Barack Obama

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When we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th President of the United States of America. Born in Hawaii, the son of a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas, the former United States Senator from Illinois won the 2008 presidential election to become the first president of African-American descent. The inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States took place on January 20, 2009. In October 2009 he was announced to be the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. He was re-elected president in November 2012, and was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2013.

See also:

Dreams from My Father (1995)
The Audacity of Hope (2006)

Contents

Quotes

I feel good when I'm engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what's happening to poor folks in this society.

1990

  • I'm not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I'm not interested in isolating myself. I feel good when I'm engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what's happening to poor folks in this society.
    • Informing the interviewer that he wasn't interested in merely being a financial success and moving to the suburbs, in "No Cushy Post for this Pioneer Harvard Law Review Chief Plans to Work in Inner City", by Allison J Pugh in The Akron Beacon-Journal (19 April 1990).
  • It's crucial that people don't see my election as somehow a symbol of progress in the broader sense, that we don't sort of point to (me) any more than you point to a Bill Cosby or a Michael Jordan and say, "Well, things are hunky-dory." There's certainly racism here. Professors may treat black students differently, sometimes by being, sort of, more dismissive, sometimes by being more, sort of, careful because they think, you know, they think that somehow we can't cope in the classroom.
    • On his election to be the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, as quoted in "No Cushy Post for this Pioneer Harvard Law Review Chief Plans to Work in Inner City", by Allison J Pugh in The Akron Beacon-Journal (19 April 1990).

1996

  • Bob Dole seems to me to be a classic example of somebody who had no reason to run. You're 73 years old, you're already the third-most-powerful man in the country. So why? He seems to be drawn by some psychological compulsion. And it's too bad because in a lot of ways, he's an admirable person. There's a great story there. And Bill Clinton? Well, his campaign's fascinating to a student of politics. It's disturbing to someone who cares about certain issues. But politically, it seems to be working.
    • As quoted in "A Newcomer to the Business of Politics has Seen Enough to Reach Some Conclusions About Restoring Voters' Trust", by Joe Frolik, inThe Plain Dealer (3 August 1996).
  • You got these $10,000-a-plate dinners and Golden Circles Clubs. I think when the average voter looks at that, they rightly feel they're locked out of the process. They can't attend a $10,000 breakfast and they know that those who can are going to get the kind of access they can't imagine.
    • As quoted in "A Newcomer to the Business of Politics has Seen Enough to Reach Some Conclusions About Restoring Voters' Trust", by Joe Frolik, inThe Plain Dealer (3 August 1996).

1998

  • I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution — at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot.

2000

  • Throughout its history, Israel has been anxious to make peace with its Arab neighbors. If successful, the current peace process is a potential opportunity for Israel to increase its security, normalize relations with its neighbors, and create a more stable and prosperous Middle East. Resolution of the conflict depends on direct negotiations between the parties based on mutual respect and recognition. The United States’ commitment to Israel must continue so Israel can negotiate with its former and current adversaries from a position of strength... Israel can take risks for peace only because of unwavering American support.

2002

I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.
  • I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
  • Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.… The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors…and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
    • Remarks of Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama Against Going to War with Iraq (2 October 2002).

2003

2004

A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, "Huh. It works. It makes sense."
My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another's heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with abstract, serene satisfaction.
  • I opposed DOMA in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying. ... I know how important the issue of equal rights is to the LGBT community. I share your sense of urgency. If I am elected U.S. Senator, you can be confident that my colleagues in the Senate and the President will know my position.
  • Where the stakes are the highest, in the war on terror, we cannot possibly succeed without extraordinary international cooperation. Effective international police actions require the highest degree of intelligence sharing, planning and collaborative enforcement.
    • Speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (12 July 2004).
  • The [Bush] Administration's failure to be consistently involved in helping Israel achieve peace with the Palestinians has been both wrong for our friendship with Israel, as well as badly damaging to our standing in the Arab world. I do not pretend to have all the answers to this vexing problem, and untangling the issues involved is an appropriate topic for a separate speech. What I can say is this: not only must we be consistent, but we will not succeed unless we have the cooperation of the European Union and the Arab States in pressing for reforms within the Palestinian community.
    • Speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (12 July 2004).
  • Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terrorism have reduced the pace of military transformation and have revealed our lack of preparation for defensive and stability operations. This Administration has overextended our military.
    • Speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (12 July 2004).
  • On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago. There's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage.
    • "Obama's a Star Who Doesn't Follow the Script" by John Kass in The Chigago Tribune (27 July 2004).
  • You know, my faith is one that admits some doubt.
  • And then, on September 11, 2001, the world fractured. It's beyond my skill as a writer to capture that day, and the days that would follow — the planes, like specters, vanishing into steel and glass; the slow-motion cascade of the towers crumbling into themselves; the ash-covered figures wandering the streets; the anguish and the fear. Nor do I pretend to understand the stark nihilism that drove the terrorists that day and that drives their brethren still. My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another's heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with abstract, serene satisfaction.
  • No one is pro-abortion.
    • Speech at Benedictine University (5 October 2004).
  • Our first and immutable commitment must be to the security of Israel, our only true ally in the Middle East and the only democracy,
    • Chicago Daily Herald (18 October 2004) [1]
  • There are some who might say that somebody named Barack Obama can’t be elected senator in the state of Illinois. They’re probably the same folks who said that a guy named Rod Blagojevich couldn’t be elected governor of the state of Illinois.
    • On a campaign trail. [2]

Democratic National Convention speech (July 2004)

Speech at the Democratic National Convention (27 July 2004)
That is the true genius of America—a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.
There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there's the United States of America.
  • My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or blessed, believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.
  • Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation—not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That is the true genius of America—a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.
  • When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.
  • There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
  • There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there's the United States of America.
  • That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.
  • In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? I'm not talking about blind optimism here... No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!
  • We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.
  • John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded.

2005

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. ... Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.
  • Today, on this day of possibility, we stand in the shadow of a lanky, raw-boned man with little formal education who once took the stage at Old Main and told the nation that if anyone did not believe the American principles of freedom and equality, that those principles were timeless and all-inclusive, they should go rip that page out of the Declaration of Independence.
  • How does America find its way in this new, global economy? What will our place in history be? Like so much of the American story, once again, we face a choice. Once again, there are those who believe that there isn’t much we can do about this as a nation. That the best idea is to give everyone one big refund on their government—divvy it up by individual portions, in the form of tax breaks, hand it out, and encourage everyone to use their share to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own education, and so on. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it—Social Darwinism—every man or woman for him or herself. It’s a tempting idea, because it doesn’t require much thought or ingenuity. It allows us to say that those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford—tough luck. It allows us to say to the Maytag workers who have lost their job—life isn’t fair. It let’s us say to the child who was born into poverty—pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And it is especially tempting because each of us believes we will always be the winner in life’s lottery, that we’re the one who will be the next Donald Trump, or at least we won’t be the chump who Donald Trump says: “You’re fired!” But there is a problem. It won’t work. It ignores our history. It ignores the fact that it’s been government research and investment that made the railways possible and the internet possible. It’s been the creation of a massive middle class, through decent wages and benefits and public schools that allowed us all to prosper. Our economic dependence depended on individual initiative. It depended on a belief in the free market; but it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we’re all in it together and everybody’s got a shot at opportunity. That’s what’s produced our unrivaled political stability.
    • Knox College Commencement Address (4 June 2005).
  • Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. ... Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.
    • Knox College Commencement Address (4 June 2005).
  • I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator.
    • "Uncovering the Real Abe Lincoln : What I See in Lincoln's Eyes" Time Magazine (26 June 2005).

2006

Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations...
Through words he gave voice to the voiceless. Through deeds he gave courage to the faint of heart.
He pointed the way for us — a land no longer torn asunder with racial hatred and ethnic strife … a land in which all of God's children might come together in a spirit of brotherhood.
Throughout American history, there have been moments that call on us to meet the challenges of an uncertain world, and pay whatever price is required to secure our freedom.
  • The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
    • Speech on the floor of the US Senate in which he opposed raising the US debt limit. (16 March 2006).
  • Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation — at least, not just; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.
  • Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations... I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher... We've got it all.
  • And at some point, I know that one of my daughters will ask, perhaps my youngest, will ask, "Daddy, why is this monument here? What did this man do?" How might I answer them? Unlike the others commemorated in this place, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a president of the United States — at no time in his life did he hold public office. He was not a hero of foreign wars. He never had much money, and while he lived he was reviled at least as much as he was celebrated. By his own accounts, he was a man frequently racked with doubt, a man not without flaws, a man who, like Moses before him, more than once questioned why he had been chosen for so arduous a task — the task of leading a people to freedom, the task of healing the festering wounds of a nation's original sin. And yet lead a nation he did. Through words he gave voice to the voiceless. Through deeds he gave courage to the faint of heart. By dint of vision, and determination, and most of all faith in the redeeming power of love, he endured the humiliation of arrest, the loneliness of a prison cell, the constant threats to his life, until he finally inspired a nation to transform itself, and begin to live up to the meaning of its creed.
    Like Moses before him, he would never live to see the Promised Land. But from the mountain top, he pointed the way for us — a land no longer torn asunder with racial hatred and ethnic strife, a land that measured itself by how it treats the least of these, a land in which strength is defined not simply by the capacity to wage war but by the determination to forge peace — a land in which all of God's children might come together in a spirit of brotherhood.
    We have not yet arrived at this longed for place. For all the progress we have made, there are times when the land of our dreams recedes from us — when we are lost, wandering spirits, content with our suspicions and our angers, our long-held grudges and petty disputes, our frantic diversions and tribal allegiances. And yet, by erecting this monument, we are reminded that this different, better place beckons us, and that we will find it not across distant hills or within some hidden valley, but rather we will find it somewhere in our hearts.
    • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Groundbreaking Ceremony (13 November 2006).
  • Throughout American history, there have been moments that call on us to meet the challenges of an uncertain world, and pay whatever price is required to secure our freedom. They are the soul-trying times our forbearers spoke of, when the ease of complacency and self-interest must give way to the more difficult task of rendering judgment on what is best for the nation and for posterity, and then acting on that judgment — making the hard choices and sacrifices necessary to uphold our most deeply held values and ideals. This was true for those who went to Lexington and Concord. It was true for those who lie buried at Gettysburg. It was true for those who built democracy’s arsenal to vanquish fascism, and who then built a series of alliances and a world order that would ultimately defeat communism. And this has been true for those of us who looked on the rubble and ashes of 9/11, and made a solemn pledge that such an atrocity would never again happen on United States soil; that we would do whatever it took to hunt down those responsible, and use every tool at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, and military — to root out both the agents of terrorism and the conditions that helped breed it.
    • "A Way Forward in Iraq", Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (20 November 2006).
  • We cannot afford to be a country of isolationists right now. 9/11 showed us that try as we might to ignore the rest of the world, our enemies will no longer ignore us. And so we need to maintain a strong foreign policy, relentless in pursuing our enemies and hopeful in promoting our values around the world. But to guard against isolationist sentiments in this country, we must change conditions in Iraq and the policy that has characterized our time there – a policy based on blind hope and ideology instead of fact and reality.
    Americans called for this more serious policy a few Tuesdays ago. It’s time that we listen to their concerns and win back their trust. I spoke here a year ago and delivered a message about Iraq that was similar to the one I did today. I refuse to accept the possibility that I will have to come back a year from now and say the same thing. There have been too many speeches. There have been too many excuses. There have been too many flag-draped coffins, and there have been too many heartbroken families. The time for waiting in Iraq is over. It is time to change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back. And it is time to refocus America’s efforts on the wider struggle yet to be won.
    • "A Way Forward in Iraq", Remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (20 November 2006).
  • Most of all, I want to thank you for all the generous advance coverage you've given me in anticipation of a successful career. When I actually do something, we'll let you know.

