Full Text Obama Presidency April 3, 2014: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at Team USA’s Visit – 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and the First Lady at Visit of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

Source: WH, 4-3-14 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an event to welcome United States teams and delegations from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi to the East Room of the White House, April 3, 2014.President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an event to welcome United States teams and delegations from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi to the East Room of the White House, April 3, 2014. First Lady Michelle Obama, Jon Lujan, Paralympic Alpine skier and Marine veteran, and Julie Chu, Olympic ice hockey player, share the stage with the President. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Watch the Video

East Room

2:55 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Hey, everybody.  (Laughter.)  Welcome to the White House!  (Applause.)  I know you guys have been standing for a while, but you’re athletes, you can handle it.  (Laughter.)

We are so excited to have Team USA here with us today.  But before we begin, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the Fort Hood community that, as many of you know, has experienced yet another devastating tragedy.  And we just want to make sure that folks there know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who lost loved ones and friends, as well as those that were injured.

Because I know that many of the athletes here today are veterans themselves, and when something like this happens, it touches all of us.  I know that the President and I are just torn apart when things like this happen.  So today, as we celebrate the Olympic spirit, we remember that the same spirit — the spirit of hard work and team work — is shared by our military men and women, and we stand with them today and every day.

So, now, let’s get into the you-guys thing.  (Laughter.)  After watching you guys all over TV all these couple of months, I have to say that I am truly amazed.  I shared some of this with you guys in the receiving line.  You all are so talented.  You’re dedicated, and honestly, sometimes I don’t know how you do it.  I really don’t.

I’ve watched you guys do some of the craziest stuff.  That’s the thing with the Winter Olympics.  You guys do crazy things — careening down the face of mountains — craziness.  (Laughter.)  Throwing each other up in the air, it’s like — the mixed-pair skaters, the women, they’re teeny.  The big guys take them and throw them, just throw them across the ice.  I’m like, are you kidding me?  (Laughter.)  You threw her so hard and she lands on one foot on a blade.  And those of you jumping on those cookie sheet things and just sliding down a mountain — (laughter) — 80 miles an hour — I mean, who thinks of that?  (Laughter.)

So I am really in awe of everything you do, as so many people here in America and across the globe are.  Again and again, you all showed us that being an Olympian is about heart; it’s about guts; and it’s about giving it your all no matter what stands in your way.  And that’s a message that I try to convey to young people all the time — the idea that if you work hard and commit yourselves to a goal, and then pick yourself up when you fall, that there is nothing that you can’t achieve.

And as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, you also know that a big part of reaching your full potential is making sure that you’re putting the right fuel in your body.  You all know that better than anyone in this country, that what you eat absolutely makes a difference in how you perform.

And that’s another message that I try to spread to our young people, the importance of healthy eating and staying active.  So I want to thank all of you who taped a video for our Let’s Move campaign earlier today.  Thank you so much for making that happen.  And I want to give a special thank you to the USOC for their work to give over 2 million young people opportunities to get active in their communities.  We are so grateful for that, work, and we’re grateful for the example you all set for our young people.

In so many different ways, you all are inspiring folks across the country not just every four years but every single day.  And nowhere have I seen that more clearly than in the story of someone that I met here at the White House four years ago under far different circumstances.

Lt. Commander Dan Cnossen was seated next to me at a dinner with leaders of our military.  And I just got to see Dan, and we were remarking — because we were in the Dip Room, the same room we had dinner in together, but just a few months earlier, Dan had been in Afghanistan.  He was leading a platoon of Navy SEALs when he stepped on an IED.  Dan lost both of his legs in the explosion, but he never lost that fighting spirit.

I will always remember Dan, because just four months after that explosion, he finished a half marathon in a wheelchair — four months after the explosion.  On the one-year anniversary of his injury, he ran a mile on his prosthetics.  Over the next few years, Dan stayed on active duty while in the Navy, earning medals in swimming and running events at the Warrior Games, and completing the New York City Marathon.

And today, four and a half years after his injury, Dan is proud to wear another one of our nation’s uniforms, and that is of Team USA.  (Applause.)  There’s Dan.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dan is in the back there.

MRS. OBAMA:  Dan is in the back.

THE PRESIDENT:  Wave again, Dan.  There’s Dan.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  And I also got to meet Dan’s sister, who stayed by his side every single minute of his recovery and she was an important part of that recovery.  And she’s a terrific woman, a nurse herself.  And I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.

