating their great victory, his republican opponents are wining and dining and plotting his defeat. >> 15 of the most powerful republicans in washington made a pact that night. >> out of that meeting, they decide that the only way to win back power is to oppose obama at every level. >> that fierce unrelenting opposition would haunt the next
eight years. and what began as whispers, is now discussed openly. did race play a role in the brick wall of republican resistance to barack obama? >> it's an indisputable that there was a ferocity to the opposition. and a lack of respect to him that was a function of race. >> i can't name one thing that this congress supported this president on. in eight years. >> you have to have an extraordinary explanation for this level obstruction. >> david axelrod says at least one powerful republican was personally disrespectful to obama. >> said to him, we don't really think you should be here. but the american people thought otherwise. so we're going to have to work with you. >> republicans have strongly rejected charges that race played a role in their
opposition. >> i, like a lot of americans, am concerned and disagree with the president's policies and approaches from the stimulus spending to this health care strategy. am i racist because i disagree with that? i don't think so. >> there are people who dislike me because they think i'm a liberal. >> the president doesn't see racism in mainstream opposition to him. but he does see it on the fringes. >> i think there's a reason why attitudes about my presidency among whites in northern states are very different from whites in southern states. so you know, are there folks who, whose primary concern about me has been that i seem foreign? the other? are those who champion the birther movement. feeding off of bias? absolutely. >> the fact is if he wasn't born in this country, he shouldn't be president of the united states.
>> the loudest voice in the birther movement has now been elected president. >> why doesn't he give his birth certificate? he says he has a birth certificate. so either they don't have one, which is very bad, or there's something on it that he doesn't want people to see. >> the birther movement has roots in racism, there's no, no question about it. >> i have people that actually have been studying and they cannot believe what they're finding. >> you have people now down there searching in hawaii in. >> absolutely. and they cannot believe what they're finding. if he wasn't born in this country, he's pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics. >> they found nothing. and the white house released obama's long-form birth certificate. finally, the president had his say. >> no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than the donald. and that's because he can
finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter. like did we fake the moon landing. and where are biggie and tupac? >> he thought it absurd that large numbers of people could accept or believe it. >> the first racial controversy to rock the obama presidency came in july of 2009. >> a professor at harvard university tried to get in his own home in cambridge, mass, and he wound up under arrest. >> henry louis gates, a friend of obama's had been trying to open his own front door. >> i don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. but i think it's fair to say number one, any of us would be pretty angry. number two, that the cambridge
police acted stupidly. >> the president of the united states says what anybody in washington would say. it was stupid to arrest one of the most famous profeors in the world in their house for being in their house. >> there was a very different response on the right. >> this president i think has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. i don't know what it is. this guy is, i believe, a racist. >> he didn't say anything about the race of the police officer, about the race of the professor. >> obama apologized. >> i could have calibrated those words differently. >> he invited the police officer to the white house. for a beer. >> black moral witness falls silent, because if the president can't talk about this, without being sent to the woodshed to be on equal basis with some random cop.
it's over. >> t timing of the gates' arrest is important. >> stop obama now! >> it was the first time obama had addressed a racial controversy as president. but it was also at the height of his health care fight. rage over obamacare was turning to race. >> afro-leninism, coming to you on a silver platter. >> all of it led to several years in which the president avoid the topic of race. >> 1960 officer to 1960 retreat view circle. >> your name? >> george. >> the violent death of one teenaged boy in florida. put race back front and center. >> trayvon martin was on his way home from buying candy when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
>> zimmerman is not a racist. trayvon martin would be alive today if he wasn't wearing thug wear, if he wasn't wearing that hoodie. >> no justice, no peace! >> the president's response was personal. >> when i think about t boy, i think about my own kids. you know if i had a son he would look like trayvon. >> within months case after case began to make headlines. young black men dying at the hands of law enforcement. >> don't shoot him. don't shoot him. >> the details were often disputed. >> but the rage was clear. shut it down! african-americans did battle with the police.
and a new civil rights group, black lives matter, quickly grew in number. some in the african-american community turned their rage on barack obama. >> stop telling black folk they got to wait and these things take time. we can't wait. mr. president, when you say we can't compare what's happening now to what happened 50 years ago, tell that to the parths of the kids being gunned down on open streets. >> the president faced an impossible challenge -- to be black enough to satisfy african-americans, yet post-racial nust to reassure many whites. >> he never ran to be the first black president. he ran to be president of the united states and he happens to be black. >> you may not be the president of black america, but you are the president of black americans. >> he needed to become a force for healing. and finding the right way to do
that was something that he wrestled with. >> brand new "new york times" poll finds that 69% of americans say that race relations are bad. the highest level, not since the rodney king rio in 1992. >> relations between blacks and whites were at their worst point in a generation. >> if you want a black man to die, send the mr. is to kill hi. >> if they don't do something they're the bad guy, if they try to do something, they're the bad guys. what are we supposed to do? >> the suppressed racial feelings and the suppressed racial resentiments, actually rather than being quelled by obama's rise were unleashed by obama's rise. >> but no single moment in the obama presidency was at once so ugly and unifying as the charleston church shooting. >> the killing is being
investigated as a hate crime. >> you are raping our women, you are taking over our country. i have to do what i have to do. >> nine people murdered. the gunman said he wanted to start a race war. >> when president obama came to the emanuel a.m.e. church, his hesitance to speak frankly on race was gone. >> for too long we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the president. we now realize the way racial bias can affect us even when we don't realize it. oh, but god works in mysterious ways. god has different ideas. ♪ amazing grace ♪ that saved a wretch
capstone. that's the capstone. that's this man not just rediscovering who he is, but rediscovering who this country is. >> may god continue to shed his grace on the united states of america. when we come back -- >> the u.s. banking system remains in deep trouble. >> worst showing ever on an inaugural day. >> the first day, a day from hell. >> we could have a second great depression. >> nearly 1.2 million jobs have disappeared. >> stunningly scary moment. >> welcome to the white house. >> maybe because i was too new to panic. a high intensity tens device that uses technology once only in doctors' offices.
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day one -- the new president bows his head in prayer. i needed all the help he could get. he had been briefed, he was facing the worst economic crisis in decades. >> fragile financial system. >> likely to get worse before it gets better. >> larry summers says we're going to lose millions more jobs and we could have a second great depression. >> secretary of the treasury. >> tim geithner said the financial system is locked up and it might collapse. >> u.s. banking system remains in deep trouble. >> we were hanging on the edge of a cliff, we were starting down that, down into the abyss.