2007

I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics. So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need.
I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington, but I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change. People who love their country can change it.
It is time for us to fundamentally change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back. And it is time to refocus America's efforts on the challenges we face at home and the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
  • I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics. So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need...The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, commonsense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.
  • There are countless reasons the American people have lost confidence in the President's Iraq policy, but chief among them has been the administration's insistence on making promises and assurances about progress and victory that do not appear to be grounded in the reality of the facts. We have been told we would be greeted as liberators. We have been promised the insurgency was in its last throes. We have been assured again and again that we are making progress and that the Iraqis would soon stand up so we could stand down and our brave sons and daughters could start coming home. We have been asked to wait, we have been asked to be patient, and we have been asked to give the President and the new Iraqi Government 6 more months, and then 6 more months after that, and then 6 more months after that.
    • Floor Statement on President's Decision to Increase Troops in Iraq (19 January 2007).
  • I have been a consistent and strong opponent of this war. I have also tried to act responsibly in that opposition to ensure that, having made the decision to go into Iraq, we provide our troops, who perform valiantly, the support they need to complete their mission. I have also stated publicly that I think we have both strategic interests and humanitarian responsibilities in ensuring that Iraq is as stable as possible under the circumstances. Finally, I said publicly that it is my preference not to micromanage the Commander-in-Chief in the prosecution of war. Ultimately, I do not believe that is the ideal role for Congress to play. But at a certain point, we have to draw a line. At a certain point, the American people have to have some confidence that we are not simply going down this blind alley in perpetuity.
    When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the President on another tried-and-failed policy, opposed by generals and experts, opposed by Democrats and Republicans, opposed by Americans and even the Iraqis themselves. It is time to change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back, and it is time to refocus America's effort on the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
    • Floor Statement on President's Decision to Increase Troops in Iraq (19 January 2007).
  • The U.S. military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in Iraq. Our troops have done all that we have asked them to do and more. But no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants.
    It is my firm belief that the responsible course of action - for the United States, for Iraq, and for our troops - is to oppose this reckless escalation and to pursue a new policy. This policy that I've laid out is consistent with what I have advocated for well over a year, with many of the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, and with what the American people demanded in the November election.
    When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience, is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the President on another tried and failed policy opposed by generals and experts, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and many of the Iraqis themselves.
    It is time for us to fundamentally change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back. And it is time to refocus America's efforts on the challenges we face at home and the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
    • Floor Statement on Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007 (30 January 2007).
  • It is important at this point that Congress offer specific constructive approaches to what’s proven to be a foreign policy disaster because we’ve got too much at stake to simply stand on the sidelines and criticize...If we simply cut off funding without any structure for how a redeployment takes place, then you could genuinely have a Constitutional crisis or at least a crisis on the ground where the president continues to send troops there but now they’re being shortchanged in terms of armaments and support...The notion that as a consequence of that [2002 Congressional] authorization, the president can continue down a failed path without any constraints from Congress whatsoever is wrong and is not warranted by our Constitution.
  • We've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We are distracted from our real failures and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants, and as people have looked away in frustration and disillusionment, we know who has filled the void. The cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests, who've turned government into only a game they can afford to play. They write the checks while you get stuck with the bill. They get access while you get to write a letter.
    • Announcement of Candidacy for President of the United States. (10 February 2007).
  • The Israeli people, and Prime Minister Olmert, have made clear that they are more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and security. But the Israelis must trust that they have a true Palestinian partner for peace. That is why we must strengthen the hands of Palestinian moderates who seek peace and that is why we must maintain the isolation of Hamas and other extremists who are committed to Israel's destruction.
  • In Africa, you often see that the difference between a village where everybody eats and a village where people starve is government. One has a functioning government, and the other does not. Which is why it bothers me when I hear people say that government is the enemy. They don't understand its fundamental role.
    • Profile in The Independent Magazine (10 March 2007).
  • Nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people from this whole process. And I would like to see — if we could get some movement from Palestinian leadership — what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people.
  • Look at what happened in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast when Katrina hit. People ask me whether they thought race was the reason the response was so slow. I say, "well, no, this administration was colorblind in its incompetence." But, everyone here knows that the disaster and the poverty happened long before the hurricane hit.
  • And so God is asking us today to remember the miracle of that baby and he's asking us, he says, "Take the bullet out!" If we have more black men in prison than in our colleges and universities, then it's time to take the bullet out. If we have millions of people goin' to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma, it's time to take the bullet out. If too many of our kids don't have health insurance, it's time to take that bullet out. If we keep sending our kids to crumblin' school buildings, we keep fighting this war in Iraq, a war that should've never been authorized and should've never been waged, a war that costing us 20 cents — $275 million a day, that could have been invested in rebuilding communities all across this country, then it's time to take that bullet out!
  • Now here's the thing, when 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said, "This is too serious a problem. We can't expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here's ten dollars." And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, "Look at this devastation. We don't expect you to come up with y'own money, here. Here's the money to rebuild. We're not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you're part of the American family." What's happening down in New Orleans? "Where's your dollar? Where's your Stafford Act money?" Makes no sense! Tells me the bullet hasn't been taken out. Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don't care about as much!
  • We know that our faith sometimes has been used as a wedge to divide us, but we also know that with a big God, with a loving and forceful God, if we unite in his name, we can finish his work on Earth. In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. With a uniting faith, with a God powerful enough to empower us, we can take those bullets out.
  • There was a team that took that bullet out of the baby, 15 years ago. She's got a scar on her arm, always will, but she will survive. Just like America will survive. Just like black folks will survive. We won't forget where we came from. We won't forget what happened 19 months ago, or 15 years ago, or 300 years ago. We know who the head surgeon is, we're on the case, we're going to pull bullet after bullet out.
  • I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.
  • The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action. As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J.Res.23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.”
    • In response to a question "In what circumstances would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?"
    • Boston Globe questionnaire on Executive Power, December 20, 2007.[6]

2008

Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.
Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.
Our destiny is not written for us, but by us.
Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
I try to explain … something about the Aloha Spirit. I try to explain … this basic idea that we all have obligations to each other, that we're not alone...
We've been divided for so long, we've been arguing for so long, a lot of times about things that aren't even worth arguing about, and ignoring the things that we should be doing to make the next generation have a better life — that I think people are hungry for a new politics, they're hungry for change...
Contrary to the rumours that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.
  • Years from now, you'll look back and you'll say that this was the moment, this was the place where America remembered what it means to hope. For many months, we've been teased, even derided for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.
  • We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.
  • There was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq, until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.
    • Speech in Columbus, Ohio (27 February 2008).
  • John McCain once opposed these tax cuts — he rightly called them unfair and fiscally irresponsible. But now he has done an about face and wants to make them permanent, just like he wants a permanent occupation in Iraq. No matter what the costs, no matter what the consequences, John McCain seems determined to carry out a third Bush term...
  • The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity — she doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society. We have to break through it. And what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little bit less like that, and that's pretty powerful stuff.
  • You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
  • Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare up because I said something that everybody knows is true which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois who are bitter. They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they're going through. So I said well you know when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country or they get frustrated about you know how things are changing. That's a natural response. And now I didn't say it as well as I should have because you know the truth is is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation those are important. That's what sustains us. But what is absolutely true is that people don't feel like they are being listened to. And so they pray and they count on each other and they count on their families. You know this in your own lives and what we need is a government that is actually paying attention. Government that is fighting for working people day in and day out making sure that we are trying to allow them to live out the American dream. And that's what this campaign is about. We've got to get past the divisions. We've got to get past the distractions of our politics and fight for each other. That is why I am running for president of the United States. And I think we've got an opportunity to bring about that change right here and right now. But I'm gonna need your help Indiana. I'm gonna need your help.
  • Gibson: And in each instance, when the [capital gains tax] rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
    Obama: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
  • I've known Reverend Wright for almost twenty years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met twenty years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs and if Reverend Wright thinks that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, well I may not know him as well as I thought either.
  • Over the last fifteen months we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in fifty...seven states... I think one left to go. One left to go — Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to, even though I really wanted to visit — but my staff would not justify it.
  • Now I know that if you listen to Washington or pay attention to the pundits, you hear a lot about how divided we are as a people. But that's not what I've found as I've traveled across this great country.
    Everywhere I go, I've been impressed by the values and hopes that we share. In big cities and small towns; among men and women; young and old; black, white, and brown — Americans share a faith in simple dreams.
  • Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, `We're going to wipe you off the planet."
  • You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits, but I hope you don't. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although I believe you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, although I do believe you have that debt. It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition.
  • I am reminded every day of my life, if not by events, then by my wife, that I am not a perfect man.
    • Speech in Mitchell, South Dakota; (1 June 2008).
  • I honor — we honor — the service of John McCain, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.
  • You know in your hearts that at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say — let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.
    • Speech following the Minnesota primary (3 June 2008).
  • The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
  • The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents -- #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic.
  • I was a little puzzled by the frenzy that I set off by what I thought was a pretty innocuous statement, which is that I am absolutely committed to ending the war. I'm not trying to dump on you guys, but I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything that I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago, or when I was a U.S. senator. If you look at our position, it's been very consistent. The notion that we have to get out carefully has been a consistent position. ... I think what's happened is that the McCain campaign primed the pump with the press to suggest that somehow we were changing our policy when we hadn't and that just hasn't been the case. I've given no indication of a change in policy ... I think John McCain's going to have a much harder time explaining how he is willing to perpetuate a presence in Iraq for 10, 20, 50 years.
  • Nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they are going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know he — oh, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all of those other presidents on those dollar bills.
    • Campaign rally in Springfield, Missouri, July 30, 2008 [7]
  • I remain skeptical that new offshore drilling will bring down gas prices in the short-term or significantly reduce our oil dependence in the long-term, though I do welcome the establishment of a process that will allow us to make future drilling decisions based on science and fact. But I've always believed that finding consensus will be essential to solving our energy crisis and today's package represents a good faith effort at a new bipartisan beginning.
  • My interest is in making sure we‘ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well-thought out oil strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage. I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done.
  • So, now the Republicans are going around — this is the kind of thing they do. I don't understand it. They are going around. They're sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea, as if this is Barack Obama's energy plan. Now, two points. One, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is. But the other thing is, they are making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 percent to 4 percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant, you know? I mean, they think it's funny that they're making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework, because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference.
  • People ask me... "What do you still bring from Hawaii? How does it affect your character, how does it affect your politics?" I try to explain to them something about the Aloha Spirit. I try to explain to them this basic idea that we all have obligations to each other, that we're not alone, that if we see somebody who's in need we should help... that we look out for one another, that we deal with each other with courtesy and respect, and most importantly, that when you come from Hawaii, you start understanding that what's on the surface, what people look like — that doesn't determine who they are.
    And that the power and strength of diversity, the ability of people from everywhere ... whether they're black or white, whether they're Japanese-Americans or Korean-Americans or Filipino-Americans or whatever they are, they are just Americans, that all of us can work together and all of us can join together to create a better country.
    And it's that spirit, that I'm absolutely convinced, is what America is looking for right now.
    Because we've been divided for so long, we've been arguing for so long, a lot of times about things that aren't even worth arguing about, and ignoring the things that we should be doing to make the next generation have a better life — that I think people are hungry for a new politics, they're hungry for change, and that's why I decided to run for President of the United States.
  • Well, I think that you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective. Answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something that obviously the country wrestles with.
  • Tim Kaine has a message of fiscal responsibility and generosity of spirit. That kind of message can sell anywhere.
    • About Virginia governor Tom Kaine, a possible VP candidate [8]
  • By the way, I've been called worse on the basketball court. Its not a big deal.
    • Response to remarks by Alaska governor Sarah Palin (4 September)].
  • It is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it's an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the United States.
    It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades.
    And we can do it, but we're going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we've got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well.
    And that's why we've got to make some investments and I've called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal.
  • So we pulled up to this diner, where people told us that we could get some good pie. And I like pie. Do you like pie too? So, we go in there, and we say, "Oh, what kind of pie you got?' And they didn't have sweet potato pie, they didn't have pumpkin pie. They had some cream pies mostly, which is OK with me. So, I got some coconut cream pie. And Governor Strickland, he got lemon meringue pie.
    So while we're waiting for our pie, the staff come and they want to take a picture with me because they say, you know, the owner of this dinner is a staunch die-hard Republican, so we want to kind of tease him a little bit by getting this picture with you. So we're taking this picture and suddenly the owner comes out with the pie. And he looks at me and I say, "Sir, I understand that you are a die-hard Republican." He says, "That's right." I said, "How's business?" He said, "Not so good." He said, "My customer, they can't afford to eat out anymore." I said, "Who's been in charge of the economy for the last eight years?" He said, "Republicans." I said, "You know, if you kept on hitting your head against a wall over and over again and it started to hurt, at some point would you stop hitting your head against the wall?" He said, "You've got a point."
  • It is true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest Americans and go back to the rate that they paid under Bill Clinton. John McCain calls that socialism. What he forgets, conveniently, is that just a few years ago, he himself said those Bush tax cuts were irresponsible. He said he couldn't in good conscience support tax cuts where the benefit went to the wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans who most need the tax relief. That's his quote. Well, he was right then, and I am right now.
  • What Senator McCain has lately been suggesting is that somehow I'm going to take money from people making over $250,000, and give it to people who "pay no taxes". What he's confusing is the fact that even if you don't pay income tax, there are a lot of people who don't pay income tax, but you're still paying a whole lot of other taxes. You're paying payroll tax, which is a huge burden on a lot of middle-income families. You're paying sales taxes. You're paying property taxes. There are a whole host of taxes that you're paying. So when we provide an offset to the waitress or the janitor, these folks are working. This isn't some giveaway to people who are on welfare. This is giving help to people who are working hard every day.
  • She was somebody who was a very humble person and a very plain spoken person. She's one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America ... They're not famous, their names aren't in the newspapers. But, each and every day, they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that—mothers and fathers, grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives, and the satisfaction that they get is seeing that their children and maybe their grandchildren or their great-children live a better life than they did. And that's what America is about. That's what we're fighting for. And North Carolina, with just one more day, we have the opportunity to honor all of those quiet heroes all across America and all across North Carolina. We can bring change to America to make sure that their work and their sacrifice is honored. That's what we're fighting for.
    • Obama speaking about his grandmother Madelyn Dunham at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina (3 November 2008).
  • The truth is that, promoting science isn't just about providing resources, it's about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It's about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it's inconvenient, especially when it's inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States, and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.

