NBC host Matt Lauer told President Obama his rhetoric about being judged by history and not the present moment was reminiscent of President George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor and a frequent object of his criticism.
In an interview aired Tuesday on The Today Show, Lauer asked Obama about his display of emotion when he rolled out his executive actions on gun control last week. Lauer suggested Obama would have suppressed an urge to cry earlier in his presidency, but that as he heads into his final year, he'd taken on a more devil-may-care attitude.
"I might have clamped it down," Obama said. "There's no doubt that I am looser now. There have been times during the course of the presidency where I've tightened up."
Obama said he felt there was an urgency to "let it rip" as he enters the final year of his two-term presidency.
"As you go into your last year, you start realizing that, ultimately, how well you've done here is going to be judged not by tomorrow's polls or today's headlines," Obama said. "They're going to be judged by people who are looking back at you 20, 30 years from now, and so you'd better let it rip."
"You're starting to sound a little like George W. Bush, who told me one day, ‘Matt, I'm going to be dead when my legacy is decided,'" Lauer said, as Obama chuckled.
Bush said in 2013, as he was set to open his presidential library in Texas, that "history will judge" his administration.