VIDEO: Obama: Occupy Wall St. “Expresses the Frustrations the American People Feel”

The scene at Occupy Wall Street.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kapkap/6188584510/sizes/m/in/photostream/">_PaulS_</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

President Obama made his first public comments on the growing Occupy Wall Street protests in a press conference on Thursday. “I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.” He went on, “So yes, I think people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”

Here’s the video:

It’s not just Obama finally weighing in on Occupy Wall Street. At the Atlantic‘s Washington Ideas Forum today, Vice President Joe Biden was asked by by NBC’s David Gregory, “Do you stand in solidarity” with Occupy Wall Street? Here’s Biden’s reply, via Slate‘s Dave Weigel:

“Look, that’s a really fair question. Let’s be honest with one another. What is the core of that protest? The core is: The bargain has been breached. The core is: The American people do not think the system is fair, or on the level. That is the core is what you’re seeing with Wall Street. Look, there’s a lot in common with the Tea Party. The Tea Party started, why? TARP. They thought it was unfair.”

Obama’s and Biden’s sympathetic remarks are big news—not just because they come from the president and vice president of the United States, but also because they signal a possible shift within the Obama administration. Consider what Bill Daley, the White House chief of staff, said about Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday, which was far less encouraging:

“I don’t know if it’s helpful. I wouldn’t characterize it that way. Look it—people express their opinions. In the new social network world, they can do it pretty effectively outside the normal way, historically, people have done it. So whether it’s helpful to us, or helpful for people to understand in the political system that there are a lot of people out there concerned about the economy—I know the focus is on Wall Street, but it’s a broader discussion that we’re having.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was similarly indifferent. Asked by Atlantic editor James Bennet if he felt any sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street protesters, Geithner replied: “No, I feel a lot of sympathy for what you might describe as the—as a general sense among Americans is whether, you know, we’ve lost a sense of possibility.”

But if Daley and Geithner doesn’t feel much sympathy, Obama and Biden apparently do. And that’s a big development for the angry, boisterous protesters making their home in Zuccotti Park.

At the same time, the Democratic rank-and-file continues to rally behind the Occupy protests. Those voicing their support include former presidential candidate Howard Dean; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); House Democratic Caucus leader John Larson (D-Conn.); progressive House members Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, and Dennis Kucinich; and former senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate