Yin and yang... or, oil and water?
President Obama's explanation during his press conference Monday night of a comment made last week by Vice President Joe Biden appears to raise that question.
FOX News' White House correspondent Major Garrett asked the president to explain a Biden comment made last Friday, during which he said, "there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong."
Read the exchange:
OBAMA: All right. Major Garrett, where's Major?
GARRETT: Mr. President, at a speech Friday that many of us covered, Vice President Biden said the following thing about a conversation the two of you had in the Oval Office about a subject he didn't disclose.
"If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, if we stand up there and we really make the tough decisions, there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong."
Since the vice president brought it up, can you tell the American people, sir, what you were talking about? And if not, can you at least reassure them it wasn't the stimulus bill or the bank rescue plan and if, in general, you agree with that ratio of success, 30 percent failure, 70 percent success?
OBAMA: You know, I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to...
(LAUGHTER) ...not surprisingly.
But let me try this out. (MORE LAUGHTER)
I think what Joe may have been suggesting -- although I wouldn't put numerical -- I wouldn't ascribe any numerical percentage to any of this -- is that, given the magnitude of the challenges that we have, any single thing that we do is going to be part of the solution, not all of the solution.
And as I said in my introductory remarks, not everything we do is going to work out exactly as we intended it to work out. You know, this is an unprecedented problem.
And, you know, when you talk to economists, there's some general sense of how we're going to move forward. There's some strong consensus about the need for a recovery package of a certain magnitude. There's a strong consensus that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, all tax cuts or all investment, but that there should be a range of approaches.
But even if we do everything right on that, we've still got to deal with what we just talked about, the financial system, and making sure that banks are lending again. We're still going to have to deal with housing. We're still going to have to make sure that we've got a regulatory structure, a regulatory architecture for the financial system that prevents crises like this from occurring again.
Now, those are big, complicated tasks. So I don't know whether Joe was referring to that, but I used that as a launching point to make a general point about these issues.
OBAMA: I have no idea. I really don't.