>> it was a stunningly scary moment. there was plenty of panic to go around. >> a troubled economy offering a harsh greeting to the new president, worst showing ever on an inaugural day. >> markets were collapsing. major banks were failing. >> i'm going to pull my money out. >> more than 100,000 americans were losing their homes every week. >> we're here to serve an eviction on you, you have to take off in about 15 minutes. >> soaring unemployment. >> 2008 nearly 1.2 million jobs have disappeared. >> still climbing. >> it was getting worse and we as a country had done a massive amount of things.
>> where do you start? >> which one of these piles of things that you want to start with? >> we had this big debate about what to do. >> it's your first day on the job and the world economy is collapsing. did you ever think to yourself, this is going to derail the country, my plans, my presidency? >> maybe because i was too new, to panic, i was very confident that we could get to the right answer. >> obama decides to go big. a stimulus bill that would pump $800 billion into the economy. tax cuts, money to save the jobs of cops and teachers and the rebuilding of roads and bridges. >> at this particular moment only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe. >> republicans hated it. they said it was too rushed and
hopelessly complex. >> i don't know you could read 1100 pages between midnight and now. not one member has read this. what happened to the promise we're going to let the american people see what's in this bill for 48 hours? but no. we don't have time to do that. >> the decisions that he was making to save the economy were all politically toxic. he had no illusions about that. >> still obama thought he could pry loose some republican votes. instead of the usual step of inviting them to the white house, he went to capitol hill. >> it was a very dramatic gesture on the part of the president as you know. >> to talk to republicans on their turf. >> hello, everybody. >> it did not go well. >> i could not find anybody who said at least in the house they would vote yes tomorrow. >> we had a wonderful exchange of ideas. >> not so much as it turned out. the republicans had made up
their minds before obama even arrived. >> my tri up to the hill, they released an email saying we're going to be voting against it before they had even heard our presentation. >> the stimulus passed, without a single vote from a house republican. >> they were making political decisions and we were trying to save the country from a disaster. >> this was a crucial moment in the history of the obama presidency. it was only the president's second month in office, the financial crisis was about to get even scarier, and yet it was already clear, republicans would hold firm to the vow they made as he entered the white house. >> mitch mcconnell says what his strategy is. they told you the strategy. it's not like you have to interpret it. they're overt about it. >> their desire to stop him was also going to have devastating consequences for the american
people and why? was it race is it or politics? or power? >> but obama was not blameless. republicans say he would not accept any of their ideas. >> no engagement in any way, shape or form. >> they found him unappealing. >> the republicans had a favorite word to describe the president and his policies. >> really arrogant. >> arrogant. >> i do think barack obama is arrogant. >> but now obama had to go it alone. and he was facing a new crisis. >> more troubles for gm and its workers. >> america's iconic car company, general motors, was in a death spiral. >> general motors right now i think we're all afraid. >> they were talking about two weeks and bankrupt. it was not two years, it was not we have a problem here. it was we think we can keep it
alive for two weeks. >> honk your horns! >> chrysler was collapsing as well. >> everybody is here for one common cause -- we want to keep our jobs. >> there were layoffs. plant closings. >> it's time to get pissed off! >> we cannot and must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. >> polls show almost two-thirds of the american people oppose bailing out the car companies. mitt romney, whose father ran a car company wrote an op-ed, let them go bankrupt. but barack obama decided to go all in. >> our government will be making a significant additional investment of about $30 billion in gm. >> the massive loan effectively made the u.s. government the owner of general motors. >> we own a car company. >> it's very scary. >> lenin and stalin would love this stuff. >> but even the auto bailout did
not spark as much rage as bank bonuses. >> multimillion-dollar bonuses, despite getting billions of your taxpayer bailout dollars. >> shame on you! >> that's right, millions in bonuses were being paid to the very same bankers who many thought had almost destroyed the world economy. >> it makes me feel disgusted. >> you're a ceo of a company like that, you shouldn't be able to drive a limo, you should ride your [ bleep ] on the subway like everybody else does. >> the anger came from all collections. >> what happened with these bonuses was a mugging on wall street. >> the bonuses were contractual obligations. but the administration understood. that the optics were awful. >> i did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on wall street. >> it looked like you were giving money to the arsonists and they were going to profit
while the country burned. >> then american anger over all of it seemed to find a voice. >> the government is promoting bad behavior. >> on the floor of the chicago mercantile exchange, a cnbc reporter named rick santelli went on an epic rant about bailouts. >> this is america, how many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage for a house that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills. president obama, aren't you listening? are or are we going to have a chicago tea party in july. all of you capitalists that want to show up, i'm going to organize. >> mayor daley is marshalling the police right now. >> it was a moment the tea party movement was born. in the end the banks were stale aized and credit began flowing to main street. the taxpayers got all their
money back, with interest from those bets. >> we saved the country from a failing financial system, but we lost the country doing it. >> and they lost big. >> even though obama's emergency rescue succeeded, the appearance that he was helping wall street rather than ordinary americans, that would prove very expensive. it cost him mountains of his political capital. just when he needed it. he was headed into a gathering storm. that would threaten the one thing he wanted most. that story later in the program. but first, how the president who brought down bin laden let the next big terror threat rise up and take over land americans had died for. >> let me ask you if it's possible in your position to be completely honest and say, the
you can handle being a mom for half an hour. i'm in all the way. is that understood? i don't know what she's up to, but it's not good. can't the world be my noodles and butter? get your mind out of the gutter. mornings are for coffee and contemplation. that was a really profound observation. you got a mean case of the detox blues. don't start a war you know you're going to lose. finally you can now find all of netflix in the same place as all your other entertainment. on xfinity x1. hello, everybody. >> december 14th, 2011, was a
great day for barack obama. it was the day he proudly announced that the troops were home from ir. >> welcome home. >> a campaign promise fulfilled. just in time for his re-election bid. but had the president taken his victory lap too early? three years later chaos had descended on iraq. cities that americans had bled for. mosul, ramadi. fallujah. had been lost again. to a deadly new terror group, is. >> let me ask you if it's possible in your position to be completely honest and say the
rise of the islamic state surprised you. it took you by surprise. it took the administration by surprise. >> the ability of isil to initiate major land offenses, thatas not on my intelligence radar screen. >> everyone was stunned. that a now thousand militants swept through iraq and syria, sowing fear in the region and the world. >> we'll chop off the americans, chop off the heads of the french. chop off the heads of whoever you may bring. >> they created a caliphate. >> ruled by strict sharia law, meting out punishments in the most barbaric ways imaginable. their philosophy may have been medievel but they were masters of the internet. >> come to jihad. >> i originally come from canada. >> luring thousands of recruits
from malaysia to belgium to new jersey. >> bullets fired into a cafe. >> killed at least 30 people in belgium. >> soon they would mount some of the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11. >> casting a large shadow over obama's presidency. >> to solve a problem. >> and an even larger one over the presidential election. >> the way they got out of iraq, the vacuum they've left, that's why isis formed in the first place. now they're in 32 different nations, hillary, congratulations, great job. >> so could president obama have prevented the rise of the islamic state? his critics point to a pivotal
decision. leaving iraq with just a handful of troops. his generals had wanted thousands more. >> i don't know whether 10,000 troops would have given us the leverage. i actually, i suspect it might not have. but i would have liked to have tested the proposition. >> but there was a problem, his predecessor, president bush, had signed an agreement with the iraqis, promising that all troops would be gone by the end of 2011. >> the only way in which we were going to keep troops there was at the invitation of the government and we couldn't get that done. >> we spent a considerable amount of time talking about syria. >> that government was run by this man, prime minister al maliki. perhaps most crucial, al maliki, a hard-line shiite, had mounted
a violent crackdown against sunni muslims throughout the country. as a result of of them had turned with desperation and defiance to isis. which is hard-line sunni and deeply anti-shiite. meanwhile another crucial decision faced the president. how to handle the growing crisis in neighboring syria. where jihadis were showing up to battle the regime of bashar al assad. >> we had reports coming from iraq that some of the fighters in al qaeda and iraq had moved to syria. >> robert ford, the u.s. ambassador to syria, witnessed the turmoil firsthand. >> two car bombings.
