President Obama twice on Wednesday suggested to a foreign audience that Americans are in some ways lazier than citizens of other nations.
Speaking at a town hall meeting at Souphanouvong University in Laos, Obama said that Americans can be lazy when it comes to protecting the environment as well as when learning about other cultures.
“Usually, if you see the environment destroyed, it’s not because that’s necessary for development,” Obama said, according to a transcript provided by USA Today reporter Gregory Korte. “It’s usually because we are being lazy, and we’re not being as creative as we could be about how to do it in the smarter, sustainable way.”
Obama, who is in Laos to attend a summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), also asserted that Americans can “sometimes…feel lazy” when it comes to learning about other cultures.
“I believe that the United States is and can be a force for good in the world,” he told the audience. “But because we’re such a big country, we haven’t always had to know about other parts of the world.”
“If you are in Laos, you need to know about Thailand and China and Cambodia, because you’re a small country and they’re right next door and you need to know who they are,” he continued. “If you’re in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think, you know, we’re so big we don’t have to really know anything about other people.”
“That’s part of what I’m trying to change, because this is actually the region that’s going to grow faster than anyplace in the world,” Obama continued.
Obama has acknowledged in the past that he, too, can be lazy at times.
“There is a deep down, underneath all the work I do, I think there’s a laziness in me,” Obama told Barbara Walters during a December 2011 interview.
WATCH (Obama’s criticism begins at 20:30):