Obama: 'What the heck was I thinking?'

President Obama jested that he has often questioned himself over the years, telling an audience gathered Wednesday for the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House: “Now all of us have moments when we look back and wonder, ‘What the heck was I thinking?’ I have that quite a bit.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The quip, which elicited laughs from the crowd in the East Room, came as Obama introduced one of the honorees, psychologist Daniel Kahneman.

Obama said of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences winner, “He’s also been called an expert on irrational behavior, so I’m sure he could shed some light on Washington.”

Kahneman was one of 16 recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor, which included a number of high-profile personalities, such as former President Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.

While describing the talk show queen, Obama said, “Early in Oprah Winfrey’s career, her bosses told her she should change her name to Susie. I have to pause here to say I got the same advice.”

The president paused before clarifying, “They didn’t say I should be named Susie, but they suggested I should change my name.”

Also among the Medal of Freedom honorees: Chicago Cubs player Ernie Banks, The Washington Post's former executive editor Ben Bradlee, the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), country music singer Loretta Lynn, the late astronaut Sally Ride, deceased civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, jazz musician Arturo Sandoval, basketball coach Dean Smith, writer and women’s equality activist Gloria Steinem, scientist Mario Molina, civil rights leader Cordy Tindell Vivian, and Judge Patricia Wald.