>> al qaeda in iraq. the group that morphed into isis, was suspected of masterminding a car bombing of syria's state security officers. >> a second car goes in to detonate. >> the criminal attack carries the blueprints of al qaeda. >> this is a hallmark tactic of al qaeda in iraq. >> back in washington, ambassador ford met with david petraeus, then the head of the c.i.a. the extremists in syria were getting stronger, he said. while the moderate rebels fighting assad were getting weaker. >> to do nothing, extremists will continue to gain ground, that's what our syrian contacts were telling us. this isn't rocket science. >> petraeus urged the white house to arm the moderates.
>> elements and then obviously a decision was not forthcoming to do that. for quite a very long time. >> the president was skeptical. he saw the syrian civil war as a quagmire. in which the moderates were too few, too weak, and too disorganized to prevail. >> i think this notion that somehow there was this ready-made moderate syrian force who was able to defeat bashar al assad is not true. >> then in august 2012, at a routine press conference obama appeared suddenly willing to use force against assad. >> a red line for us is we see a whole bunch of chemical weapons
being moved around or utilized, that would change my calculus. >> that red line was crossed a year later. >> a horrific sarin gas attack in a damascus suburb left hundreds dead. including many children. the president ordered the military to get ready for a strike. an attack was imminent. >> the drums of war are growing louder. >> the obama. >> there must be a response. >> but the president who wanted to end america's wars in the middle east was having second thoughts about starting a new one. he proposed what some saw as a delaying tactic. seek permission to fight from congress. some of his staff worried it was a mistake. but obama stood his ground. convinced that the american public was as weary of war as he
was. >> if one were to look at your statements on syria from the start, the red line and then your decision, the very last minute not to use military force, wouldn't it be fair for critics to say this shows inconsistency, perhaps it shows your own ambivalence, and yet you have seen it as one of your best moments. >> ambivalence, absolutely. it's hard with respect to my red line we positioned our military to be able to strike assad if he did not give up his chemical weapons. the fact is he got rid of his chemical weapons in an unprecedented way. >> the world will now expect the assad regime to live up to its public commitments.>> assad's allies in the kremlin, helped broker a deal that forced him to give up his chemical weapons stockpile. within a year, syria's declared materials were removed without a
shot being fired. but the syrian civil war continued. >> an extremist gained the upper hand. >> when you have these ungoverned spaces, and that's where extremists like to go to plan. they can organize and recruit and do training. that's what they need. >> in 2013, isis took over raqqah. a major city of syria. then they marched into iraq. capturing vast swaths of territory. they had effectively created their own nation. an islamic state. >> over the last two years, isis has been badly squeezed. but the group could still strike any time in the middle east, europe, or america.
and syria is still in chaos. >> this country and this region in fact does not play by las vegas rules. what happens in syria doesn't stay in syria. it spews violence and instability and extremism and ultimately a tsunami of refugees. in the countries of our european allies and partners. >> there was a time and there was a way to help moderates in the opposition prevail. >> absolutely we missed an opportunity. >> do you think it is an accomplishment of your presidency that you have substantially kept the united states out of the syrian civil war? military airily? >> i think it is the smartest decision from a menu of bad options that were available to us. have we been flawless in the execution of what is a complicated policy in the region? absolutely not.
i think flawless is not available when it comes to foreign policy or the presidency at least. with mere mortals like me at the helm. have we made the best decisions that were available to us at eej stage? the answer is yes. up next, the battle at home. >> what's the location of your emergency? >> with mass shootings. >> the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun -- >> a president struggles. >> is a good guy with a gun. >> with an american horror story. >> they had their entire lives ahead of them. >> that story, when we return. come on! why doesn't verizon offer unlimited data like t-mobile? is it because their lte network was built six years ago? six years ago? that's like a hundred... in phone years.
911, what is your emergency? >> sandy hook school, i think there's somebody shooting in here. sandy hook school. they're still shooting. >> five minutes. that's how long it took for an assault rifle to end the lives of 20 first graders and six adults inside sandy hook elementary school. >> it's a horrific scene. we've never seen anything like this. >> mr. president.