Yes, we can speech (January 2008)

Delivered at the New Hampshire Democratic primary on 8 January 2008
 The battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. [...] we are not as divided as our politics suggests [...] we are one people, we are one nation. And, together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.
  • We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. They will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks and months to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check; we've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.
  • And so tomorrow, as we take the campaign South and West; as we learn that the struggles of the textile workers in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas; that the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of L.A.; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people, we are one nation. And, together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.

A More Perfect Union (March 2008)

Speech on race relations; Delivered at the National Constitution Center across from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA (18 March 2008).
 We cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together — unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction — towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
  • "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
    Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy.
  • The document they produced was eventually signed, but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
    Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
    And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggles, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience, and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
  • This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this presidential campaign: to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together — unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction — towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
  • For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
    And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
  • The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
    And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
    I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
    These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
  • But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their world-view in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years.
    That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop, or the beauty shop, or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failing. And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning.
  • It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. And contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidate - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
    But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice. We have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
  • For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans: the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man who's been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means also taking full responsibility for our own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism. They must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
  • In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - that these things are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
  • This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation — the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
  • Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
    "I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
    But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

A World that Stands as One (July 2008)

Speech delivered in Berlin, Germany (24 July 2008)
 The scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.
  • Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity. That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
  • History reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.
  • I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
    But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please. These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart.
  • People of Berlin — and people of the world — the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Election victory speech (November 2008)

Victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois (4 November 2008)
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
  • If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer ... It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
    We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
    It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
    It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America.
  • I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.
    I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.
    It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
    It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
    This is your victory.
    And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.
    You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
    Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
  • The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
    I promise you, we as a people will get there.
  • There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.
    But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.
  • This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.
    It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
    So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
  • In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
  • To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
  • This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
    Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

2009

  • So we have a choice to make. We can once again let Washington's bad habits stand in the way of progress. Or we can pull together and say that in America, our destiny isn't written for us but by us. We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We can act boldly to turn crisis into opportunity and, together, write the next great chapter in our history and meet the test of our time.
  • Then you get the argument, "Well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill." What do you think a stimulus is? That's the whole point! No, seriously, that's the point!
  • So tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.
    • First address to Congress (24 February 2009).
  • But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
    • First address to Congress (24 February 2009).
We have a choice. We can shape our future, or let events shape it for us. And if we want to succeed, we can't fall back on the stale debates and old divides that won't move us forward.
Don’t shortchange the future, because of fear in the present.
  • Now, before I begin, I'd just like to clear the air about that little controversy everybody was talking about a few weeks back. I have to tell you, I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. It won't happen again. President Crow and the board of regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.
  • If you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.
    • Interview with Laura Haim, Canal Plus, France.[10], White House Library (1 June 2009).
  • But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that's not making anybody's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know and your mom know, that you know what, maybe this isn't going to help, maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.

    And those kinds of decisions between doctors and patients, and making sure that our incentives are not preventing those good decisions and that the doctors and hospitals all are aligned for patient care — that's something we can achieve.

No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. This—that is not democracy; that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. [...] The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny.
While the future is unknowable, the winds always blow in the direction of human progress.
  • As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent, and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not. This is about more than just holding elections; it's also about what happens between elections. Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. And no country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. This—that is not democracy; that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end. In the 21st century, capable, reliable, and transparent institutions are the key to success: strong Parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges; an independent press; a vibrant private sector; a civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people's everyday lives.
  • My administration has a job to do as well. That job is to get this economy back on its feet. That's my job, and it's a job I gladly accept. I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, "Well this is Obama's economy." That's fine. GIVE IT TO ME. My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe. So, I welcome the job. I want the responsibility.
  • Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.
  • We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict ist not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocker will take her life in the night. It is paid by he Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God's children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. This is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land.
  • I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.
    To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize — men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
    But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
    • Remarks by the President on winning the Nobel Peace Prize" (9 October 2009).
  • Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.
    • Remarks by the President on winning the Nobel Peace Prize" (9 October 2009).
  • Now, what I do reject is when folks just sit on the sidelines and they're rooting for failure — whether it's on health care or energy or the economy — or the Olympics. [..] What I reject is when scoring political points is so important that you'd rather see failure. What I reject is when some folks want to go to the policies that helped get us into this mess in the first place — as if we don't remember. [..] We don't mind cleaning up the mess that was left for us. We're busy, we got our mops, we're, you know, mopping the floor here. But I don't want the folks who made the mess to just sit there and say, you're not mopping fast enough. I don't — I don't want them saying, you're not holding the mop the right way, or, that's a socialist mop. I want them to grab a mop. Grab a mop. Grab a mop — or a broom or something. Make yourself useful.
  • As America’s first Pacific president, I promise you that this Pacific nation will strengthen and sustain our leadership in this vitally important part of the world.
    • Tokyo, Japan, November 13, 2009. [12]

First Inaugural Address (January 2009)

Delivered on January 20, 2009, in Washington, D.C.. Full text at Wikisource
America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
Greatness is never a given. It must be earned.
Our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. [...] our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
As much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
  • Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
  • Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.
    They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
    On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
  • In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. [...] Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
  • We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
  • For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
  • Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
  • What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
  • Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
  • As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
  • Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
  • We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
    For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
  • To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
  • We can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
  • As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
    We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
    For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
  • Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
  • With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

A World without Nuclear Weapons (April 2009)

Delivered on April 5, 2009 at Hradcany Square in Prague, Czech Republic. Full text at Wikisource
Human destiny will be what we make of it. [...] Let us honor our past by reaching for a better future. Let us bridge our divisions, build upon our hopes, accept our responsibility to leave this world more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it. Together we can do it.
  • None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not on occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on.
  • Now, I know that there are some who will question whether we can act on such a broad agenda. There are those who doubt whether true international cooperation is possible, given inevitable differences among nations. And there are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it's worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve.
    But make no mistake: We know where that road leads. When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp. We know the path when we choose fear over hope. To denounce or shrug off a call for cooperation is an easy but also a cowardly thing to do. That's how wars begin. That's where human progress ends.
  • There is violence and injustice in our world that must be confronted. We must confront it not by splitting apart but by standing together as free nations, as free people. I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. But that is why the voices for peace and progress must be raised together.
  • Human destiny will be what we make of it. And here in Prague, let us honor our past by reaching for a better future. Let us bridge our divisions, build upon our hopes, accept our responsibility to leave this world more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it. Together we can do it.

A New Beginning (June 2009)

Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt (4 June 2009), Full text at Wikisource
The interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart. [...] If we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward.
No development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.
Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.
People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, and the heart, and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive [...].
A woman who is denied an education is denied equality. [...] Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity - men and women - to reach their full potential.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
  • So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the co-operation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
  • I have come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
  • I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.
  • As the Holy Koran tells us: "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do today - to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
  • Of course, recognising our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
  • I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
  • Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
  • For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities.
  • Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories, while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations large and small that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.
  • I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
    That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
    Now, there is no straight line to realise this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure.
  • Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people.
    This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
  • People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, and the heart, and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways. […] Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.
  • We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
  • A woman who is denied an education is denied equality.
  • I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity - men and women - to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.
  • The face of globalisation is contradictory. The internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change to communities. In all nations - including America - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith. But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition.
  • No development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.
  • All of us must recognise that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st Century.
  • I know there are many - Muslim and non-Muslim - who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort - that we are fated to disagree, and civilisations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply sceptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust that has build up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country - you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.
  • All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
  • It's easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward. It is easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is one rule that lies at the heart of every religion: that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples, a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.
  • We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."
The Talmud tells us, "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
  • The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.

Town Hall meeting in Shanghai (November 2009)

  • Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I noticed that young people — they're very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone. But I am a big believer in technology and I'm a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity. And so I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship.
  • I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet — or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged. Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn't flow so freely because then I wouldn't have to listen to people criticizing me all the time. I think people naturally are — when they're in positions of power sometimes thinks, oh, how could that person say that about me, or that's irresponsible, or — but the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear. It forces me to examine what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States. And I think the Internet has become an even more powerful tool for that kind of citizen participation.
    • Interview in Shanghai, as quoted in China Daily (17 November 2009).

Nobel Prize acceptance speech (December 2009)

I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That's why NATO continues to be indispensable.
We must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries.
The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached — their fundamental faith in human progress — that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that — for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.
Address in Oslo, Norway (9 December 2009)
  • I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations — that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
    And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honor than I.
    But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.
    Still, we are at war, and I'm responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict — filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.
  • Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.
  • In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.
    I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.
    We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.
    I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
    But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.
  • The world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
    So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another — that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.
  • I believe that all nations — strong and weak alike — must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I — like any head of state — reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don't.
  • More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.
    I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.
  • I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That's why NATO continues to be indispensable. That's why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries.
  • Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it.
  • Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor — we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard.
  • I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior — for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure — and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.
  • Peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.
    It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.
  • There has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists — a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values around the world.
    I reject these choices.
    I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America's interests — nor the world's — are served by the denial of human aspirations.
  • There's no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.
  • A just peace includes not only civil and political rights — it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
    It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
  • Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more — and that's the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there's something irreducible that we all share.
  • As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we're all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.
    And yet somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities — their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we're moving backwards.
  • The one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
    Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature.
    For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.
  • We do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached — their fundamental faith in human progress — that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
    For if we lose that faith — if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace — then we lose what's best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.
    Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."
    Let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.
  • We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that — for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

2010

Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.
  • We said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.
  • Let me just make this point, John...We're not campaigning anymore. The election's over.
    • Responding to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the healthcare summit after McCain complained about the proposed healthcare bill (25 February 2010)].
  • I said very early on, as a senator, and continued to believe as a presidential candidate and now as president that we can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the, the biggest attack that ever took place on our soil, we absorbed it and we are stronger. This is a strong, powerful country that we live in and our people are incredibly resilient.
  • We can never say it enough. The United States and the United Kingdom enjoy a truly special relationship. We celebrate a common heritage. We cherish common values. . . . Above all, our alliance thrives because it advances our common interests. . . . When the United States and the United Kingdom stand together, our people—and people around the world—are more secure and they are more prosperous. In short, the United States has no closer ally and no stronger partner than Great Britain.
  • I'm a Christian by choice. My family didn't — frankly, they weren't folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn't raise me in the church. So I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead — being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me. I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God. But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace. That's what I strive to do. That's what I pray to do every day. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith. … One thing I want to emphasize, having spoken about something that obviously relates to me very personally, as president of the United States I'm also somebody who deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and no faith… that this is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own.
    That's part of what makes this country what it is.
  • Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty. Because there are aspirations that human beings share -- the liberty of knowing that your leader is accountable to you, and that you won’t be locked up for disagreeing with them; the opportunity to get an education and to be able to work with dignity; the freedom to practice your faith without fear or restriction. Those are universal values that must be observed everywhere.

State Of The Union (January 2010)

Full transcript on CNN.
  • The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.
  • Let's try common sense. A novel concept.

2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (April 2010)

My experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me. I'm not interested in words. I'm interested in actions.
Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless. So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw. All I can do is make sure that I put honest, hard-working smart people in place…
Quotes by President Obama relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill which began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.
    • Speech at Solyndra, May 26, 2010. [13]
  • I have not spoken to him directly. Here's the reason. Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me. I'm not interested in words. I'm interested in actions.
  • Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless. So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw. All I can do is make sure that I put honest, hard-working smart people in place ... to implement this thing."

2011

Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.
  • Obama: Now, I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books, but that doesn't mean I don't know very well the real pain and heartbreak that deportations cause. I share your concerns and I understand them. And I promise you, we are responding to your concerns and working every day to make sure we are enforcing flawed laws in the most humane and best possible way. Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. [Applause] And believe me, right now dealing with Congress —
    Audience: Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can!
    Obama: Believe me — believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. [Laughter] I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. [Laughter] But that's not how — that's not how our system works.
    Audience member: Change it!
    Obama: That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written. So let’s be honest. I need a dance partner here — and the floor is empty.
  • Lincoln -- they used to talk about him almost as bad as they talk about me. So democracy has never been for the faint of heart.
  • Having encountered many setbacks, Havel lived with a spirit of hope, which he defined as “the ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world.
  • I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president -- with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln -- just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history.

