Transcript: George Stephanopoulos Interviews President Obama

OBAMA: Well, you know, I'm a big history buff. And I think that understanding the history of the Confederacy and understanding the history of the Civil War is something that every American and every young American should, should be a part of. Now, I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so, I think that was a -- an unacceptable omission. I think the governor's now acknowledged that.

And I think it's just a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion, that, you know, we, we'd better do so thinking through how this is going to affect a lot of people. And -- and their sense of whether their part of a commonwealth or part of a -- of -- of our broader society.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, speaking of history, a new book out by David Remnick, a biography of you, includes a story from the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. She recounts the conversation she had with you during the campaign where she was really struck by your ambition. She said -- she quotes you saying, "I have no desire to be one of those presidents who are just on the list, you see their pictures lined up on the wall." You're pretty confident that you're going to avoid that fate?

OBAMA: Well, look, here's what I've been spending my time thinking about. I'm pretty confident that we're not going to plunge into a Great Depression, which I wasn't so clear about a year ago. I'm pretty confident that we've stabilized the financial system. I'm pretty confident that economy's on the mend, and we -- that -- I'm also pretty confident that we've got a heck of a lot of work to do to put people back to work. I'm confident that health care was the right thing to do, and that's going to be a significant achievement when generations look back on it. And I think this START Treaty that we signed is -- is the start of a good direction for American national security policy. But I'm going to wait until I'm maybe 10 years out of office before I start making assessments about how I did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mr. President, thanks very much.

OBAMA: All right, thank you, George. Appreciate it.

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