Obama’s Blitz

NBC News on Tuesday continues its tradition of capturing a new president at the White House in an extended special — something the network has done since Jimmy Carter. The ones I have seen in the past have been rather candid looks inside the West Wing, even if much of the staff is still on guard about what they say. Previews and the requisite Twitter feeds are here, along with the specials from adminstrations past.

NPR and the BBC each got interviews with Obama today, on the eve of the president’s departure to the Middle East and Europe.

Here’s an excerpt from the BBC:

Justin Webb:  “You’re making this speech in Cairo, Amnesty International says there are thousands of political prisoners in Egypt, How do you address that issue?”

President Obama: “The message I hope to deliver is that democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion those are not simply principles of the west to be hoisted on these countries, but rather what I believe to be universal principles that they can embrace and affirm as part of their national identity.

“Now, the danger I think is when the United States or any country thinks that we can simply can impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture .. our job… ”

Justin Webb:”.. but you’ll be encouraging…”

President Obama:  “Absolutely we’ll be encouraging ……and I think the thing that we can do most importantly is to serve as a role model and that’s why for example  closing Guantanamo from my perspective as difficult as it is is important because part of what we want to affirm to the world is that these are values that are important even when it’s hard, maybe especially when it’s hard and not just when it’s easy.”

The BBC interview airs tonight at 7 on BBC America and BBC World News.

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