In Sochi, Dan inspired us all again by competing in the 15K biathlon and the 1 kilometer sitting cross-country spring.  So Dan has come a long way in the four years that we met, and I know that his story and the stories of all our Olympians and Paralympians are nowhere near finished.

So keep it up.  This is only the beginning.  Many of you were here four years ago, and you told us you’d be back — and you’re back.  So I know you’re already getting ready for that next four years.  But in the meantime, we look forward to all that you’re going to do in this country and around the world to keep inspiring particularly young people to just live a little more like you all live and to show them that spirit of persistence.

So thank you all, again, for everything that you do.  And I can’t wait to hear about everything that you will do in the years to come.

And with that, I’m going to turn it over to this guy next to me — (laughter) — who happens to be my husband, but, more importantly, is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s, first of all, be clear:  It is more important that I’m Michelle’s husband than that I’m President of the United States.  (Laughter and applause.)  I just want you to — I don’t want anybody to be confused.  Many of you young people out there aren’t married yet, so I just want you to know — giving you some tips in terms of how to prioritize.  (Laughter.)

Obviously, as Michelle mentioned, our thoughts right now in many ways are with the families at Fort Hood.  These are folks who make such extraordinary sacrifices for us each and every day for our freedom.  During the course of a decade of war, many of them have been on multiple tours of duty.  To see unspeakable, senseless violence happen in a place where they’re supposed to feel safe, home base, is tragic.  And obviously this is the second time that the Fort Hood community has been affected this way.

So we join that entire community in honoring those who lost their lives.  Every single one of them was an American patriot.  We stand with their families and their loved ones as they grieve. We are thinking about those who are wounded.  We’re there to support them.

And as we learn more about what happened and why, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to keep our troops safe and to keep our troops strong, not just on the battlefield but also when they come home.  They’ve done their duty, and they’re an inspiration.  They’ve made us proud.  They put on the uniform and then they take care of us, and we’ve got to make sure that when they come home we take care of them.

And that spirit of unity is what brings us here today — because we could not be prouder of Team USA.  (Applause.)  Team USA.  I hope all of you made yourself at home.  We double-checked to make sure that all the bathroom locks were working in case Johnny Quinn — (laughter) — tried to bust down one of these antique doors.  We didn’t want that to happen.  (Laughter.)

I want to recognize the members of Congress we have here with us, as well as Scott Blackmun and Larry Probst from the USOC, our fantastic delegations that represent the diversity and the values of our country so well.  But most of all, we’re here just to celebrate all of you — our Olympians and Paralympians who brought home a total of 46 medals for the Red, White and Blue.  (Applause.)

I understand that freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy also brought home a few stray dogs that he adopted.  (Laughter.)  That doesn’t count in the medal standings, but it tells you something about the freestyle skiers.  (Applause.)

Over the past couple of months, we saw some dominating performances by Team USA.  American women won more medals in the Olympics than women of any other nation.  (Applause.)  Way to go, women!  (Applause.)  Good job.  The men swept the podium in slopestyle skiing and Paralympic snowboarding.  (Applause.)  There you go.  Our women’s hockey team brought home the silver.  (Applause.)  Our men’s hockey team played a game for the ages with an epic shootout victory over the Russians.  (Applause.)

I would personally like to thank all of our snowboarders and freestyle skiers for making newscasters across America say things like “air to fakie,” and the “back-to-back double cork 1260.”  (Laughter.)  I don’t know what that means, really, but I just wanted to say it.  (Laughter.)  I’m pretty sure I’m the first President to ever say that.  (Applause.)  I’m pretty sure that’s true.  The back-to-back double cork 1260.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  It feels good.

THE PRESIDENT:  Does it feel good?  (Laughter.)

In Sochi, these athletes made plenty of history.  You had 16-year-old Declan Farmer scoring three goals to help our sled hockey team become the first nation ever to win back-to-back gold medals.  (Applause.)  Hey!  There he is.  There he is.  Hey!  (Applause.)

Our men’s bobsled team became the first Americans in 62 years to medal in both the two-man and the four-man competition. (Applause.)  Bobsledders — those are some tough guys, those bobsledders.  Don’t mess with them.  (Laughter.)

And then, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympian ever to win gold in the slalom, at just 18 years old.  (Applause.)  Where’s Mikaela?  She’s back here somewhere.  Wave a little bit. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  She’s a little — she’s down low.

THE PRESIDENT:  She’s down low.  There she is.  I knew she was here.  I saw her.  (Laughter.)  Afterwards, she said she wants to win five gold in 2018.  I do have to say, though, Mikaela, as somebody who was once told “you’re young but you should set your sights high,” I just got three words of advice:  Go for it.  (Applause.)  We are confident you are going to be bringing back some more gold.

