In Marin / CONVERSATION
action against Iran. So I received all kinds
of opinions on this very hot-button issue. In
cases like this, you have to be true to your own
judgments and sensibilities.
How are you and President Obama progressing? Do you mean have I played basketball
with him? Not yet, but he promised me a game
and we’re working on that. I’ve met President
Obama a number of times and that’s a special
experience. He’s doing some great things, but
I can’t say I’m 100 percent with him on everything; we have our differences on trade right
now and I don’t agree with every aspect of his
energy policy. But I give him high marks on a
number of things; his presidency is very good
and will look even better in the eyes of history.
What about President Obama as a person?
As a human being, he has to be one of the most
impressive people we’ve ever had in the White
House. He is extremely cerebral and thoughtful and, when he wants to be, convivial. But no
one is perfect. In some ways, the president’s
leadership style is limiting when it comes to getting things done because he can also be aloof.
He is much less interested in schmoozing with
Congress than he is in having a quiet dinner
with his wife and family. That speaks to the
depth of him in a very good way. But for the chief
executive of the United States of America, those
relationships with Congress really matter, and
he’s really never been very interested in them.
It sounds like you have concerns about the
Trans-Pacific Partnership. First are my environmental concerns. If we are going to grant
favored trading status to 14 or more different countries — Vietnam, Singapore, Chile,
Brunei and Japan among them — I think we
have to be sure that our high environmental
standards are not threatened, and that hopefully we’re going to lift some of the bad actors
up to our standards. So far, I don’t see either
of these things happening with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And our environmental
standards are in jeopardy of being deemed in
restraint of trade in one of the international
tribunals being set up by the TPP. Also, the
standards we are asking of other TPP signa-tories, save for two or three matters, are very
weak, to the point of being meaningless.