- The initial query was, in essence, why is America so consistently dense about other cultures?
"You can't wait to do some of this work until there is a crisis," he said. "This is a chronic problem in Washington. It has to do with our 30-second attention span. You want to get to know a country and figure out what are the interests and who are the players. You can't parachute in. Iraq is a classic example, and Iran now may be another example, where we are entirely isolated from these countries and have no idea what's going on. We don't have good intelligence on them. And we're basically making a series of decisions in the blind. And that is dangerous for us."
This is not a voting issue -- and it is quite possible that Hillary Clinton (not to mention Joe Biden) could have given an equally substantive reply to a similar question. In the hurly-burly of campaign coverage, reflective moments like this inevitably get lost. But it is worth noting that on a crisp November Tuesday, six weeks before the New Hampshire primary, Obama demonstrated that he understood the reasons why America for decades (think of the Bay of Pigs invasion) has made gravely serious national security decisions based on laughably inaccurate intelligence.