Tucson Memorial Address (January 2011)

It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Remarks by the President at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona (12 January 2011), in response to the 2011 Tucson shootings - Transcript at The Washington Post.
We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.
All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.
  • To the families of those we've lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
  • There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
  • Gabby called it "Congress on Your Corner" — just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.
  • These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned — as it was on Saturday morning.
  • But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
  • Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
  • If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost.
  • I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here — they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
  • That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted. I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.
  • If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

Remarks on Egyptian protests (January 2011)

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny.
Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt (28 January 2011)
  • My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.
    The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny.  These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.
  • I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.
    At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully.  Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.
    Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise.  The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region. But we've also been clear that there must be reform — political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
  • When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity.  I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.
    Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people:  a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.
  • Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens.  That's true here in the United States; that's true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it’s certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.
    When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected President, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.
    Surely there will be difficult days to come. But the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

Remarks on Egyptian political transition (February 2011)

There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times.
Remarks by the President on Egypt (11 February 2011)
The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.
  • There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
  • I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
    Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years.  But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.
    We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.
    We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count.  My voice is heard.  Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”
    We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” — “We are peaceful” — again and again.
    We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.
    And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.
    We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.”  And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences.  We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
    And above all, we saw a new generation emerge — a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations.  One Egyptian put it simply:  Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.
    This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence.  For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.
  • Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.
    The word Tahrir means liberation.  It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom.  And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.

Address on the natural and nuclear energy disasters in Japan (March 2011)

We are working aggressively to support our Japanese ally at this time of extraordinary challenge.
In the midst of economic recovery and global upheaval, disasters like this remind us of the common humanity that we share.
Remarks by the President on the Situation in Japan (17 March 2011)
  • I wanted to update the American people on what we know about the situation in Japan, what we’re doing to support American citizens and the safety of our own nuclear energy, and how we are helping the Japanese people contain the damage, recover and rebuild.
  • Even as Japanese responders continue to do heroic work, we know that the damage to the nuclear reactors in Fukushima Daiichi plant poses a substantial risk to people who are nearby. That is why yesterday, we called for an evacuation of American citizens who are within 50 miles of the plant. This decision was based upon a careful scientific evaluation and the guidelines that we would use to keep our citizens safe here in the United States, or anywhere in the world.
  • I know that many Americans are also worried about the potential risks to the United States. So I want to be very clear: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. Let me repeat that: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. That is the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts.
  • Our nuclear power plants have undergone exhaustive study, and have been declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies. But when we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event, and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people.
    That’s why I’ve asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do a comprehensive review of the safety of our domestic nuclear plants in light of the natural disaster that unfolded in Japan.
  • We are working aggressively to support our Japanese ally at this time of extraordinary challenge. Search and rescue teams are on the ground in Japan to help the recovery effort. A disaster assistance and response team is working to confront the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. The U.S. military, which has helped to ensure the security of Japan for decades, is working around the clock.
  • We have an alliance that was forged more than a half century ago, and strengthened by shared interests and democratic values. Our people share ties of family, ties of culture, and ties of commerce. Our troops have served to protect Japan’s shores, and our citizens have found opportunity and friendship in Japan’s cities and towns.
  • I am confident that Japan will recover and rebuild because of the strength and spirit of the Japanese people. Over the last few days, they’ve opened up their homes to one another. They’ve shared scarce resources of food and water. They’ve organized shelters, provided free medical care, and looked out for their most vulnerable citizens. One man put it simply: “It’s a Japanese thing. When hard times hit, we have to help each other.”
  • In the midst of economic recovery and global upheaval, disasters like this remind us of the common humanity that we share. We see it in the responders who are risking their lives at Fukushima. We show it through the help that has poured into Japan from 70 countries. And we hear it in the cries of a child, miraculously pulled from the rubble.
    In the coming days, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of American citizens and the security of our sources of energy. And we will stand with the people of Japan as they contain this crisis, recover from this hardship, and rebuild their great nation.

Address on interventions in Libya(March 2011)

I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya — what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.
Address to the Nation on Libya (28 March 2011)
For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom.
When our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.
In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners.
While our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.
Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States.
For generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.
  • I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya — what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.
    I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.
    Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.
  • For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks. 
  • If we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
    It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen.
    And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. 
  • In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days.
  • I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.
    That’s not to say that our work is complete.
  • While our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.
  • Much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all — even in limited ways — in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.
    It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.
    To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.
  • America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful — yet fragile — transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.
  • There is no question that Libya — and the world — would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.
    The task that I assigned our forces — to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone — carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
  • To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.
  • As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do — and will do — is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Qaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Qaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Qaddafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Qaddafi’s side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.
  • As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That's why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country. 
    There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security — responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us. They’re problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.
    In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.
  • When one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States — in a region that has such a difficult history with our country — this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”
    This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer. 
    Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries.
    There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed. 
    The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference.
  • I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed at one’s own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.
    Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way.
    Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.
  • My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas -- when the news is filled with conflict and change -- it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star -- the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.
  • For generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity. 
    Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.

Remarks on death of Osama bin Laden (May 2011)

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country.
Tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.
The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.
Whitehouse transcript and video (1 May 2011)
  • Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
  • On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
    We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
  • Last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
    Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
  • For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.
    Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.
    There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must — and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.
    As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
  • The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.
    So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.
  • Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
    We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.
  • Tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
    The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
    Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
    Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

UN speech to General Assembly (September 2011)

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly, September 21, 2011
  • America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.
  • Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are.
  • The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
  • As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice -- protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?
  • Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria -- and the peace and security of the world -- we must speak with one voice. There's no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.

Remarks on the economy (July 2011)

  • I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension. That is just not an acceptable approach. And if we think it’s going to be hard -- if we think it’s hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season where they’re all up. It’s not going to get easier. It’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now -- pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas. Now is the time to do it. If not now, when?
  • Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a AAA country.

Remarks at a Dedication Ceremony for the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial (October 2011)

Change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination.
Barack Obama's remarks at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication at The National Mall in Washington, D.C. (16 October 2011)
  • First and foremost, let us remember that change has never been quick. Change has never been simple, or without controversy. Change depends on persistence. Change requires determination.
  • Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all; that aligning our reality with our ideals often requires the speaking of uncomfortable truths and the creative tension of non-violent protest. But he also understood that to bring about true and lasting change, there must be the possibility of reconciliation; that any social movement has to channel this tension through the spirit of love and mutuality. If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there; that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company’s union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain. He would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other’s love for this country -- (applause) -- with the knowledge that in this democracy, government is no distant object but is rather an expression of our common commitments to one another. He would call on us to assume the best in each other rather than the worst, and challenge one another in ways that ultimately heal rather than wound.

2012

Public service ought to be more than just doing what’s popular in the moment. [...] it ought to be about what’s right for our nation, over the long term. It ought to be about problem-solving and governance, not just how we can score political points on each other or engage in obstructionism. And where compromise is not a vice and where bipartisanship is a actually considered a virtue -- to be rewarded, not punished.
  • The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we've created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government — oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
  • Listen, it is absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine. That's the reason I had a press conference. That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine.
  • There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn't — look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, "well, it must be because I was just so smart." There are a lot of smart people out there. "It must be because I worked harder than everybody else." Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges; if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

  • I'll cut out government spending that's not working, that we can't afford, but I'm also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well. Just like we've tried their plan, we tried our plan — and it worked. That's the difference. That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.
  • Now, when we came together, we knew restoring that bargain — that deal, that compact — was not going to be easy. We knew it would take more than one year or one term or maybe even one President, because we had seen what had happened in the previous decade. Jobs had moved overseas. Folks were working harder and harder, but their wages or incomes, they were staying flat, sometimes even going down. The cost of everything from health care to college was going up. And then, it all culminated in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression — a crisis that robbed too many of our friends and our neighbors of jobs, the value of their homes, their savings. And all that pushed the American Dream even further out of reach for too many working people.
  • You know, I would say Incomplete...but what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.
    • quoted in Derby, Dianne (2012-09-03). "11 News Anchor Dianne Derby Interviews President Obama". kktv.com. Retrieved on 2012-09-04. 
    • posed question: Your party says you inherited a bad situation. You've had three and a half years to fix it. What grade would you give yourself so far for doing that?
  • I think that I've learned some lessons over the past four years, and the most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside. That's how I got elected and that's how the big accomplishments like health care got done – was because we mobilized the American people to speak out. That's how we were able to cut taxes for middle class families. So, something that I'd really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people, so that they can put pressure on Congress to move some of these issues forward.
  • The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt — it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted "Muslims, Christians, we are one." The future must not belong to those who bully women — it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons. The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country's resources — it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support. The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit." Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, and that is the vision we will support.
  • Now that we're 18 days before the election, Mr. Severely Conservative wants you to think he was severely kidding about everything he said over the last year. He told folks he was the ideal candidate for the Tea Party, now he's telling folks, "What? Who me?" He's forgetting what his own positions are. And he's betting that you will too. I mean, he's changing up so much and backtrackin' and sidesteppin'. We've gotta name this condition that he's going though. I think it's called Romnesia. That's what it's called. I think that's what he's goin' through. Now, I'm not a medical doctor, but I do wanna go over some of the symptoms with you, because I wanna make sure nobody else catches it.

    You know, if you say you're for equal pay for equal work, but you keep refusing to say whether or not you'd sign a bill that protects equal pay for equal work, you might have Romnesia.

    If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let your employer deny you contraceptive care, you might have a case of Romnesia.

    If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up in a primary debate and say that you'd be delighted to sign a law outlying — outlawing that right to choose in all cases — man, you definitely got Romnesia.

    Now, this extends to other issues. If you say earlier in the year, "I'm gonna give a tax cut to the top 1%", and in a debate you say, "I don't know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks", you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you've probably got Romnesia.

    If you say that you're a champion of the coal industry when, while you were governor, you stood in front of a coal plant and said "This plant will kill you" —[audience: Romnesia!] that's some Romnesia.

    And if you come down with a case of Romnesia and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises you've made over the six years you've been running for President, here's the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can fix you up.. We've got a cure. We can make you well, Virginia. This is a curable disease.

    • Campaign rally, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, 2012-10-19
  • The sequester is not something that I proposed. It's something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.
  • I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's: What are our capabilities?
  • When it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
  • But right now, the key is to make sure that the public is following instructions. For those of you who still need additional information about how to respond, you can go to Ready.gov -- that’s Ready.gov. And that website should provide you with all the information that your family needs in terms of how you can prepare for this storm.

Re-election Speech (November 2012)

Transcript of Barakc Obama's reelection speech as reported by FoxNews.com, (7 November 2012) Delievered at McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 2012.
While each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
Hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.
  • Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
  • Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today. But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future.
We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.
A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.
We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this -- this world has ever known.
But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being. We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.
To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner.
To the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president -- that's the future we hope for. That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go -- forward. That's where we need to go. Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.
  • The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That's the principle we were founded on. This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.
  • I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
  • America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try. I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America. And together with your help and God's grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Yangon University Speech (November 2012)

Remarks by President Obama at the University of Yangon, Rangoon, Burma, (19 November 2012)
No human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart. [...] A true revolution of the spirit begins in each of our hearts.
Power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people's fears.
No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation.
The most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen -- not President, not Speaker, but citizen.
  • [W]e were inspired by the fierce dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she proved that no human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart.
  • Even though we come from different places, we share common dreams: to choose our leaders; to live together in peace; to get an education and make a good living; to love our families and our communities. That’s why freedom is not an abstract idea; freedom is the very thing that makes human progress possible -- not just at the ballot box, but in our daily lives.
    One of our greatest Presidents in the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, understood this truth. He defined America’s cause as more than the right to cast a ballot. He understood democracy was not just voting. He called upon the world to embrace four fundamental freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These four freedoms reinforce one another, and you cannot fully realize one without realizing them all.
  • And to protect the freedom of all the voters, those in power must accept constraints. That's what our American system is designed to do. Now, America may have the strongest military in the world, but it must submit to civilian control. I, as the President of the United States, make determinations that the military then carries out, not the other way around. As President and Commander-In-Chief, I have that responsibility because I'm accountable to the people.
  • Now, on other hand, as President, I cannot just impose my will on Congress -- the Congress of the United States -- even though sometimes I wish I could. The legislative branch has its own powers and its own prerogatives, and so they check my power and balance my power. I appoint some of our judges, but I cannot tell them how to rule, because every person in America -- from a child living in poverty to me, the President of the United States -- is equal under the law. And a judge can make a determination as to whether or not I am upholding the law or breaking the law. And I am fully accountable to that law.
  • When ordinary people have a say in their own future, then your land can’t just be taken away from you.
  • And that kind of economic growth, where everybody has opportunity -- if you work hard, you can succeed -- that's what gets a nation moving rapidly when it comes to develop. But that kind of growth can only be created if corruption is left behind. For investment to lead to opportunity, reform must promote budgets that are transparent and industry that is privately owned.
  • Above all, when your voices are heard in government, it's far more likely that your basic needs will be met. And that’s why reform must reach the daily lives of those who are hungry and those who are ill, and those who live without electricity or water.
  • And let us remember that in a global economy, a country’s greatest resource is its people. So by investing in you, this nation can open the door for far more prosperity -- because unlocking a nation’s potential depends on empowering all its people, especially its young people.
  • Every nation struggles to define citizenship. America has had great debates about these issues, and those debates continue to this day, because we’re a nation of immigrants -- people coming from every different part of the world. But what we’ve learned in the United States is that there are certain principles that are universal, apply to everybody no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what religion you practice. The right of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed or their homes may be burned simply because of who they are or where they come from. Only the people of this country ultimately can define your union, can define what it means to be a citizen of this country. But I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness. Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity. You have to recognize that strength.
  • In many ways, fear is the force that stands between human beings and their dreams. Fear of conflict and the weapons of war. Fear of a future that is different from the past. Fear of changes that are reordering our societies and economy. Fear of people who look different, or come from a different place, or worship in a different way. In some of her darkest moments, when Aung San Suu Kyi was imprisoned, she wrote an essay about freedom from fear. She said fear of losing corrupts those who wield it -- “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” That's the fear that you can leave behind. We see that chance in leaders who are beginning to understand that power comes from appealing to people’s hopes, not people's fears.
  • As one former prisoner put it in speaking to his fellow citizens, “Politics is your job. It’s not only for [the] politicians.” And we have an expression in the United States that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen -- not President, not Speaker, but citizen.
  • You're the ones who are going to have to seize freedom, because a true revolution of the spirit begins in each of our hearts.