>> the majority of those who died today were children. beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old. they had their entire lives ahead of them. birthdays, weddings, graduations, kids of their own. barack obama was haunted by the gun violence that pervades america but gun control was the big bet he did not make. >> if you ask me where has been the one area where i feel that i have been most frustrated and most stymied it is the fact that the united states of america is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have
sufficient common sense gun safety laws. >> he failed to pass any firearms legislation. the time it became a priority, he simply did not have the political capital. >> i think a president has to figure out what priorities he'll have a chance of getting through, like gun control. he might have felt if i go for that i'll lose this. because you're building up capital or you're losing capital. >> let's be honers here, there haven't been the votes in the congress for gun control. make no mistake about it. >> kill the bill! >> the midtermlection of 2010 had been a disaster for the democrats. >>ome election nights are more fun than others. >> they lost the house and the senate and with them any chance of getting major legislation passed. still, when it came to guns, obama would finally find a way to act without congress and make the first move on gun control in
decades. is but now it cod all easily be reversed. president-elect donald trump has vowed that there will be no gun restrictions. >> a gunman opens fire -- >> a spray of bullets -- >> the mass killing -- >> there has been a multiple shooting. >> it was early in obama's presidency when an explosion of gun violence began to hit the headlines. among the worst, tucson, arizona. >> six people are dead, 12 others wounded including democratic congresswoman gabrielle giffords. >> there is nothing i can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. >> aurora, colorado. >> 12 people killed, 38 injured after a gunman opens fire in a movie theater. >> i'd like us to pause in a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy. >> the president was praised for his eulogies but pilloried for
inaction. >> why president obama, when you campaigned three years ago, you campaigned on a promise to try to enact legislation that would ban assault weapons. what changed your mind? why did you not during the last three years do anything? >> evil visited this community today. it wasn't until newtown that obama finally acted. public anger and his own revolve drove him to put his full weight begin gun control legislation. >> this is not the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years. where have you been? >> well, i've -- here's where i've been, jake, i've been president of the united states dealing with the worst economic crisis since the great depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. i don't think i'veeen on vacation and so i think all of us have to do some reflection on
how we prioritize what we do here in washington. >> the president took the unusual step of bringing newtown parents in to work on the bill. the legislation broadened background checks to include gun shows and internet sales consider this -- at that time, an astonishing 92% of the country, including an overwhelming majority of gun owners, supported background checks on all potential gun buyers. >> we did think that would be the easy get because of the simplicity of it and because it wasn't anything new. >> but the nra fought hard. >> the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. >> and the nra won. in april, 2013, the bill came up five votes short. >> the amendment is not agreed
to. >> shame on you! >> on in all, this was a pretty shameful day for washington. >> it was a defeat the president took personally. >> instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. >> the failure to be able to do anything even in the face of that, even in the face of the slaughter of these innocent young kids was deeply depressing to him. >> barack obama would have to address mass shootings again and again. >> i'v had to make statements like this too many times. no other advanced nation endures this kind of violence. this is becoming the norm. >> finally, in january, 2016, he announced he was bypassing congress and taking executive action. >> the gun lobby may be holding congress hostage right now but they can not hold america hostage. >> the order expanded background checks and narrowed the gun show
loophole. >> from first graders in newton -- first graders -- and from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. every time i think about those kids it gets me mad. >> he now has decided he's going to write rlaws on his own, give us edicts as if he is a king. that is a petulant child refusing to listen to the will of the american people. >> and now even obama's executive orders are at risk. >> i will veto that. i will unsign that so fast. so fast. >> president-elect trump has said there will be no gun
restrictions on his watch. it is likely that the bet president obama did not make will remain off the table for years. >> there's no one who's been to more memorial services and comforted more families than the president and each time he looks at a family who look at him going "why couldn't we have done more?" believe me, that's like a poker in his stomach, so it eats away at him. >> all the progress that we've made these last eight years goes out the window if we don't win this election. >> in the final days of barack obama's presidency, he campaigned his heart out. >> hello, miami! >> one last time. . >> donald trump's closing argument is "what do you have to lose?" the answer is everything. >> obama reached for the themes
that had driven him since his days as a comnity organizer, equality and social justice. >> i'm not on the ballot this time, but fairness is on the ballot, tolerance is on the ballot, courtesy is on the ballot. equality is on the ballot. democracy is on the ballot. >> issues involving women, gays, minorities and immigrants were among those closest to his heart. but now they appear to be the obama achievements that are at greatest risk. donald trump has vowed to undo much of barack obama's social agenda. >> the change will begin my first day in office. they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. build that wall. build that wall. african-americans, hispanics are living in hell. i'm pro life. the judges will be pro life.
>> it's that last item he mentioned -- judges -- that may have the most powerful affect in undoing the obama legacy. donald trump has said he plans to put a hard-line conservative on the supreme court. that would create a majority that could reverse almost all of obama's programs. obama thought that the supreme court could look more like america. >> president obama names his first supreme court pick and history's first latina. >> he began with sonia sotomayor. >> it is this nation's faith in a more perfect union that allows a puerto rican girl from the bronx to stand here now. [ cheers and applause ] >> then a year later he nominated another woman -- elena kagan. >> thank you so much, mr. president. >> for the first time in history, there were three women on the supreme court.
>> i may be a little grayer than i was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like. [ cheers and applause ] >> it was obama's new high court that ushered in america's biggest social change in decades. june of 2015, the supreme court ruled gay marriage was legal. >> amazing. it's incredible. we've waited all these years, all these years and now we all get marriage equality. >> today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple -- often painful -- real change is possible. shifts in hearts and minds is possible. >> obama knew this shift was possible because he made it himself. >> i believe that marriage is the union between a man and a
woman. >> the most progressive president in a generation had dragged his feet on gay marriage. advocates felt betrayed. many suspected obama's reluctance was a political decision reflecting his sense of just how much change the country could digest. >> what do we want? equality. when do we want it? now. >> instead of pushing gay marriage, he quietly made smaller strides. first obama signed a hate crime bill that protected gays. two years later he revealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. >> i've never been more proud to wear my uniform and represent this country than today. >> it was not obama but joe biden who forced the issue of gay marriage out of the political closet. >> as more americans come to understand what this is all about, it's a simple
proposition -- who do you love? who do you love? and will you be loyal to the person you love? >> days later, obama followed and became the first president to support gay marriage. >> it's important for me to go ahead and affirm that i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. >> it would be three more years before the supreme court made it a fundamental american right and that's something donald trump seems to have no argument with. >> it's already settled. it's law. it was settled in the supreme court. it's done. >> but a trump court could well reverse that right as well as the now 43-year-old decision roe v. wade. the high court's importance to the legacy of barack obama cannot be overstated. after the death of antonin scalia, obama nominated merrick garland to the seat but republicans refused even to consider him so the court became
a casualty of the harsh political divide that has dogged the obama years. an eight-person panel split evenly along ideological lines. >> the issue that became the biggest issue of that split, immigration. unable to get any legislation through congress, the president issued an executive order to keep millions of people from being deported. but when that order was argued before the supreme court, the eight justices divided along party lines, of course. >> this is part of the consequence of the republican failures so far to give a fair hearing to mr. merrick garland, my nominee to the supreme court. >> as with guns, the executive order became his only way to get things done. >> to those members of congress who question my authority to
make our immigration system work better or the wisdom of me acting where congress has failed, i have one answer -- pass a bill. >> near the end of his presidency, barack obama returned to springfield, illinois, where his career began to reflect on his commitment to social justice. >> there's always been a gap between our highest ideals and the reality we witness every single day. we have fough wars and passed laws and reformed system and organized unions and staged protests and launched might you movements to close that gap. >> springfield is where obama first announced his run for the presidency. >> i am ready to take up the cause and march with you and work with you. >> and, of course, springfield is the home of obama's hero abraham lincoln. >> because lincoln made that
wars while training a laser like focus on terror groups like al qaeda to deadly effect. >> the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. >> and yet the cool commander-in-chief of the last eight years presided over the collapse of syria and the birth of isis. which gets us to a man with a much different temperament. >> i would bomb the shit out of them. >> how did one lead to the other? to understand why, you have to go back to the beginning of this story -- chicago, 2002. when i look out over this crowd
today i know there is no shortage of patriots or patriotism. ♪ all we are saying >> a little-known illinois state senator spoke at a protest against the bush administration's plans for a war in iraq. >> i don't oppose war in all circumstances. what i do oppose is a dumb war. >> that speech in 2002 is why barack obama became president. nine days later, hillary clinton and 76 other senators -- >> the joint resolution is passed. >> -- voted to give president bush the authority to go to war in iraq. >> it is a vote that says clearly to saddam hussein this is your last chance. disarm or be disarmed. >> get up right now!
