This story was updated at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 30.
President Obama took his re-election campaign to Reddit Wednesday, answering questions on the popular Web community where users post and comment on anything from news and politics to cute animal pictures and oddball videos.
"I am Barack Obama, President of the United States – AMA," the president posted, using the site’s acronym for Ask Me Anything, part of a regular Reddit series called IAmA in which celebrities and people in interesting lines of work field questions about their work. Obama becomes the highest-profile subject of the series, which has previously had comedians Stephen Colbert and Louis CK, Jeopardy! Champion Ken Jennings and CNN anchor Don Lemon as well as a bus driver, Starbucks barista and Red Lobster employee. Obama’s session drew enough users to bring the site down briefly.
After a campaign appearance in Charlottesville, Va., Obama fielded questions on “Internet Freedom,” job prospects for recent graduates, the space program and other subjects. In response to a post asking what his most difficult decision in office has been, the president wrote:
“The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the taliban's momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead - so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.”
The president also made some news by suggesting a push for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that opened the door to unlimited Super PAC contributions. “Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it),” he wrote. “Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”
Besides those somber and weighty issues, Obama also named Michael Jordan as his favorite basketball player and said the recipe for the White House’s beer will be released soon. “I can tell from first hand experience, it is tasty,” Obama wrote.
The president, who has also fielded questions from Facebook users, hosted a Google hangout and done Twitter and LinkedIn town halls, praised the Reddit forum as “an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”
The questions Obama got included many thoughtful, serious ones – and plenty more not-so-serious. Of course, the Redditors also took pleasure in correcting the president’s grammar and typos. “How does it feel to correct the most influential man on the planet?” one poster asked.
Here, 15 of the questions and comments Obama didn’t address:
- "Boxers or briefs?"
- "Biggie or Tupac?"
- "Mr. President, you do realize you are going to break the Internet, right?"
- "Has there been contact with Aliens?" (Also asked: What is in Area 51?)
- "Who do you predict winning the 2013 NBA Championship?"
- "Mr. President, when will the United States officially move to the metric system?"
- "If you could fight any historical figure, who would it be?"
- "If you had the ability to automatically enact or repeal only one law without congressional approval, what would you choose and why?"
- "You're cast in Space Jam 2 as the leader of the Toon Squad. Who's your starting 5 and who's on the MonStars?"
- "If you had to select one non-politician to be the next president, who would be your pick?"
- "Who takes care of Bo, day to day? Do your daughters have most of the responsibility or does he have special doggy assistants?"
- "What is your favorite room in the White House?"
- "Mr. President as a potato lover I would like to ask you, if you were a potato what kind of potato would you be and why?"
- "Hey Mr. Obama, can you tell us something we're not supposed to know?"
- "Are you happy?"