Thanks to years of lobbying from Team USA, women’s ski jumping was added as an Olympic sport, and they did outstanding. (Applause.)  So women can fly just like men.  Jessica Jerome said, “We have arrived.  We are good at what we do.  And we are a lot prettier than the boy jumpers.”  (Laughter.)  Which I can attest to — I’ve seen them.  (Laughter.)  She wasn’t lying.

So from our ski jumpers who fought for equality to the athletes and coaches who have served our country in uniform, like Dan, who we’re so proud of, these athletes all send a message that resonates far beyond the Olympic Village.  And that’s always been the power of the Olympics — in going for the gold and pushing yourselves to be the best, you inspire the rest of us to try to, if not be the best, at least be a little better.

MRS. OBAMA:  Get off the couch.

THE PRESIDENT:  Just get off the couch.  (Laughter.)  That’s what Michelle said.

All of you remind us, just like the Olympic creed states, the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight.  And I want to take the example of somebody who couldn’t be here today, but her story I think is typical of so many of yours.  And this is Noelle Pikus-Pace.  Noelle was hoping to be here, but she’s been on the road a lot, wanted to get back to her husband and her kids — and they may be watching us now.

But almost a decade ago, Noelle was on top of the world after winning the women’s skeleton World Cup.  She was injured in a freak accident that cost her chances in 2006.  In 2010, she missed the podium by one-tenth of a second.  And after all of those Olympics, she retired to spend more time with her family.  But then two years, ago her husband convinced her to go back on that sled, because raising a family and racing down the track don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

So since then, Noelle, her husband, her two young children traveled from competition to competition, living out of suitcases, seeing the world together.  And in Sochi, it all paid off, and she took home the silver in the skeleton — jumping over the wall to celebrate with her family on the final run.  And here’s what Noelle said afterwards:  “Life is never going to go as planned.  You have to decide, when you’re bumped off course, if it’s going to hold you back or move you forward.”

That’s the spirit we celebrate today.  That’s something Dan understands.  That’s something that all of you at some stages in your life have understood or will understand.  Things aren’t always going to go perfect — and Michelle and I always remark, watching our Olympians, that you work hard for four years and then just a little something can happen.  And you’re just that close, and the courage and the stick-to-itness, and the confidence, and the joy in competition that keeps you moving — that’s going to help you throughout life.  It helps our country. It’s what America is all about.  It’s why we are so proud to have you all here today.

And four years from now, I won’t be here to greet you but some President is going to.  And I suspect that a lot of you may come back even four years after that.  You guys have done a great job, and what an extraordinary achievement it is for all of you to have represented the United States of America at our Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Congratulations.  Good job.  (Applause.)

END
3:15 P.M. EDT

Political Musings March 20, 2014: Obama screens Cesar Chavez at White House pushes economic opportunity program

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama screens Cesar Chavez at White House pushes economic opportunity program

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After sitting a for a series of interview, President Barack Obama capped the day off on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 hosting an advanced screening of the new movie “Cesar Chavez,” the biopic about the founder of the United…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Performance at the White House: Women of Soul

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Performance at the White House: Women of Soul

Source: WH, 3-6-14

7:34 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Welcome to the White House for the latest in our series celebrating the music that has shaped our American story.  And as someone who always shares this house with brilliant, creative, talented, somewhat stubborn women –(laughter) — I think Women’s History Month is the perfect time to honor a few more:  the Women of Soul.  (Applause.)

This is a really good lineup.  And I want to thank our performers for this evening.  They are fantastic.  We’ve got Tessanne Chin here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Melissa Etheridge.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Aretha Franklin.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Ariana Grande.  (Applause.)  Ms. Patti LaBelle.  (Applause.) Janelle Monae.  (Applause.)  And Ms. Jill Scott.  (Applause.)  That is a lineup.  I can’t wait.  (Laughter.)

Finally, I want to make a quick public service announcement.  When Aretha Franklin first walked into Fame Studio in 1967, most of the other musicians had never heard her sing live before.  When they did, one of them said, “The floors rumbled and the walls shook.  My brain shook.  It was magic.”  So my advice to everyone tonight is simple:  Hang on.  (Laughter.)  The Queen of Soul is in the building.  If she blows your mind, it will be okay.  (Laughter.)

But that’s what soul music does.  It makes us move and it makes us feel.  To quote Jill Scott, “Soul music is about reaching and touching people on a human level.”