>> by 2008 the iraq war was seen as america's worst foreign policy debacle since vietnam. in the primary against hillary clinton -- >> i was opposed to iraq from the start. >> -- senator obama never let voters forget he had been on the right side of history. >> i don't want to just end the war, i want to end the mind-set that got us into the war in the first place, that's the kind of leadership i intend to provide as president of the united states. >> senator clinton, that's a clear swipe at you. >> really? [ laughter ] >> i've come to speak to you about how the war in iraq will end. >> less than six weeks after he was inaugurated he told the troops his plans for withdrawal. >> i intend to remove all u.s. troops from iraq by the end of 2011. [ applause ] god bless the united states of america. semper fi.
hoorah. >> president obama not only wanted to get america out of iraq, he wanted america to learn from the war and rethink its role as a global superpower. >> we are the most powerful country in the world but even a country this powerful has some limits and some constraints and we have to be judicious in the ways that we use that power. this isn't an abstract proposition. we send 23-year-olds and they lose limbs and some don't come back. >> told you it was up here. >> obama also wanted to apply to logic inafghanistan. >> i'm going to kill him. >> fire! >> his generals wanted a large new surge of troops.
but he insisted on something smaller. >> he took on this idea that the commander-in-chief is not the commander-in-chief. that somehow the commander on the ground should be the person who gets everything he needs as determined by him. >> do it, do it, do it. >> and he demanded a deadline for when the troops wld come home. >> our troop commitment in afghanistan cannot be open end ed. >> consider this -- in january, 2009, there were 175,000 troops in afghanistan and iraq. as of december, 2016, there were around 15,000. but barack obama was no peacenick. he had a dramatically different approach to war compared with
his predecessor. instead of fighting terrorism with large armies, he would rely more than ever on a new technology. it would change the very nature of war -- the armed drone. >> never before in american history has an american president had the technology and the legal authority to hunt down any person anywhere on the face of the earth and kill it. >> there was a surreal selection process that became known as "the kill list." >> they would have bios and pictures of these people, some came to be called sort of baseball cards of terrorists and decision was made to put him on the list or not put him on the list. >> carrying out the campaign of killing was the president's cia director panetta. obama gave him plenty of latitude. when panetta wanted to dramatically expand the cia's fleet of drones in pakistan, the
president, over the objections of his staff, told panetta the cia gets what it wants. >> it was a u.s. drone -- >> a u.s. drone strike killed -- >> is believed to have taken out a notorious terrorist. >> al qaeda's second in command has been killed. >> drones got the job done. >> a major blow. >> al qaeda's senior leadership was decimated. >> the joke became that they once again killed the number of three guy in al qaeda. >> president obama had become the drone president. >> very controversial drone program. >> killed. >> killed. >> killed in a drone attack. >> have you opened a pandora's box? people will use your precedent and say well, the americans under obama did it so we'll use drones. is that the new world we're likely to enter? >> i recognize the danger of an anti-septic war from a distance
that starts looking like a video gam game. >> a video game in is all too real. >> the death toll now appears to be 15. >> many innocent lives have been taken by accident. >> nationwide rallies against u.s. drone attacks. >> the president tightened the rules of engagement. >> our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecut prosecute. >> but drones continued to be an essential weapon in his arsenal. >> there are bad guys out there and one of your jobs as commander-in-chief is making sure that you keep the american people safe from those bad guys. >> the most important bad guy on president obama's list was osama bin laden. the cia believed it had him in
his sites in a compound in abbottab abbottabad, pakistan. look, he was tall, lanky.te and it was something that struck me when i saw it, call it instinct or whatever, i said, yeah, i think that's him. >> but identifying him was by no means a slam dunk. >> the odds of identifying him was 50-50. >> it could have cost the president his job. but he decided to move forward. >> it was emblematic of presidential decision making. you're always working with probabilities and you make a decision not based on 100% certainty but with the best information that you've got. >> obama and his team watched the operation from a cramped
conference room in the white house. >> i was sitting here in my windbreaker, i think gates was there and hillary and we were essentially watching what was happening in realtime. it's here where we observed, for example, one of the helicopters got damaged in the landing. >> a chopper carrying the troops suddenly spun out of control as it tried to land. obama's presidency rested in the hands of a helicopter pilot. >> i was thinking that this was not an ideal start. >> but the pil managed the landing. the elite commandos ascended the stairs of the compound and found their man making history for them and the president. >> on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al qaeda's terror, justice has been
done. >> it was the high point of barack obama's presidency. >> usa! >> but it proved to be a temporary high. three years later, the united states watched as a new terror group -- >> we are going for you, barack obama. >> -- more brutal, more radical, more effective than al qaeda swept through syria and iraq. capturing major cities, enslaving local populations, attracting thousands of followers. >> any attempt by you, obama -- >> and beheading americans. >> -- will result in the bloodshed of your people. >> it gave donald trump an opportunity to hammer at obama's foreign policy.