Remarks after Sandy Hook killings (December 2012)

As a country, we have been through this too many times.
Televised remarks (14 December 2012)
  • As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
    This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter, and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight, and they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans, and I will do everything in my power as president to help, because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need, to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories, but also in ours.
    May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

Sandy Hook Prayer Vigil (December 2012)

These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this.
There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.
President Obama at Prayer Vigil for Connecticut Shooting Victims: "Newtown, You Are Not Alone" (16 December 2012)
  • We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America.
    Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.
    I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight.
    And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.
  • As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other. You’ve cared for one another. And you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God’s grace, that love will see you through.
    But we as a nation, we are left with some hard questions.
  • It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.
    And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.
    This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
  • Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?
    Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?
    Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?
    I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.
    And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose — much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
    We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this.
    If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.
  • We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way.
    We’ll make mistakes, we’ll experience hardships and even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.
    There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.
    The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger, we know that’s what matters.
    We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

2013

A government [...] recognizes true democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights and the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society.
  • These are our kids. This is what they’re thinking about. And so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything that they’re capable of doing -- not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.
  • This is the land of the free, and it always will be. As Americans, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights that no man or government can take away from us. But we've also long recognized, as our Founders recognized, that with rights come responsibilities. Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same. We don’t live in isolation. We live in a society, a government of, and by, and for the people. We are responsible for each other.
  • There will be a sovereign Palestinian state, a sovereign Jewish state of Israel and those two states can, I think, will be able to deal with each other the same way all states do. I mean, you know, the United States and Canada has arguments once in a while, but they’re not the nature of arguments that can’t be solved diplomatically.
  • Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people -- politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want, they’re not so different from what the young people here want. They want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education, get a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married; to raise a family. The same is true of those young Palestinians that I met with this morning. The same is true for young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza. That's where peace begins -- not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people. Not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections -- that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of Jerusalem.
  • The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight. And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss...We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake - we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.
  • A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies -- including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who's here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers -- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence. Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders -- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn't worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.
  • I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my question is, a victory for who? A victory for what? All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn't make our kids safer. Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent? I've heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. "A prop," somebody called them. "Emotional blackmail," some outlet said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate? So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don't give up on it.
  • Ultimately, peace is just not about politics. It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.
  • Our scientists will keep collaborating with yours in fields like nanotechnology and clean energy and health care that make our lives better and fuel economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic –- because progress is essential to peace. And because knowledge and understanding is essential to peace, we will keep investing in programs that enrich both of us [...].
  • And because no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I am going to keep making the case that we need to raise the minimum wage because it's lower right now than it was when Ronald Reagan took office. It's time for the minimum wage to go up.
  • Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues. And I recognize there are folks on the other side who think that my policies are misguided. That's putting it mildly. That's OK. That's democracy. That's how it works. We can debate those differences vigorously, passionately, in good faith, through the normal democratic process. And sometimes we'll be just too far apart to forge an agreement. But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree. We shouldn't fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don't think it's good politics, just because the extremes in our party don't like the word "compromise." I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done. And there's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.
  • So let's work together to make government work better instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse. That's not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government. You don't like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don't break it.Don't break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That's not being faithful to what this country's about.
  • I’m not a particularly ideological person. There’s things, some values I feel passionately about.
    • At Seattle fundraiser, 24 November 2013.[18]

Second Inaugural Address (January 2013)

Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.
Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.
Peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
If we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
Our journey is not complete until all our children know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Second Inaugural Address, Washington D.C. (21 January 2013)
  • Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.
  • Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune. Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  
  • Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character. But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.
  • This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. [...] America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together. For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
  • We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. 
  • We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
  • We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
  • We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.
  • We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe.  And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
  • That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
  • My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time -- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
  • Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. 

Fifth State of the Union Address (February 2013)

What makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.
America moves forward only when we do so together, and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.
Our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.
Fifth State of the Union Address delivered on February 12, 2013 during a joint session of the United States Congress
  • Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep — but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.
  • It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising, thriving middle class. It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love. It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.
  • The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together, and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.
  • I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform will not be easy. The politics will be hard for both sides. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans. So let’s set party interests aside and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let’s do it without the brinksmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors. The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. We can’t do it. Let’s agree right here, right now to keep the people’s government open, and pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.
  • And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and do more to encourage fatherhood — because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.
  • Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America. It is this kind of prosperity — broad, shared, built on a thriving middle class — that has always been the source of our progress at home. It’s also the foundation of our power and influence throughout the world.
  • At the same time, we’ll engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands — because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.
  • We may do different jobs and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title — we are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story.

Brandenburg Gate Speech (June 2013)

Remarks by President Obama in front of the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz, Berlin, Germany 19 June 2013
We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness.
For all the power of militaries, for all the authority of governments, it is citizens who choose whether to be defined by a wall, or whether to tear it down.
Government exists to serve the power of the individual, and not the other way around.
  • But the fact that we can stand here today, along the fault line where a city was divided, speaks to an eternal truth: No wall can stand against the yearning of justice, the yearnings for freedom, the yearnings for peace that burns in the human heart.
  • Today, 60 years after they rose up against oppression, we remember the East German heroes of June 17th. When the wall finally came down, it was their dreams that were fulfilled. Their strength and their passion, their enduring example remind us that for all the power of militaries, for all the authority of governments, it is citizens who choose whether to be defined by a wall, or whether to tear it down.
  • But I come here today, Berlin, to say complacency is not the character of great nations.
  • I’d suggest that peace with justice begins with the example we set here at home, for we know from our own histories that intolerance breeds injustice. Whether it’s based on race, or religion, gender or sexual orientation, we are stronger when all our people — no matter who they are or what they look like — are granted opportunity, and when our wives and our daughters have the same opportunities as our husbands and our sons.
  • When we respect the faiths practiced in our churches and synagogues, our mosques and our temples, we're more secure. When we welcome the immigrant with his talents or her dreams, we are renewed. When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and treat their love and their rights equally under the law, we defend our own liberty as well. We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness. And as long as walls exist in our hearts to separate us from those who don’t look like us, or think like us, or worship as we do, then we're going to have to work harder, together, to bring those walls of division down.
  • Peace with justice means free enterprise that unleashes the talents and creativity that reside in each of us; in other models, direct economic growth from the top down or relies solely on the resources extracted from the earth. But we believe that real prosperity comes from our most precious resource -- our people.
  • Peace with justice means extending a hand to those who reach for freedom, wherever they live. Different peoples and cultures will follow their own path, but we must reject the lie that those who live in distant places don’t yearn for freedom and self-determination just like we do; that they don’t somehow yearn for dignity and rule of law just like we do. We cannot dictate the pace of change in places like the Arab world, but we must reject the excuse that we can do nothing to support it.
  • Our fates are linked, and we cannot ignore those who are yearning not only for freedom but also prosperity.
  • And finally, let’s remember that peace with justice depends on our ability to sustain both the security of our societies and the openness that defines them. Threats to freedom don’t merely come from the outside. They can emerge from within -- from our own fears, from the disengagement of our citizens.
  • But we must accept the challenge that all of us in democratic governments face: to listen to the voices who disagree with us; to have an open debate about how we use our powers and how we must constrain them; and to always remember that government exists to serve the power of the individual, and not the other way around. That’s what makes us who we are, and that’s what makes us different from those on the other side of the wall.
  • The wall belongs to history. But we have history to make as well. And the heroes that came before us now call to us to live up to those highest ideals -- to care for the young people who can't find a job in our own countries, and the girls who aren't allowed to go to school overseas; to be vigilant in safeguarding our own freedoms, but also to extend a hand to those who are reaching for freedom abroad. This is the lesson of the ages. This is the spirit of Berlin. And the greatest tribute that we can pay to those who came before us is by carrying on their work to pursue peace and justice not only in our countries but for all mankind.

Cape Town University Address (June 2013)

Democracy can only endure when it’s bigger than just one person.
Remarks by President Obama at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa (13 June 2013)
  • I believe that none of us are fully free when others in the human family remain shackled by poverty or disease or oppression.
  • We believe that societies and economies only advance as far as individuals are free to carry them forward. And just as freedom cannot exist when people are imprisoned for their political views, true opportunity cannot exist when people are imprisoned by sickness, or hunger, or darkness.
  • But history tells us that true progress is only possible where governments exist to serve their people, and not the other way around.
  • Now, I mentioned yesterday at the town hall -- like America’s first President, George Washington, he understood that democracy can only endure when it’s bigger than just one person. So his willingness to leave power was as profound as his ability to claim power.
  • And that’s why we support societies that empower women -- because no country will reach its potential unless it draws on the talents of our wives and our mothers, and our sisters and our daughters.
  • We always have the opportunity to choose our better history. We can always understand that most important decision -- the decision we make when we find our common humanity in one another. That’s always available to us, that choice. [...] it can be heard in the confident voices of young people like you. It is that spirit, that innate longing for justice and equality, for freedom and solidarity -- that’s the spirit that can light the way forward. It's in you.

"Let Freedom Ring" Ceremony (August 2013)

We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.
No man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us.
Freedom is not given, it must be won, through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.
The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. [...] This country has changed too much. People of goodwill, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history’s currents.
That’s where courage comes from -- when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That’s where courage comes from.
There’s a reason why so many who marched that day, and in the days to come, were young -- for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is.
Remarks by the President at the "Let Freedom Ring" Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. (August 28, 2013)
  • Five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.]]” In 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise -- those truths -- remained unmet. And so they came by the thousands from every corner of our country, men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others. And so they came by the thousands from every corner of our country, men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others.
  • And then, on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation’s capital, under the shadow of the Great Emancipator -- to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress, and to awaken America’s long-slumbering conscience. We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.
  • But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV. Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters. They lived in towns where they couldn’t vote and cities where their votes didn’t matter. They were couples in love who couldn’t marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten, and children fire-hosed, and they had every reason to lash out in anger, or resign themselves to a bitter fate.

    And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in, with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglass once taught -- that freedom is not given, it must be won, through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.

  • And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, a Civil Rights law was passed. Because they marched, a Voting Rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else’s laundry or shining somebody else’s shoes. Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed, and Congress changed, and, yes, eventually, the White House changed. Because they marched, America became more free and more fair -- not just for African Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability. America changed for you and for me. and the entire world drew strength from that example, whether the young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid.
  • Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought, with each step of their well-worn shoes. That’s the debt that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries; folks who could have run a company maybe if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way, even though they didn't have; those Japanese Americans who recalled their own internment; those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust; people who could have given up and given in, but kept on keeping on, knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
  • On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.
  • To dismiss the magnitude of this progress -- to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. -- they did not die in vain. Their victory was great. But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, it requires vigilance. And we'll suffer the occasional setback. But we will win these fights. This country has changed too much. People of goodwill, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history’s currents.
  • In some ways, though, the securing of civil rights, voting rights, the eradication of legalized discrimination -- the very significance of these victories may have obscured a second goal of the March. For the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract ideal. They were there seeking jobs as well as justice, not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity. For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can’t afford the meal? This idea -- that one’s liberty is linked to one’s livelihood; that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security -- this idea was not new. Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms -- as a promise that in due time, “the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.
  • The test was not, and never has been, whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many -- for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call -- this remains our great unfinished business.
  • We can continue down our current path, in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations; where politics is a zero-sum game where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie -- that’s one path. Or we can have the courage to change.
  • The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history; that we are masters of our fate. But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We’ll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago. And I believe that spirit is there, that truth force inside each of us. I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. It’s there when the native-born recognizing that striving spirit of the new immigrant; when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who are discriminated against and understands it as their own. That’s where courage comes from -- when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That’s where courage comes from.
  • America, I know the road will be long, but I know we can get there. Yes, we will stumble, but I know we’ll get back up. That’s how a movement happens. That’s how history bends. That's how when somebody is faint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we’re marching.
  • There’s a reason why so many who marched that day, and in the days to come, were young -- for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream differently, to imagine something better. And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose stirs in this generation. We might not face the same dangers of 1963, but the fierce urgency of now remains. We may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling procession of that day so long ago -- no one can match King’s brilliance -- but the same flame that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains.
  • Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day -- that change does not come from Washington, but to Washington; that change has always been built on our willingness, We The People, to take on the mantle of citizenship -- you are marching.

