Obama: ‘I was actually black before the election’

After breezing through a battery of TV interviews Sunday with hardly a revealing moment, President Obama finally let out some fresh information on the David Letterman Show on Monday night.

He let slip a few personal details about his daughters, an off-limits topic elsewhere. He disclosed the name of a movie he saw recently with his wife. And he managed to talk a little about health care and Afghanistan too.

The information wasn’t exactly breaking news, but the president has been busy hammering home an old message about the overhaul of the health care system.

And, in fact, Letterman let him talk about his favorite topic for a good stretch of the show. Letterman was content to listen as Obama talked about the plight of the uninsured and about his ideas for making things better.

In a more personal moment, Obama talked about how tough the homework load is at Sidwell Friends School, the Quaker school his daughters, Sasha and Malia, attend in Washington.

“We decided there weren’t going to be any fancy camps during the summer,” Obama said. “They basically just goofed off during the summer … which I couldn’t do.”

“Others have,” Letterman said, a possible reference to the previous administration, drawing only a laugh from the president.

Obama also offered some insight into family nights with the first lady when shown a picture of the two of them wearing 3D glasses. They were watching the movie “Up” at the time, he said.

In addition to watching movies, the Obama girls also have slumber parties at the White House and go to sleepovers at their friends’ houses, which requires that parents get “frisked” by the Secret Service.

In a serious moment, the president showed a hint of agreement with some points in a new report from the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who believes that the mission in Afghanistan could fail without more troops and a different strategy for tamping down the insurgency, according to a document that was revealed in the Washington Post on Monday.

Over the last seven years, Obama said, “Our strategy drifted. … We didn’t have a clear sense of what it was we were trying to accomplish.” Obama also weighed in with a brief, but sharp point about race, another subject he typically avoids.

Is all the vitriol about his domestic agenda really about race? Letterman asked the first black president.

“It’s important to realize that I was actually black before the election,” Obama pointed out. “That tells you a lot, I think, about where the country is at.”

(c) 2009, Tribune Co. Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.