>> kill the bill! kill the bill! no more obama! >> summer, 2009. >> afro len anymoinism coming t on a silver platter. >> i have a right for the government not to control my health care. >> across the country, a grass-roots rebellion gets ugly. the target, barack obama. >> why don't have i'm frofreedo? because we elected somebody to take our freedom? >> enraged by bailout, the right went ballistic by health care. >> why don't they take the health care being forced down our throat. >> the president was undeterred. >> i am not the first president to take up this cause but i am
determined to be the last. we used a lot of political capital on health care and the reason is simple, we're the only advanced nation on earth that didn't make sure every person had affordable health care. >> when you consider presidents have been trying since teddy roosevelt to get health care passed, fdr was hoping to do it, jfk. >> no matter how hard the road, what history will record is that obama got it done. >> we are done. >> but that achievement that seven presidents attempted once thought impossible is now at risk. >> it's over for obamacare. >> this is the story of the epic battle to pass obamacare. >> so help me god. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> it began just days into obama's presidency. >> it was a big bet that he could do something seven presidents couldn't in the middle of an economic -- >> yes, it was a hug bet.
>> a bet many wanted to play somewhere else. >> he had half a dozen big domestic policy goals that were fighting for attention. >> the president of the united states. >> first, obama took his case to the very people he knew would try to kill it. >> let there be no doubt, health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait and it will not wait another year. [ cheers and applause ] >> when we were discussing health care he said what are we supposed to do? put our approval rating on the shelf and admire it for eight years or draw down on it to try to get things that are important done for the country? >> this is a unique alignment of the stars for one party. a democratic president, a big majority in the house, a decent-sized majority in the house. >> knowing what he faced from the republican opposition the president who ran as a government outsider surrounded himself with political insiders.
>> it was the opportunity to do things that nobody had the political will to do before. >> rahm emanuel, an arm-twisting deal maker. he had rapidly ascend it had democratic leadership in congress, he knew the hill and he knew health care. >> there's some value having gone -- been in the clinton white house, saw where it went wrong from the inside. >> emanuel and obama knew they needed congressional buy-in this time. they decided congress should write the bill. >> i just want to make sure that i don't get in the way of all of you moving aggressively and rapidly. >> and there were others obama needed on his side -- the special interests. insurance company, big pharma, the doctors' associations. >> karen represents america's health insurance plans. >> we understand we have to earn a seat at the table. >> he wanted the very groups that had killed health care reform in the past inside the room now. in march, 2009, he brought them all to the white house.
>> we he want every one of those but one at the table. >> all of the groups here need to say involved. >> they all made demands, obama made deals. >> none of these groups are doing this out of the goodness of their heart. they're negotiating they want the best deal possible. >> he compromised on the thing that was mt sacred to him -- the indidual mandate that every citizen buy health care. the idealistic candidate had become a steely-eyed pragmatist. obama pushed lawmakers to pass a bill and fast. >> you get the impression they're trying to scram something through congress which is clearly designed for a government takeover of our health care system. >> but by august recess there was no vote. >> get off of me! >> everybody back up! >> capitol hill lawmakers went home to angry constituents raging at town hall meetings. >> the wave of angry mobs. >> the protester with who came to the town hall meeting today with a gun. >> things are getting physical.
♪ universal health care is a big fat snow ♪ >> the tea party found its moment and its cause. republicans began running away from health care. so did many democrats. many white house advisers thought it was time for oba to do the same. >> he turned to phil, his legislative director, and said "phil, what are the chances of passing this law?" and he said "depends on how lucky you feel, mr. president." he said "phil, i'm a black guy named black hussein obama and i'm president of the united states. i feel lucky everyday." >> now is the time. >> and then a huge loss to the country lit a new fire under the president. >> happening now, the lion of the senate, ted kennedy succus to brain cancer at the age of 77. >> he realized how important it was to get this done because it was something senator kennedy had been fighting for for decades as well. >> may he rest in eternal peace. >> i return to address the issue
is centr. it's the issue of health care. >> obama took the unusual step of going back to congress but the ugliness of the fight followed him in. >> the reforms i'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. >> you lie! >>. [ boos ] >> a republican congressman called the president a liar. >> i couldn't imagine that happening to another president. >> there was another problem. obama would need 60 democratic senators for a veto-proof majority and the 60th seat was up for grabs in massachusetts. it had been assumed ted kennedy's seat would go to a democrat. it was, after all, masshusetts. but suddenly a republican named scott brown was surging. >> i thank the people of massachusetts for electing me. >> that was the death knell for health care because he was the
60th vote. >> a year of his presidency was gone, political capital spent and barack obama was staring at a likely defeat there are people who think that if obama had been more of a schmoozer, that maybe people like you were too partisan. that somehow he needed to reach out. >> we're one golf game away from singing kumbaya. give me a break. >> desperate, obama changed gears. first he apologized to the country. >> i take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the american people. >> then he barnstormed for the bill. across america and in congress. >> i may not be the first president to take up the cause for health care reform, i'm determined to be the last. and. >> and he made more concessions, giving up the public option which would have created a government insurance program that competed with private companie >> we ended up having to wrestle this thing to the ground in a
way that was less-than-ideal from my perspective. >> finally, march 21, 2010. >> on this vote, the yeas are 219, the nays are 212. the motion to concur in the senate amendment is adopted. >> for decades they've been trying to do it, it's now been done. >> without a single republican vote, the bill passed. the white house celebrated. >> i asked the president how does this night compare to election night? he said, there's no comparison. election night was all about getting to tonight. this is why we worked so hard. >> days later when president obama arrived in the east room to sign the bill into law, vice president joe biden summed up the moment. >> this is a big deal. >> and a big bet that paid off. >> thank you, everybody, please have a seat. >> of course, the republicans vowed to keep fighting. >> we are resolved to have this law go away and we're going to do everything we can to stop it. >> the fight against obamacare has gone on ever since and there
is no question that the program has real problems, from broken promises -- >> if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. >> -- to soaring premiums. >> obamacare premiums will rise an average of 22% next year. >> but 20 million people who were uninsured now have health care. can it survive? >> i think that president obama should apologize for obamacare. >> but for now the foundational idea that every american has the right to basic health care stands as barack obama's signature achievement. >> the big question is at the end of somebody's presidency, do people feel that their lives were better? there's a certain sense in which having accomplished something that presidents before you tried to get and is a fundamental right for americans, that's a big thing.