    And that’s the lesson of our past. That's the promise of tomorrow -- that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. That when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station, can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed, as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Remarks on Economic Mobility (December 2013)

Success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.
You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you’re against. That way we can have a vigorous and meaningful debate.
Ultimately our strength is grounded in our people -- individuals out there, striving, working, making things happen. It depends on community, a rich and generous sense of community [...]. [...] We know that’s our strength -- our people, our communities, our businesses.
Government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts. Because government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments.

Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility (4 December 2013) at THEARC in Washington, D.C.

  • And your work reflects a tradition that runs through our history -- a belief that we’re greater together than we are on our own. And that’s what I’ve come here to talk about today.
  • Now, the premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in the American story. And while we don’t promise equal outcomes, we have strived to deliver equal opportunity -- the idea that success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit. And with every chapter we’ve added to that story, we’ve worked hard to put those words into practice.
  • So let me repeat: The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe. And it is not simply a moral claim that I’m making here. There are practical consequences to rising inequality and reduced mobility. For one thing, these trends are bad for our economy. One study finds that growth is more fragile and recessions are more frequent in countries with greater inequality. And that makes sense. When families have less to spend, that means businesses have fewer customers, and households rack up greater mortgage and credit card debt; meanwhile, concentrated wealth at the top is less likely to result in the kind of broadly based consumer spending that drives our economy, and together with lax regulation, may contribute to risky speculative bubbles.
  • And rising inequality and declining mobility are also bad for our families and social cohesion -- not just because we tend to trust our institutions less, but studies show we actually tend to trust each other less when there’s greater inequality. And greater inequality is associated with less mobility between generations. That means it’s not just temporary; the effects last. It creates a vicious cycle. For example, by the time she turns three years old, a child born into a low-income home hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a well-off family, which means by the time she starts school she’s already behind, and that deficit can compound itself over time.
  • And finally, rising inequality and declining mobility are bad for our democracy. Ordinary folks can’t write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists and lawyers to secure policies that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else’s expense. And so people get the bad taste that the system is rigged, and that increases cynicism and polarization, and it decreases the political participation that is a requisite part of our system of self-government.
  • It’s true that government cannot prevent all the downsides of the technological change and global competition that are out there right now, and some of those forces are also some of the things that are helping us grow. And it’s also true that some programs in the past, like welfare before it was reformed, were sometimes poorly designed, created disincentives to work. But we’ve also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class. Investments in education, laws establishing collective bargaining, and a minimum wage -- these all contributed to rising standards of living for massive numbers of Americans.
  • It was Adam Smith, the father of free-market economics, who once said, “They who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.” And for those of you who don’t speak old-English let me translate. It means if you work hard, you should make a decent living. If you work hard, you should be able to support a family.
  • I realize we are not going to resolve all of our political debates over the best ways to reduce inequality and increase upward mobility this year, or next year, or in the next five years. But it is important that we have a serious debate about these issues. For the longer that current trends are allowed to continue, the more it will feed the cynicism and fear that many Americans are feeling right now -- that they’ll never be able to repay the debt they took on to go to college, they’ll never be able to save enough to retire, they’ll never see their own children land a good job that supports a family.
  • If you still don’t like Obamacare -- and I know you don’t even though it’s built on market-based ideas of choice and competition in the private sector, then you should explain how, exactly, you’d cut costs, and cover more people, and make insurance more secure. You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you’re against. That way we can have a vigorous and meaningful debate. That’s what the American people deserve. That’s what the times demand. It’s not enough anymore to just say we should just get our government out of the way and let the unfettered market take care of it -- for our experience tells us that’s just not true.
  • Look, I’ve never believed that government can solve every problem or should -- and neither do you. We know that ultimately our strength is grounded in our people -- individuals out there, striving, working, making things happen. It depends on community, a rich and generous sense of community -- that’s at the core of what happens at THEARC here every day. You understand that turning back rising inequality and expanding opportunity requires parents taking responsibility for their kids, kids taking responsibility to work hard. It requires religious leaders who mobilize their congregations to rebuild neighborhoods block by block, requires civic organizations that can help train the unemployed, link them with businesses for the jobs of the future. It requires companies and CEOs to set an example by providing decent wages, and salaries, and benefits for their workers, and a shot for somebody who is down on his or her luck. We know that’s our strength -- our people, our communities, our businesses. But government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts. Because government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments. And if we refocus our energies on building an economy that grows for everybody, and gives every child in this country a fair chance at success, then I remain confident that the future still looks brighter than the past, and that the best days for this country we love are still ahead.

Eulogy of Nelson Mandela (December 2013)

Action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions.'
Reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth.
Remarks by President Obama at Memorial Service for Former South African President Nelson Mandela (10 December 2013) at First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his.
  • Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions.
  • It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth.
  • The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today. And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.
  • The questions we face today -- how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war -- these things do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows that is true. South Africa shows we can change, that we can choose a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.

2014

Review of Signals Intelligence Speech (June 2014)

Liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.
Every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely -- because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress.

Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence (17 June 2014) at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., USA.

  • And yet, in our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats, the risk of government overreach -- the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security -- also became more pronounced. […] intelligence agencies cannot function without secrecy, which makes their work less subject to public debate. Yet there is an inevitable bias not only within the intelligence community, but among all of us who are responsible for national security, to collect more information about the world, not less. So in the absence of institutional requirements for regular debate -- and oversight that is public, as well as private or classified -- the danger of government overreach becomes more acute. And this is particularly true when surveillance technology and our reliance on digital information is evolving much faster than our laws.
  • [T]he combination of increased digital information and powerful supercomputers offers intelligence agencies the possibility of sifting through massive amounts of bulk data to identify patterns or pursue leads that may thwart impending threats. It’s a powerful tool. But the government collection and storage of such bulk data also creates a potential for abuse.
  • I indicated in a speech at the National Defense University last May that we needed a more robust public discussion about the balance between security and liberty. Of course, what I did not know at the time is that within weeks of my speech, an avalanche of unauthorized disclosures would spark controversies at home and abroad that have continued to this day. And given the fact of an open investigation, I’m not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations; I will say that our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy. Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.
  • There was a recognition by all who participated in these reviews that the challenges to our privacy do not come from government alone. Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes; that’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically. But all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higher. Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.
  • What’s at stake in this debate goes far beyond a few months of headlines, or passing tensions in our foreign policy. When you cut through the noise, what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed. Whether it’s the ability of individuals to communicate ideas; to access information that would have once filled every great library in every country in the world; or to forge bonds with people on other sides of the globe, technology is remaking what is possible for individuals, and for institutions, and for the international order. So while the reforms that I have announced will point us in a new direction, I am mindful that more work will be needed in the future. One thing I’m certain of: This debate will make us stronger. And I also know that in this time of change, the United States of America will have to lead. It may seem sometimes that America is being held to a different standard. And I'll admit the readiness of some to assume the worst motives by our government can be frustrating. No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs, or Russia to take privacy concerns of citizens in other places into account. But let’s remember: We are held to a different standard precisely because we have been at the forefront of defending personal privacy and human dignity.
  • As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital revolution works as a tool for individual empowerment, not government control. Having faced down the dangers of totalitarianism and fascism and communism, the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely -- because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress.
  • Those values make us who we are. And because of the strength of our own democracy, we should not shy away from high expectations. For more than two centuries, our Constitution has weathered every type of change because we have been willing to defend it, and because we have been willing to question the actions that have been taken in its defense. Today is no different. I believe we can meet high expectations. Together, let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for.

Sixth State of the Union Address (January 2014)

Citizenship means standing up for everyone's right to vote.[...] It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.
Citizenship demands a sense of common purpose; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.
We counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.
America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.
Sixth State of the Union Address delivered on January 28, 2014 during a joint session of the United States Congress
  • Tonight this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.
  • And in the coming months, let's see where else we can make progress together. Let's make this a year of action. That's what most Americans want, for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all, the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead in America.
  • The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams.
  • This year let's all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.
  • Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they're not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don't resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That's what America's all about. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.
  • That's why tonight I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Help them get covered. Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It'll give her some peace of mind, and plus, she'll appreciate hearing from you. After all, that -- that's the spirit that has always moved this nation forward. It's the spirit of citizenship, the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well.
  • Citizenship means standing up for everyone's right to vote. Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened, but conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it. And the bipartisan commission I appointed, chaired by my campaign lawyer and Governor Romney's campaign lawyer, came together and have offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote. Let's support these efforts. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.
  • Citizenship demands a sense of common purpose; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.
  • For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country. [...] We have to remain vigilant. But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our outstanding military alone. As commander in chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm's way unless it is truly necessary, nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us -- large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism. So even as we actively and aggressively pursue terrorist networks, through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners, America must move off a permanent war footing. That's why I've imposed prudent limits on the use of drones, for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.
  • And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.
  • If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.
  • And finally, let's remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe, to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want. And no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than America. Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. From Tunisia to Burma, we're supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully and to have a say in their country's future. [...] We do these things because they help promote our long-term security. And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation. [...] My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might but because of the ideals we stand for and the burdens we bear to advance them.
  • America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen. The America we want for our kids -- a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us -- none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us [...], with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it's within our reach. Believe it.

Address to European Youth (March 2014)

