Q Thank you. My question is, you have -- my name is Tara. You have come to our county and asked us to trust you, but those that you have appointed to your Cabinet are not trustworthy and can't handle their own budget and taxes.Would you want to have a beer with Sean Hannity? We shall see if Hannity gets his drink with Obama, and don't be surprised if it happens.
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no, this is a legitimate -- this is a legitimate question.
Q So I'm one of those that thinks you need to have a beer with Sean Hannity. So tell me why, from my side, we can understand --
THE PRESIDENT: No, that's okay. That's okay. No, no, look, I think it was a perfectly legitimate question.
First of all, I appoint -- I've appointed hundreds of people, all of whom are outstanding Americans who are doing a great job. There are a couple who had problems before they came into my administration in terms of -- in terms of their taxes. Look -- and I think this is a legitimate criticism that people have made, because you can't expect one set of folks to not pay their taxes when everybody else is paying theirs. So I think that's a legitimate concern. (Applause.)
I will tell you that the individuals at issue here, I know them personally, and I think these were honest mistakes. And I made sure they were honest mistakes beforehand. And one of the things I discovered is if you're not going to appoint anybody whose ever made a mistake in your [sic] life, then you're not going to have anybody taking your job. So -- (applause) --
But having said that, what I did acknowledge -- and I said it publicly on just about every TV station -- is something that you probably sometimes don't hear from politicians, which is: I made a mistake. (Applause.) And that, because I don't want to send the signal that they're two sets of rules.
Now, understand, though, I think something that should also be mentioned is that we've set up an unprecedented set of ethics rules in my White House where we are not -- we are not -- everybody will acknowledge that we have set up the highest standard ever for lobbyists not working in the administration; people who work in my administration aren't going to be able to go out the revolving door and start working for some lobbying firm and lobbying the White House. Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged that there's a very high bar that we've set for ourselves. We have not been perfect, but we are changing the culture in Washington and it's going to take some time.
Now, with respect to Sean Hannity, I didn't know that he had invited me for a beer. (Laughter.) But I will take that under advisement. (Laughter.) Generally, his opinion of me does not seem to be very high -- (laughter) -- but I'm always good for a beer, so -- (laughter and applause.)
All right. Well, let me -- let me get this side of the room and then I'll come back. I want to make sure I'm not looking too biased on one side here. That gentlemen right up there in the corner there -- you, yes.
Above all, the fact that Obama admitted the mistake sets him large strides ahead of the moral character and timbre of George W. in my book.
The final question of the afternoon is a good one from a nine year old named James:
Q What are you going to do to help our schools?Now, I wish that he suggested that NCLB would be abandoned, but nonetheless, if you read through the transcript, you will see how sharp this new president is - and it's refreshing to not have a president who trips over his own tongue.
THE PRESIDENT: And this is a good place to end, with our future here. What's your name?
Q My name is James.
THE PRESIDENT: James, how old are you?
Q I'm nine years old.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, fantastic. What's your question?
Q What are you going to do to help our schools?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I just started talking about that. (Laughter.) So, James, as I said, I think that we've got to rebuild our schools to make sure that they're state of the art. We also have to make sure that we are training new teachers and retraining some of the existing teachers so that they've got the best possible skills.
We also are going to have to reform how we do business in some of the schools. I think it's very important for us to have high standards. I think we've got to do a better job, though, of assessing performance in schools. No Child Left Behind needs to be reworked in a more effective way. (Applause.)
But the last thing that we need in schools -- do in schools has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with parents. (Applause.) Because we can put as much money as we want into schools -- if parents don't have an attitude that says, I'm going to make sure my child does my homework; that I'm meeting with the teacher to find out what's going on; if all of us aren't instilling a sense of excellence in our kids -- then they're not going to be able to compete. And that means young people like you, you're going to have to -- you're going to have to work a little harder. (Laughter and applause.)
Yes. Thank you, James.
All right, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
END 1:07 P.M. EST
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