For many of the performers here tonight, it all began on Sunday morning.  Growing up in Detroit, Aretha sang at her father’s church, and recorded her first album at that church when she was just 14 years old.  Patti LaBelle was painfully shy — I cannot believe that, but this is what I’ve been told –(laughter) — until she sang a solo in front of the congregation, and got a standing ovation.  That’s when she realized she could do something special.

Eventually, artists like Aretha and Patti began mixing gospel with R&B, and rock and pop.  Instead of singing about love and pain, forgiveness and acceptance to a church audience, they sang about them to the world.  And the world had never heard anything like it.

When Aretha first told us what “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” meant to her, she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans, and women, and then everyone who felt marginalized because of what they looked like or who they loved.  They wanted some respect.  Later, when somebody asked her why it had such an impact, she said, “I guess everybody just wants a little respect.”  (Laughter.)

Today, they still do.  Aretha had already won 11 Grammys by the time Janelle Monae was born.  But as a teenager struggling to make it in New York, Janelle worked as a maid, singing for the other women as they cleaned houses together.  And she says the experience inspired her to write music for people like them — “because they need it the most.”

And when Melissa Etheridge was growing up, she fell in love with artists who had something to say.  She remembers thinking, “I can’t wait until I get up there and sing the truth.”

And ultimately, that’s what soul is all about — telling some truth.  And tonight, we’re in for a healthy dose of truth — (laughter) — from some of the finest voices there are.

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce a true American treasure, the one and only Miss Patti LaBelle.  (Applause.)

END

7:39 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 23, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the National Governors Association Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the National Governors Association Dinner

Source: WH, 2-23-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks to National Governors Association
February 23, 2014 8:42 PM

President Obama Speaks to National Governors Association

State Dining Room

7:11 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, welcome to the White House.  Everybody looks fabulous.  I am truly honored to be one of Michelle Obama’s guests tonight here at dinner.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank all the governors and their better halves for being here tonight, especially your chair, Mary Fallin, and your vice chair, John Hickenlooper.  (Applause.)

Tonight, we want to make sure that all of you make yourselves at home, to which I’m sure some of you are thinking that’s been the plan all along.  (Laughter.)  But keep in mind what a wise man once wrote:  “I am more than contented to be governor and shall not care if I never hold another office.”  Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt.  (Laughter.)  So I guess plans change.

I look forward to working with each of you not just in our meetings tomorrow, but throughout this year, what I hope to be a year of action.  Our partnership on behalf of the American people, on issues ranging from education to health care to climate change runs deep, deeper than what usually hits the front page.

Being here tonight, I’m thinking about moments that I’ve spent with so many of you during the course of the year — with Governor Patrick in a hospital in Boston, seeing the survivors of the Boston bombing, seeing them fight through their wounds, determined to return to their families, but also realizing that a lot of lives were saved because of the preparations that federal and state and local officials had carried out beforehand; with Governor Fallin at a firehouse in Moore, thanking first responders who risked their lives to save others after a devastating tornado, but once again seeing the kind of state-federal cooperation that’s so vital in these kinds of circumstances; spending time with Governor O’Malley at the Naval Academy graduation last spring and looking out over some of our newest sailors and Marines as they join the greatest military in the world, and reminding ourselves that on national security issues, the contributions of the National Guard obviously are extraordinary and all of you work so closely with them.

So if there’s one thing in common in the moments like these, it’s that our cooperation is vital to make sure that we’re doing right by the American people.  And what’s common also is the incredible resilience and the goodness and the strength of the American people that we’re so privileged to serve.  And that resilience has carried us from the depths of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes to what I am convinced can be a breakthrough year for America and the American people.

That of course will require that we collectively take action on what matters to them — jobs and opportunity.  And when we’ve got a Congress that sometimes seems to have a difficult time acting, I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to partner with each of you in any way that I can to help more Americans work and study and strive, and make sure that they see their efforts and their faith in this country rewarded.

I know we’ll talk more about areas where we can work together tomorrow.  So tonight, I simply would like to propose a toast to the families that support us, to the citizens that inspire us and to this exceptional country that has given us so much.  Cheers.