Through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose.
Our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people -- a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; international law and the means to enforce those laws. But we also know that those rules are not self-executing; they depend on people and nations of goodwill continually affirming them.
No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.
Our democracy, our individual opportunity only exists because those who came before us had the wisdom and the courage to recognize that our ideals will only endure if we see our self-interest in the success of other peoples and other nations.
Do not think for a moment that your own freedom, your own prosperity, that your own moral imagination is bound by the limits of your community, your ethnicity, or even your country. You’re bigger than that. You can help us to choose a better history.
Address to European Youth delivered on March 26, 2014 at Palais des Beaux Arts Brussels, Belgium
  • Throughout human history, societies have grappled with fundamental questions of how to organize themselves, the proper relationship between the individual and the state, the best means to resolve inevitable conflicts between states. And it was here in Europe, through centuries of struggle -- through war and Enlightenment, repression and revolution -- that a particular set of ideals began to emerge: The belief that through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose. The belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding. And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men -- and women -- are created equal. But those ideals have also been tested -- here in Europe and around the world. Those ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power. This alternative vision argues that ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign. Often, this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others, and that individual identity must be defined by “us” versus “them,” or that national greatness must flow not by what a people stand for, but by what they are against. In many ways, the history of Europe in the 20th century represented the ongoing clash of these two sets of ideas, both within nations and among nations. The advance of industry and technology outpaced our ability to resolve our differences peacefully, and even among the most civilized of societies, on the surface we saw a descent into barbarism.
  • This morning at Flanders Field, I was reminded of how war between peoples sent a generation to their deaths in the trenches and gas of the First World War. And just two decades later, extreme nationalism plunged this continent into war once again -- with populations enslaved, and great cities reduced to rubble, and tens of millions slaughtered, including those lost in the Holocaust. It is in response to this tragic history that, in the aftermath of World War II, America joined with Europe to reject the darker forces of the past and build a new architecture of peace. Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan. Sentinels stood vigilant in a NATO Alliance that would become the strongest the world has ever known. And across the Atlantic, we embraced a shared vision of Europe -- a vision based on representative democracy, individual rights, and a belief that nations can meet the interests of their citizens through trade and open markets; a social safety net and respect for those of different faiths and backgrounds.
  • Young people in the audience today, young people like Laura, were born in a place and a time where there is less conflict, more prosperity and more freedom than any time in human history. But that’s not because man’s darkest impulses have vanished. Even here, in Europe, we’ve seen ethnic cleansing in the Balkans that shocked the conscience. The difficulties of integration and globalization, recently amplified by the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, strained the European project and stirred the rise of a politics that too often targets immigrants or gays or those who seem somehow different. While technology has opened up vast opportunities for trade and innovation and cultural understanding, it’s also allowed terrorists to kill on a horrifying scale. Around the world, sectarian warfare and ethnic conflicts continue to claim thousands of lives. And once again, we are confronted with the belief among some that bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way -- that recycled maxim that might somehow makes right. So I come here today to insist that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues for your generation. And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today. Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident -- that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.
  • None of us can know for certain what the coming days will bring in Ukraine, but I am confident that eventually those voices -- those voices for human dignity and opportunity and individual rights and rule of law -- those voices ultimately will triumph. I believe that over the long haul, as nations that are free, as free people, the future is ours. I believe this not because I’m naïve, and I believe this not because of the strength of our arms or the size of our economies, I believe this because these ideals that we affirm are true; these ideals are universal.
  • Yes, we believe in democracy -- with elections that are free and fair; and independent judiciaries and opposition parties; civil society and uncensored information so that individuals can make their own choices. Yes, we believe in open economies based on free markets and innovation, and individual initiative and entrepreneurship, and trade and investment that creates a broader prosperity. And, yes, we believe in human dignity -- that every person is created equal, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or who you love, or where you come from. That is what we believe. That’s what makes us strong. And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people -- a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; international law and the means to enforce those laws. But we also know that those rules are not self-executing; they depend on people and nations of goodwill continually affirming them.
  • Of course, neither the United States nor Europe are perfect in adherence to our ideals, nor do we claim to be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong in the world. We are human, after all, and we face difficult choices about how to exercise our power. But part of what makes us different is that we welcome criticism, just as we welcome the responsibilities that come with global leadership.
  • No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.
  • There will always be voices who say that what happens in the wider world is not our concern, nor our responsibility. But we must never forget that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. Our democracy, our individual opportunity only exists because those who came before us had the wisdom and the courage to recognize that our ideals will only endure if we see our self-interest in the success of other peoples and other nations.
  • And it is you, the young people of Europe, young people like Laura, who will help decide which way the currents of our history will flow. Do not think for a moment that your own freedom, your own prosperity, that your own moral imagination is bound by the limits of your community, your ethnicity, or even your country. You’re bigger than that. You can help us to choose a better history. That’s what Europe tells us. That’s what the American experience is all about.
  • In the end, the success of our ideals comes down to us -- including the example of our own lives, our own societies. We know that there will always be intolerance. But instead of fearing the immigrant, we can welcome him. We can insist on policies that benefit the many, not just the few; that an age of globalization and dizzying change opens the door of opportunity to the marginalized, and not just a privileged few. Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights. Instead of defining ourselves in opposition to others, we can affirm the aspirations that we hold in common. That’s what will make America strong. That’s what will make Europe strong. That’s what makes us who we are. And just as we meet our responsibilities as individuals, we must be prepared to meet them as nations. Because we live in a world in which our ideals are going to be challenged again and again by forces that would drag us back into conflict or corruption. We can’t count on others to rise to meet those tests.
  • And that’s the question we all must answer -- what kind of Europe, what kind of America, what kind of world will we leave behind. And I believe that if we hold firm to our principles, and are willing to back our beliefs with courage and resolve, then hope will ultimately overcome fear, and freedom will continue to triumph over tyranny -- because that is what forever stirs in the human heart.


Misattributed

  • We are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists.
    • Misquoted in similar letters to the editor to the San Angelo Standard-Times, 2008-07-29 and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 2008-07-29, and many identical posts under different names to various online news sites, quoted in "Obama and the “Christian Nation” Quote", Factcheck.org, 26 August 2008 
    • President Obama actually said, in his keynote address to Sojourners magazine's "Call to Renewal" conference on 2006-06-28 (see above), "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation — at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."
  • I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race.
    • Circulated in "A Coil of Rage", a 2011 mass e-mail attributing several fabricated quotations to Obama.
    • Originally a statement about Obama by Steve Sailer from "Obama's Identity Crisis", The American Conservative (2007-03-06), recast into first-person as if said by Obama:
      • And yet, at least through age 33 when he wrote Dreams from My Father, he found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mother's race.
  • I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.
    • Circulated in "A Coil of Rage", a 2011 mass e-mail attributing several fabricated quotations to Obama.
    • Obama actually wrote, in Dreams from My Father, p. 220:
      • Yes, I'd seen weakness in other men — Gramps and his disappointments, Lolo [my adoptive father] and his compromise. But these men had become object lessons for me, men I might love but never emulate, white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.
  • I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
    • Circulated in "A Coil of Rage", a 2011 mass e-mail attributing several fabricated quotations to Obama.
    • Obama actually wrote, in The Audacity of Hope, p. 261:
      • In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction
  • If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. If you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen.
    • Misquoted by Mitt Romney "These Hands" campaign ad (2012-07-19)
    • The Web version of the ad uses a longer misquote: "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, "well, it must be because I was just so smart." There are a lot of smart people out there. "It must be because I worked harder than everybody else." Let me tell you something — if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
    • Splices two parts of a speech in Roanoke, Virginia on 2012-07-13 (see above). Full quote:
      • There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn't — look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, "well, it must be because I was just so smart." There are a lot of smart people out there. "It must be because I worked harder than everybody else." Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

        If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges; if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

