While mourners gathered for the funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan the president was busy elsewhere.
Stars from politics, journalism and Hollywood attended the service for Reagan, including first lady Michelle Obama, Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura.
President Obama was at another pressing engagement.
He picked up some tacos at a place called “Torchy’s Tacos” and headed on over to the South By Southwest Convention, known affectionately as “the Super Bowl for nerds.”
“I ordered the Democrat, but then I ordered a Republican and an Independent, because I wanted to give all people a proper hearing. I wanted to be fair,” he told the crowd of the three tacos he purchased.
As usual Obama, who was the keynote speaker, was modest and humble.
“Because of me we avoided a great depression. Thanks, Obama,” he told the crowd.
After his lunch order and self-praise, the focus of his speech was on how government can work with the technology sector and his embarrassment over the initial failure of his Obamacare website.
“This was a little embarrassing for me because I was the cool, early-adapter president,” he said. “My entire campaign had been premised on having really cool technology and social media.”
But, he said, it led to vast improvements in the government’s use of technology.
“What happened was we had to bring in a SWAT team of all my friends from Silicon Valley and Austin to fix it, which we did in three to four months time.
“We realized we could build a world-class tech office inside the government that was helping across agencies.
“It’s called the U.S. Digital Service and made of top talents from Google, Facebook and top tech companies,” he told the attendees.
And while he avoided the controversy surrounding the FBI demanding Apple build a backdoor to the iPhone so it can access information on the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists he did say there shouldn’t be technology the government cannot get into.
“We have to ask if it is possible to make an impenetrable device with encryption so strong there’s no door, how do we apprehend the child pornographer?” he said.
“How do we solve or disrupt terrorist plots? What mechanisms do we have available to do simple things like tax enforcement?
“There has to be some consensus to get into that information somehow.”
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