>> this is shishmaref, alaska, just south of the arctic circle and about as far west as you can go in the continental united states. >> about 15 years ago the people of a small thousand year old ocean front hunting village notice something odd. >> barack obama spoke about the town in his first major speech on climate change in r. >> ice that protected their village began to grow slushy and weak. >> obama had read about the troubles of shishmaref in a new york article. soon, the village itself began to disappear. can chunks of land sheared away and home after home was destroyed by storms that grew
stronger and stronger every year. >> the story of the village that disappeared is by no means isolated and by no means over. >> obama saw in shishmaref a frightening future if global warming continued unabated. >> the climate is getting warmer and if you think of us being in a car where we're speeding towards a cliff, we're starting to try to tap on the breaks. if we do what we need to do over the next 20, 30, 40 years then it's a manageable problem. if we don't, it will not be. >> are you prepared to take the oath, senator? >> i am. >> he came to the white house committed to stopping the car from going over the cliff. >> i barack hussein obama do solemnly swear. >> and laid out a bold agenda to do just that. >> now america has arrived at a cross roads. >> his stimulus bill included lots of money for clean energy. van jones was the obama white
house's green jobs guru. >> it's impossible to overstate how important climate change was to obama in the first year. >> but his bold agenda was stymied by a recalcitrant congress. by a chorus of climate change deniers. and by the fact that americans just did not care about climate change. it was ranked the 11th-most important issue during the 2008 election. out 1206 options. so the president decided to fight climate change on his own. in december of 2009 at a climate conference in copenhagen obama displayed his determination to play a major role on this issue
on the global stage. >> good morning. >> as hillary clinton later explained in a democratic primary debate -- >> president obama and i were hunting for the chinese. >> she and president obama found themselves chasing beijing's delegation at that conference. why? >> we knew we had to get them to agree to something. because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless china and india join with the rest of the world. >> when the american delegation found out about a secret meeting between china, india, and other developing nations they sent out a search party, found the meeting, and the president and secretary of state crashed it. >> are you ready?
>> are you ready for me or do you want to wait? >> those guys didn't get in? >> no, no. no pictures. >> my guys get in just like your guys got there. this is a joint meeting. my guys get in or we're leaving the meeting. >> it might have been undiplomat y undiplomatic but according to clinton it led to a breakthrough. -the-says the deal forged in that room put them on the road to future progress. back at home, though, there was little progress on climate. so as the first term turned into the second, obama tasked his team with getting america on the right track in the face of a once-again hostile congress. >> president obama from the very beginninged that power to do something about climate change. he didn't want to do it. he said i want to work through congress.
>> mr. speak er the president o the united states. >> obama put the legislative branch on warning in his 2013 state of the union. >> but if congress won't act soon to protect future generations i will. >> congress did not act. >> clear air, clean water. >> obama did. in the summer of 2015 -- >> there is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change. >> obama took aim at one of the key causes of climate change. >> right now our power plants are the source of about a third of america's carbon pollution. that's more pollution than our cars, our airplanes and our homes generate combined. >> the president's clean power plan would set new limits for the first time on how much smoke those plants could spew. and forget congress, this was a
unilateral executive action. the audience at obama's announcement may have applauded -- >> it's all about coal. >> but from other quarters -- >> fight those. >> the reaction was anger. >> our nations coal miners provide affordable reliable electricity that continues to power america. >> and the anger wasn't contained to coal. president obama's old law school professor and mentor laurence tribe, who, it must be said, was representing a coal company, compared obama's tactics on climate change to nothing less than -- >> burning the constitution of the united states. >> those who would argue that any actions i've taken have been contrary to my legal powers are wrong and we've taken it really seriously and i make no apologies for it. >> despite the president's
conference, the clean power plan hasn't gone into effect. more than two dozen states sued to stop it, the supreme court ordered the implementation delayed until the appeals play themselves out. and now president-elect trump has vowed to rescind it. but what will he do with obama's signature climate achievement -- the paris agreement? in december of 2015 in the city of light 196 nations agreed by consensus to limit the planet's warming to two degrees celsius. that's a threshold many scientists believe will prevent disaster. >> of course it took a long time to reach this day. one of the reasons i ran for this office was to make america a leader in this mission. >> and america is now undoubtedly a leader, perhaps the leader, on climate change.
cln energy is a vast and growing american industry and more than 100 countries have signed on to the paris agreement which went into legal effect just four days before the 2016 presidential election. >> if 20, 30, 50 years from now we look back and we say question dealt with this in a serious way i'll be happy to say that that was one of my proudest achievements even though i didn't do it by myself. >> as for shishmaref, the alaskan island that was disappearing a decade ago? the world's actions appear to have come too late. in august of 2016 the villagers voted to leave the ravaged island and move to the mainland. but will others be saved by the progress made under president
around the world. >> i won. >> then senator obama has been thrown an unexpected question from an ordinary american. >> this is the cnn youtube debate. >> would he meet without pre-conditions with the leaders of iran, syria, venezuela, cuba, and north korea. >> i would. and the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration is ridiculous. >> thanks very much, everyone, good fight. >> viewed today, the statement might not seem extraordinary. but in 2007, it was practically revolutionary to say that an american president would speak to strongmen like iran's ahmadinejad and north korea's kim. >> constitute an axis of evil. >> two-thirds of then president obama's axis of evil.
>> certainly we're not going to just have our president meet with -- >> hillary clinton poked holes in obama's argument on stage that night and the reviews were pretty unanimous -- obama's answer was naive. >> are you kidding me? those are the last people i'd meet with in my first year. i'd never meet with those guys. >> but obama strategist david axelrod says that the future president was adamant on a phone call with staff obama told them -- >> w not backing off at all. >> i actually think that was the moment when he found his voice in that campaign because he realized that he was bringing a point of view that nobody else was going to bring. >> that voice continued when he was inaugurated. >> we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclinch your
fist. >> iran in 2009 was a nation with a very tightly clenched fist. >> this is a country this had been hostile towards us and we've been hostile towards for decades. >> but after just two months in office, obama decided to try something new on this old enemy. >> today i want to extend my best wishes who all who are celebrating naruz around the world. >> that's the persian new year. >> for three decades relations have been strained but at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together. >> veteran middle east reporter robin wright was in iran when obama's message was delivered? >> it was electrifying, the impacted the on people who believed that for the first time maybe the americans were serious about a dialogue.