About Barack Obama

Alphabetized by author
I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man. ~ Joe Biden
People don't come to Obama for what he's done in the Senate. They come because of what they hope he could be. ~ Bruce Reed
Barack Obama has failed America.[...] It breaks my heart to see what's happening in this country. These failing hopes make up President Obama's own misery index. It's never been higher. ~ Mitt Romney
Obama's legislative record, speeches, and the way he has run his campaign reveal, I think, a very even temperament, a very sound judgment, and an intelligent pragmatism. ~ Andrew Sullivan
It felt like a new day. ~ Oprah Winfrey
  • Obama wants to rule the world, but he can't even control his own emotions, he doesn't even know how to spell his own name properly.
  • I am reminded of the phrase the audacity of hope. Who can say that the president of the United States is not audacious? Was it not audacious for him to say on Tuesday that the United States supported the forces of change in the Arab Spring?
  • Tunisian history did not begin in December 2010. And Mohamed Bouazizi did not set himself on fire so Barack Obama could be re-elected. His death was an emblem of the despair he had to endure under the Ben Ali regime. The world knew after reading WikiLeaks publications that Ben Ali and his government had long enjoyed the indifference, if not the support, of the United States in full knowledge of its excesses and its crimes.
  • Americans still admire dignity. But the word has become unmoored from any larger set of rules or ethical system.
    But it’s not right to end on a note of cultural pessimism because there is the fact of President Obama. Whatever policy differences people may have with him, we can all agree that he exemplifies reticence, dispassion and the other traits associated with dignity. The cultural effects of his presidency are not yet clear, but they may surpass his policy impact. He may revitalize the concept of dignity for a new generation and embody a new set of rules for self-mastery.
  • I think that Obama doesn’t like his job, actually. I think that he is genuinely of a professorial disposition in the sense that I think that he’s interested in chewing over the pros and cons, and he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like power and he doesn’t know how to exercise power. And I think knowing how to exercise power is absolutely crucial. He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done. And that kind of gap has just widened and widened and widened.
  • In 2008, many of Barack Obama’s supporters thought they might be electing another John F. Kennedy. But his recent maneuvers increasingly suggest that they selected another Dwight Eisenhower.
    That’s not a comment on President Obama’s effectiveness or ideology, but rather on his conception of presidential leadership. Whether he is confronting the turmoil reshaping the Middle East or the escalating budget wars in Washington, Obama most often uses a common set of strategies to pursue his goals. Those strategies have less in common with Kennedy’s inspirational, public-oriented leadership than with the muted, indirect, and targeted Eisenhower model that political scientist Fred Greenstein memorably described as a “hidden hand” presidency.
    This approach has allowed Obama to achieve many of his domestic and international aims — from passing the health reform legislation that marked its stormy first anniversary this week to encouraging Egypt’s peaceful transfer of power. But, like it did for Eisenhower, this style has exposed Obama to charges of passivity, indecisiveness, and leading from behind. The pattern has left even some of his supporters uncertain whether he is shrewd — or timid.
    On most issues, Obama has consciously chosen not to make himself the fulcrum. He has identified broad goals but has generally allowed others to take the public lead, waited until the debate has substantially coalesced, and only then announced a clear, visible stand meant to solidify consensus. He appears to believe he can most often exert maximum leverage toward the end of any process — an implicit rejection of the belief that a president’s greatest asset is his ability to define the choices for the country (and the world).
    To the extent that Obama shapes processes along the way, he tends to do so offstage rather than in public. Throughout, he has shown an unswerving resistance to absolutist public pronouncements and grand theories.
  • President Obama is so much smarter and a better communicator than members of Congress in either party. The contrast, side by side, is almost ridiculous.
  • Mr. Obama decided to attack us, Now you want to win votes by attacking Venezuela. Don't be irresponsible. You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace … Go after your votes by fulfilling that which you promised your people.
    • Hugo Chavez's response to Obama after he criticized Venezuela’s ties with Iran and Cuba [22].
  • I can't think of a time when I felt it was more important for us to defeat an incumbent president today with respect to Barack Obama. I think he has been an unmitigated disaster to the country.
    • Former Vice President Dick Cheney, Wyoming Republican Party state convention, 2012-04-15. [23].
  • A gift for reading from a teleprompter is not the same as leadership.
  • I know when you look at Washington right now, you shake your head at a president who can’t figure out how to lead, at a Congress that only 11 percent of the people in the last poll I saw approve of the job they’re doing. That’s what happens when you have someone in the executive office who is more concerned about being right than he is concerned about getting things done
  • So when black Americans refer to Obama as "one of us," I do not know what they are talking about. In his new book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama makes it clear that, while he has experienced some light versions of typical racial stereotypes, he cannot claim those problems as his own — nor has he lived the life of a black American.
  • Barack Obama has way way way overdone religion. He's trying to overcome the false notion that he has some sort of sympathy with Islam, and therefore he is more Christian than the Christians.
  • President Barack Obama loves to quote the lyrical closing lines of Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, calling on “the better angels of our nature” to overcome partisan hatreds and political divisions. Obama cited those words in his own inaugural proclamation and rested his hand on Lincoln’s Bible when he took the oath of office. He has come back to those angels again and again ever since. … He used the phrase to eulogize Ted Kennedy, to chide a would-be Quran burner in Florida, and to say goodbye to chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Obama, it seems, sees better angels just about everywhere. Even as he traveled in India this week he talked about his efforts to live up to the example of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and, yes, Abraham Lincoln.
    But in light of today's real-world politics, Obama should think a little harder about the context in which Lincoln summoned those better angels on March 4, 1861. Led by South Carolina (now home to Sen. Jim DeMint, seven of 33 states had already seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy at that point. … If, in the end, Lincoln did manage to hold the Union together, it was not because of the better angels of human nature, but because he finally found the killer angels among his generals who could, and did, and at enormous cost, crush the secessionists.
  • Lincoln had an ally then of a kind that Obama could use now. Lincoln's old rival from Illinois, Stephen Douglas, whose party had been split by the fire-eaters and whom Lincoln defeated at the polls, became a wise and vital friend. In the months between the inauguration and Douglas’s early death in June 1861, the “little giant,” as he was known, spent many long hours talking to Lincoln about how best to preserve the Union—and compromise wasn’t part of the picture. … “You do not know the dishonest purposes of those men as I do,” he told Lincoln.
    What both of those great politicians understood by then was that there may be better angels in the nature of some people, but there are others who are willing to weaken, even destroy a nation to serve their own self-righteous self-interest, and they will do it in the name of the Constitution. If Obama hasn’t learned that yet, perhaps it’s time he did.
    • Christopher Dickey, in "Better Angels and Killer Angels" in Newsweek (10 November 2010).
  • Our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.
  • See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be president, anyway. I think attorneys are so busy — you know they're always taught to argue everything, always weigh everything, weigh both sides. They are always devil's advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time — what do you think — for maybe a businessman. How about that? A stellar businessman. Quote, unquote, "a stellar businessman". And I think it's that time. And I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over. You can maybe still use a plane.
  • In stark contrast, President Obama has failed to advance policies that promote economic and job growth, focusing instead on increasing the size and scope of the federal government, which increases the debt, requires large tax increases, and burdens business with many new financial and health care regulations. The result is an anemic economic recovery and high unemployment. His future plans are to double down on the failed policies, which will only prolong slow growth and high unemployment.
  • Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits. The voters now face a stark choice. They can let Barack Obama’s rambling, solipsistic narrative continue until they find themselves living in some American version of Europe, with low growth, high unemployment, even higher debt—and real geopolitical decline. Or they can opt for real change: the kind of change that will end four years of economic underperformance, stop the terrifying accumulation of debt, and reestablish a secure fiscal foundation for American national security.
  • On the ground of the fight against international terrorism, we'll see Obama being put to the test, because this is the real one. America is the reference democracy for those who want to affirm the value of freedom, put at risk by fundamentalism and islamic terrorism. There are many doubts pending on Obama; with Obama at the White House, perhaps Al Qaeda is happier.
  • Original Italian: Sul piano della lotta al terrorismo internazionale, dovremo vedere Obama alla prova, perché questo è il vero banco di prova. L'America è la democrazia di riferimento per quanti vogliano affermare i valori della libertà, minacciati dal fondamentalismo, dal terrorismo islamico. Su Obama gravano molti interrogativi; con Obama alla Casa Bianca Al Qaeda forse è più contenta.
  • You want to be a country that creates food stamps? In which case, frankly, Obama is an enormous success—the most successful food stamp president in American history. Or do you want to be a country that creates jobs? I would like to be the most successful paycheck president in American history.
  • I think the problem Barack Obama would have is, first of all, he's never run a city, never run a state, never run a business. I don't think, at a time when America's at war, with the major problems that we face, we're going to want someone to get on-the-job experience as the chief executive, never having had that kind of experience. [...] He really doesn't have the experience either from the national security point of view or even from just the executive point of view.
  • In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, "Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are." With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.
    And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah — one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend — it won’t survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term one.
    The dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is poised to enter a new phase. Next week, Israeli voters will probably return Netanyahu to power, this time at the head of a coalition even more intractably right-wing than the one he currently leads.
  • I don't know where his vendetta comes from but we're not going to let him make his bones by lambasting Las Vegas, that's why [the press] is here today . He didn't learn his lesson the first time, but when he hurt our economy by his ill conceived rhetoric, we didn't think it would happen again, but now that it has I want to assure you, when he comes I'll do everything I can to give him the boot back to Washington and to visit his failures back there. I gotta tell you this, everybody says I shouldn't say it, but I gotta tell you the way it is. This president is a real slow learner.
    • Oscar Goodman, Mayor of Las Vegas, in response to Obama's 2010-02-03 comment in Nashua, NH, "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."[27][28]
  • Barack Obama loves to get attached from the Left on being too moderate on the War on Terrorism. And there have been other things, too, where he's tried to make signals to the middle, saying, “I'm a free trader,” and saying he might cut corporate taxes, saying he might delay some of those tax increases on the wealthy. All of that is aimed on telling swing voters: You cannot put Obama in a far left box or paint him as a rigid ideologue. That shows the difficulty John McCain is going to have making that argument that Steve Schmidt offered — making it stick.
    • John Harwood of The New York Times, on the McCain attempt to paint Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate; June 26, 2008; [29]
  • With health reform and the so-called “public option” reportedly on life support (although some activists strongly disagree with that prognosis), and the increasingly unpopular Afghanistan war on the verge of yet another escalation, many progressives and Democrats are frustrated, angry, or simply scratching their heads in disbelief. The Obama they thought they elected is not meeting their expectations.
  • I wanted to write a book that would persuade people NOT to vote for President Obama and I knew it had to be fact-based. I made a very long list of all the promises President Obama made, all of the PREDICTIONS he put forward, and all of the polemics he used. Each chapter of the 25 chapters begins with a quotation or series of quotations from President Obama not earlier than 2007. I'm not interested in what he did as a young man. I'm not interested in his biography. I'm interested in what he promised to do as a candidate or as a President - what he predicted would happen as a result of his actions or the language he used as a candidate or President. And, when I think you stack it up HE DID NOT DELIVER. In fact, he is a SERIAL FAILURE when it comes to delivering on his promises. Therefore, I don't believe he is OWED your vote or anyone's vote based upon what he said he would do and DID NOT DO - based on what he predicted would happen and did not happen - based upon what was, in fact, the most hyper partisan set of rhetorical devices that we have seen in the modern presidency.
  • Unjustified war and unconstitutional abridgment of individual rights, versus ill-conceived tax and economic policies — this is the difference between venial and mortal sins. John McCain would continue the Bush administration's commitment to interventionism and constitutional over-reach. Obama promises a humbler engagement with our allies, while promising retaliation against any enemy who dares attack us. ... Based on his embrace of centrist advisers and policies, it seems likely that Obama will turn out to be in the mold of John Kennedy, who was fond of noting that "a rising tide lifts all boats." ... Even if my hopes on domestic policy are dashed and Obama reveals himself as an unreconstructed, dyed-in-the-wool, big government liberal, I'm still voting for him.
  • Indeed, Barack Obama has exceptional qualities and deserves kudos for his achievement. He is genteel, articulate, poised and charming. He is a Harvard-educated lawyer, yet he remains accessible to the common man. He has been married since 1992, has two lovely daughters and is by all accounts a devoted family man. He is a pious Christian and a member of the United Church of Christ. He has virtually sky-rocketed into the national spotlight-winning a landslide victory in his Senate race in 2004; he became the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the only current African American Senator. His fame has been enhanced by the publication of two-bestsellers, Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). He now trails only behind Hillary in his bid to secure the nomination of his party. And he has done all of this even before he celebrates his forty-sixth birthday later this summer.
  • I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. [...] He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. [...] So, what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. [...] He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do. He would never be satisfied with what ordinary people do.
  • I don't know how you can take a vote out of context. It's a vote.
    • Late-term abortion survivor Gianna Jessen, responding to an Obama campaign ad saying his votes against the Born Alive Infant Act were presented out of context by the McCain campaign. (2008-09-22)[31]
  • He reminds me of a chess grandmaster who has played his opening in six simultaneous games. But he hasn’t completed a single game and I’d like to see him finish one.
  • [Obama] once got in trouble for making faces during Koran study classes in his elementary school, but a president is less likely to stereotype Muslims as fanatics — and more likely to be aware of their nationalism — if he once studied the Koran with them.
  • What [Obama] is talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work. So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, "Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails."
    • Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show four days before Barack Obama's inauguration [33] (2009-01-16).
  • Active duty military personnel cannot speak out against deplorable practices of the executive branch of The United States of America. However, veterans, friends, and former intelligence operatives of America can speak out on their behalf. They are doing so now. President Obama also gave an oath to protect the Constitution of The United States of America. It is obvious that by consistently allowing senior White House officials to leak methods of operations and other classified secrets for political gain, Mr. Obama is no longer fit to be Commander in Chief. For he alone has reduced his standing to pedantic politician. His motives are purely political now. A true leader gives all the credit to those he or she leads. A true leader takes full responsibility for his failures under his charge. President Obama has done neither of these. President Obama is not a leader and never has been a leader in the classic definition of that word.
  • Senator Obama made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. It seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.
  • Three years ago, the people of the United States elected someone who has turned out to be the worst president since the pre-Civil War era. Barack Obama, whether in economic matters, domestic affairs or international relations, has been an abject failure and has severely jeopardized the future of the American people. A cursory examination of Obama's overall record compared with other presidents reveals someone driven purely by statist ideology, whose narcissism renders him incapable of change regardless of the long-term consequences. He does not seem to care what happens to the American people.
  • [Obama was] really everything the American public would expect from their national leadership. The President was at all times presidential. I would contend he was the smartest guy in the room. He had leadership skills we'd expect from a guy who had 35 years in the military.
  • [Obama is] rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.
  • There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American.
  • Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
    For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."
  • Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.
    • The New York Times editorial President Obama’s Dragnet, June 6, 2013 regarding the electronic surveillance program PRISM run by the US National Security Agency
  • That is why when I heard Obama’s two speeches I was struck by how much he spoke in accord with the spirit of Vatican II. In those two addresses, as well as in his other speeches, he called for civility, for the end of name-calling, and for a willingness to work together to deal with our common problems, including abortion, rather than a stand-off determination to impose one’s principles without reckoning what the cost to the common good might be.
    • John W. O'Malley, America: the national Catholic weekly, May 25, 2009 [38]
  • Barack Obama is hell-bent on engaging the Iranian regime just to prove that he’s not George Bush. That doesn’t help the problem. That’s not what people expected in Iran... The people of Iran are asking for help, and Obama cares about showing Khamenei that he can reason with him. That was Jimmy Carter’s mentality in 1979 and that’s still the mentality in 2012.
  • This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot — what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger.
  • By contrast, Obama’s appeal for a new paradigm that relies on the enthusiasm of young voters and the patriotism of rank-and-file Americans to leap past the stale politics of the Clinton and Bush years makes some sense. Given Obama’s relatively thin résumé, his candidacy may require a leap of faith. But it is at least a leap toward something new and untested, rather than something old and failed.
  • Barack spoke out against the war [in Iraq] before it started, and he respects civil liberties, and I respect him for that. [...] But Barack Obama is not going to talk about the goal of getting rid of the income tax and dealing with monetary policy. I mean, he's too much into the welfare state issue, not quite understanding how free market economics is the truly compassionate system. If we care about the poor and want to help the poor, you have to have free markets. You can't have a welfare state in order to try to take care of people.
  • He has been […] open, practically apolitical, certainly nonpartisan, in terms of welcoming every idea and solution. I think that’s one of the reasons the Republicans want to take him down politically, because they know he is a nonpartisan president, and that’s something very hard for them to cope with.
  • I am strongly encouraged by Senator Obama's speech [41] on America's energy future. Foreign oil is killing our economy and putting our nation at risk. ... This issue is clearly moving up in the priority of political debate; Senator Obama's statement is an indication that is what is indeed happening.
  • Barack Obama has failed America. When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse. And he made it last longer. Three years later, over 16 million Americans are out of work or have just quit looking. Millions more are underemployed. Three years later, unemployment is still above 8%, a figure he said his stimulus would keep from happening. Three years later, foreclosures are still at record levels. Three years later the prices of homes continue to fall. Three years later, our national debt has grown nearly as large as our entire economy. Families are buried under higher prices for food and higher prices for gasoline. It breaks my heart to see what's happening in this country. These failing hopes make up President Obama's own misery index. It's never been higher.
  • I was most forcefully struck by this sentence: “As president, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests.”
    That is perhaps the most starkly expressed realist sentiment that I can remember hearing from a president since … well, I’m honestly not sure when. And Obama then followed it up by citing Eisenhower, who was really the last president to worry publicly about the balance between our commitments abroad and our ability to pay for them.
  • If Barack Obama was a state he'd be California. I mean, think about it: diverse, open, smart, independent, oppose tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader.
  • This isn't just some phenomenon of the Internet — to liken Barack Obama to the flash-in-the-pan Dean campaign does him a disservice. There is something happening with this guy, and I don't think he should be given short shrift.
  • It is February 27, 2013. Barack Obama, having been safely reelected, awakens one morning to news that Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt, and elsewhere are rioting and storming U.S. embassies, tearing down the American flag and raising the black flag of jihad. They're in a rage over a book that depicts Muhammad as waging war against his enemies, consummating a marriage with a nine-year-old girl when in his fifties, and raining down curses upon Jews, Christians, and others. A grim-faced Obama immediately takes to the airwaves. [...] On the grounds that they're promoting "Islamophobia," feminists who speak out against the forced head coverings and brutalization are swiftly arrested and prosecuted. Other Sharia demands follow. Pork and alcohol products disappear from grocery shelves. New laws are enacted that restrict the movements, educational opportunities, and employment opportunities of women. All the new laws are sold as preventing hatred against Muslims. No one dares speak out.
  • Obama's legislative record, speeches, and the way he has run his campaign reveal, I think, a very even temperament, a very sound judgment, and an intelligent pragmatism. Prudence is a word that is not inappropriate to him.
  • Donald Trump: Meredith, he spent two million dollars in legal fees trying to get away from this issue. And if he weren't lying, why wouldn't he just solve it? And I wish he would, because if he doesn't, it's one of the greatest scams in the history of politics, and in the history period. You are not allowed to be a president if you're not born in this country. He may not be born in this country. And I'll tell you what, three weeks ago I thought he was born in this country. Right now, I have some real doubts. I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding.
    Meredith Vieira: You have people now, down there searching—
    Trump: Absolutely.
    Vieira: I mean, in Hawaii?
    Trump: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they're finding. I would like to have him show his birth certificate, and can I be honest with you, I hope he can. Because if he can't, if he can't, if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility, I'm not saying it hap— I'm saying it's a real possibility, much greater than I thought two or three weeks ago, then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics. And beyond politics.
  • As Jews, we really care about what's in your kishkas. We want to look into someone's heart and know where they stand and that they stand with us. And I've looked into Barack Obama's heart and his kishkas. I know that he feels the issues that are important to us. I've seen what's in his kishkas, and I know that this is a mensch that we have in the White House.
  • I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men. It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening. [..] He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want. He’s got two homes. He has got his family and whatever challenges go on there, and this other home. Larry Summers blows his mind because he’s so smart. He’s got Establishment connections. He’s embracing me. It is this smartness, this truncated brilliance, that titillates and stimulates brother Barack and makes him feel at home.
  • He’s luckier than a dog with two dicks.
    • Bill Clinton, on Obama's 2012 re-election chances, quoted in "The Intervention", The New Yorker, "Clinton trotted out for his pals the same line again and again..." 
  • It felt like a new day.
    • Oprah Winfrey on Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic convention, in "Man of the Moment" at Oprah.com (19 January 2005).

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