Obama: Separation of Powers ‘Very Frustrating Sometimes for the President,’ Like ‘Herding Cats’

'This makes it hard sometimes for America to change as rapidly as we need to'


President Obama said Wednesday it was “very frustrating sometimes for the president” and akin to “herding cats” to have separation of powers in the U.S. government.

Responding to a town hall question in Argentina about the 2016 election, Obama discussed the directions being taken by the Republican and Democratic Parties before expounding on the American political system.

“I also think that one of the great advantages of the United States system, even though it’s very frustrating sometimes for the president, is that power is distributed across a lot of different institutions,” Obama said. “It’s what we call separation of powers and decentralization.”

Obama explained the system of checks and balances, as well as the power of state governments and the private sector. He expressed chagrin at how this set-up made it difficult for the country “to change as rapidly as we need to” for certain situations.

“This makes it hard sometimes for America to change as rapidly as we need to to respond to changed circumstances or problems … It’s sort of like herding cats,” Obama said. “You’re constantly trying to get everybody to work together and move in the same direction at the same time, and that’s difficult.

“The advantage is even if we end up with somebody who I might not consider a great president, there’s a limit to some of the damage that they can do–and I’m sure Republicans feel that about me. They’re glad that there’s distribution of power, because they imagine that I would have turned the United States into Cuba, I suppose. They tend to exaggerate a little bit how I see the world.”

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