>> those hopes for a dialogue became fears about a confrontation. obama, along with nicolas sarkozy and the uk's gordon brown made a stunning announcement -- iran had been keeping an explosive secret. >> the islamic republic of iran has been building a covert enrichment facility for several year years. >> this was one of those gotcha moments and it was a worrying sign because it indicated iran had a much more advanced progra program. >> the crisis had an upside. it brought the world's most powerful nations together -- the united states, germany, the united kingdom, france, and china and russia were now all determined to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon. there were fits and starts, talks and negotiations but little progress to show until
2013 -- an auspicious year, the year the team that would crack the toughest issue in world politics all came together. >> so help me god. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> it was the year that president obama was inaugurated for the second time. >> what are your thoughts a that point? >> and john kerry, a vietnam war vet and advocate of diplomacy took office as the new secretary of state. it was the year that the relatively moderate hassan rouhani was elected the seventh president of iran. >> we are all endowed with free will. >> and named the american-educated mohammed zarif as kerry's counterpart. >> the personal history of these four men was pivotal in pulling it off. it is doubtful that if any of the four had been different that we would have gotten to this point. >> the importance of that chemistry began to be clear in september, the 2013, it was the
annual meeting of world leaders at the united nations in new york. secretary of state john kerry. >> the united states and iran have not had their secretaries of state or foreign ministers talk in decades. >> but that was soon to change. >> we'll bring you in. we'll bring you in. >> after a multilateral meeting where kerry and zarif sat next to each other, the two diplomats went to another room at the u.n. for what was supposed to be just a meet and greet. it turned into much more. >> a little room on the side of the security council. no windows. just the two of us in a very small space i think taking stock of each other and of the situation. >> the planned brief encounter turned into a 30-minute serious conversation. >> i have just met with him now on a side meeting.
>> we stressed on the need to continue these discussions, to give it the political impetus that it requires. >> these were the highest-level talks between the united states and iran in decades, but that record didn't last long. >> it was just a 15-minute phone call but one that was 34 years in the making. >> the highest-level conversation between the two nations since 1979. >> an historic conversation as obama picked up the phone and called rouhani. the first dialogue between an american president and an iranian leader since jimmy carter spoke to the last shah of iran. >> i believe we can reach a comprehensive solution. >> over the almost two years of negotiations that followed, there were disbelievers about the deal abroad. >> such a deal does not block iran's path to the bomb. such a deal paves iran's path to
the bomb. >> at home in the united states. >> i just don't understand why we would sign an agreement with a group of people who, in my opinion, have no intention of keeping their word. >> and in iran. even the negotiators themselves weren't sure that they could get to the finish line. >> are you optimistic for an agreement? >> well, i think it's fair to say that we're hopeful. >> thank you. >> there was one moment when i visited with my counterpart and i asked him point blank, i said are you sure you really want to try to get this done? because i'm not sure that you do based on where we are. >> but in the end, both sides did want to get it done and on july 14, 2015, a deal was struck. >> this moment has been a long
time coming and we have worked very hard to get here. >> that hard work almost didn't pay off. congress tried to block the deal. >> order please. >> in the end, the opposition failed and in january, 2016 the nuclear agreement with iran went into effect. >> what we're able to establish has been remarkable and even our most severe critics cannot argue with the fact that without launching a bomb, without initiating a war we've been able to remove an enormous threat. >> but now it's all in jeopardy. >> the nuclear deal is a disaster. >> will donald trump rip up the deal? national security advisor susan rice says that would be a terrible idea. >> to scrap it when it's working would put us outside of the
bounds of what is an international agreement. so it's a win-win for iran. our allies and partners are furious at the united states and their nuclear program can proceed unabated. it doesn't serve our interests. >> next up, my thoughts on the legacy of barack obama. ghter) we're in 8th grade. technology is the only thing that really entertains us. i'm gonna use this picture on sketchbook, and i'm going to draw mustaches on you all. using the pen instead of fingers, it just feels more comfortable for me. be like, boop! it's gone. i like that only i can get into it and that it recognizes my fingerprint. our old tablet couldn't do that. it kind of makes you feel like you're your own person, which is a rare opportunity in my family. (laughter)
historians to the white house. he was searching for ideas, examples and less sons from his predecessors. but as the conversation progressed, "time" reported, it became clear to several in the room that obama was most interested in the accomplishments of ronald reagan. >> reagan on first glance was an unlikely role model, an arch conservative actor turned politician who was better known for his anecdotes and humor than analysis and intellect. but obama saw reagan had been a transformational president. >> go forward, america, reach for the stars. [ applause ] >> someone, who as he said while campaigning in 2008, had changed the trajectory of america in a way that richard nixon did not and in a way that bill clinton did not. clearly that was obama's aspiration as well, to change the trajectory of america. did he? if i had been taking stock in mid-2016 the case would have been overwhelming. >> the bill is passed.
[ cheers and applause ] >> the obama administration passed near universal health care. it fundmently reshaped america's energy policy to combat climate change and fuel a green energy revolution. it enacted the largest reorganization of the financial industry since the great depression. >> there we go. that's done. >> and most of this happened in the first 18 months. but, of course, all that is in jeopardy. donald trump has vowed to erase the obama presidency, other parts might prove more indelible. 22 million people are on obamacare, clean energy is now a huge mesh industry with millions of jobs. >> we must come together as nations. >> obama's foreign policy focused on diplomatic solutions wary of military interventions and nation building reflects the mood of the country but on the hole many of his policies under pressure and could be rolled
back entirely. how did this happen? when looking back at presidents like johnson or fdr, it's clear that to sustain a long legacy you need to not just get elected president but forge a coalition. johnson and roosevelt had coressional majorities that lasted. obama is an intensely charismatic politician but he was not able to build a political base underneath him. during his eight years, the democratic party has suffered a historic series of defeats at the state and national levels, putting them in the worst position they've been in since the 1920s. was that obama's failure a lack of political skill? perhaps, though it is equally likely that the currents were stronger than anyone one person could shift. in recent years america has gone through enormous economic, technological, political and cultural change and in some parts of the country there has been a backlash and to an afterpresident. in that interview about reagan,
obama noted that reagan put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. it remains unclear whether the country was ready for obama's vision. the most dramatic change was health care, he spent the first few years of his presidency and all his political capital on passing it and i would argue even if trump finds a way to repeal and replace it, it remains a historic achievement. obama did what seven presidents failed to do -- he made health care a fundamental right. it's the signature achievement of a consequential president. but presidential legacies exist above and beyond laws and policies. we rememberohn f. knedy for the energy, vitality, elegance and intelligence he brought to the white house and in that sense obama has left an indelible mark. he and his family occupied the white house with dignity, grace, and good humor. he ran an administration that was largely scandal-free and he
did it all the while under a microscope because he looked different. in a sense, america made a big net elected barack obama as its first african-american president and with respect to his pernal character and intellect most of the country believes it was a bet that paid off. i'm fareed zakaria. thanks for joining us. good morning and merry christmas and happy holidays to our viewers around the world and in the united states. i'm brian stelter, this is "reliable sources." our weekly look at the story behind the story, how the media really works, how the news gets made. this hour, a special report. for a few more weeks barack obama will be the president of the united states so it's time for a closeup look at how his administration interacted with the president and vice