END
7:16 P.M. EST

Political Musings February 20, 2014: Obama owes Harper a pack of beer for Canada’s women’s hockey gold

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama owes Harper a pack of beer for Canada’s women’s hockey gold

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After waging a pack of beer for each of the US-Canada hockey match-ups at the Sochi Winter Olympic games United States President Barack Obama now owes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a pack of beer, after Canada’…READ MORE

Political Headlines February 20, 2014: Obama owes Harper a pack of beer for Canada Women’s hockey gold

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama owes Harper a pack of beer

Harper and Obama shake hands
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toluca, Mexico during the Three Amigos Summit

After waging a pack of beer for each of the US-Canada hockey match-ups at the Sochi Winter Olympics US President Barack Obama now owes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a pack of beer, after Canada’s Women’s hockey team won gold beating Team USA 3-2 in overtime on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.

Another pack of beer is up in the air when the US and Canada’s men’s hockey teams meet in the semi-final on Friday, Feb. 21. Obama and Harper made the bet during the Three Amigo’s Summit in Mexico this past week. Canada is the defending champions in both Women’s and Men’s hockey.

   I’m betting @barackobama one case of Canadian beer per hockey game this week. #teamusa is good, but #WeAreWinter#GoCanadaGo @WhiteHouse

— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) February 20, 2014

.@pmharper and I bet on the women’s and men’s US-Canada hockey games. Winner gets a case of beer for each game. #GoTeamUSA! -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 20, 2014

Political Musings February 19, 2014: Obama rehabs art history loving image, sends apology letter, hosts Monuments Men

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama rehabs art history loving image, sends apology letter, hosts Monuments Men

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 
Since causing an uproar when he mocked the importance and relevance of graduating university with an art history degree, President Barack Obama has been publicly trying to make up for the “glib” remark, showing he truly “loves…

READ MORE

President Barack Obama looks at the Edward Hopper paintings now displayed in the Oval Office, Feb. 7, 2014.

Obama appreciates two new Edward Hopper paintings now adorning the Oval Office

President Barack Obama appreciates two new Edward Hopper painting now adorning the Oval Office, Jan. 7, 2014; Obama is trying to rehab his image relating to the arts after joking about art history degrees in a speech about technical job training, Jan. 30, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Political Musings February 17, 2014: Romney talks Bill and Hillary Clinton, 2016, Olympics on NBC’s Meet the Press

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Romney talks Bill and Hillary Clinton, 2016, Olympics on NBC’s Meet the Press

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As part of former 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent increase in public appearances, he sat down for a short interview that lasted 11 minutes and recorded from a studio in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 11, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Remarks in Exchange of Toasts at State Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Source: WH, 2-11-14

President François Hollande of France raises a toast with President Barack Obama during the State Dinner on the South LawnPresident François Hollande of France raises a toast with President Barack Obama during the State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

This evening, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a state dinner in honor of President François Hollande of France. The French State Dinner menu and theme was inspired by the shared history and friendship between the United States and France. …READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France in Exchange of Toasts at State Dinner

Source: WH, 2-11-14

South Grounds Tent

 8:48 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everybody.  Bonsoir!  Please, have a seat.  I have now officially exhausted my French.  (Laughter.)  Michelle and I are so honored to welcome you to the White House as we host President Hollande and his delegation for this historic state visit between our nations — the first in nearly 20 years.

I think we have a translation.  Is that correct?  No?  You don’t want me to translate.  (Laughter.)  Apparently not.

At our press conference today, I quoted Alexis de Tocqueville — that son of France who in 1831 set out across our young country and chronicled our American democracy.  And those who are familiar with de Tocqueville are always amazed by how well he understood this nation of ours and captured its spirit as well as anybody ever has.  And tonight, I’d like to share some of his lesser known observations.

About American dining, de Tocqueville wrote, “The absence of wine at our meals at first struck us as very disagreeable; and we still can’t understand the multitude of things that [Americans] succeed in introducing into their stomachs.”  (Laughter.)  So some things do not change.  When François came here years ago as a student to study our fast food, I suspect he said the same thing.

About the White House, de Tocqueville’s traveling companion wrote, “The President of the United States occupies a palace that in Paris would be called a fine private residence.”  (Laughter.)  And he wrote — and I very much can relate to this: “The power of the King of France would be nil if it were modeled after the power of the President.”  (Laughter.)  And the King didn’t have to deal with the filibuster.  (Laughter.)

Now, Americans took lessons from France as well.  One young American lawyer went to Paris and was deeply moved to see white and black students studying together.  And that young American was Charles Sumner, who — inspired by what he saw in France — became one of our greatest abolitionists, helped to end slavery, and is one of the reasons that all of us can be here this evening as full citizens, free and equal.

Now, it is true that we Americans have grown to love all things French — the films, the food, the wine.  Especially the wine.  But most of all, we love our French friends because we’ve stood together for our freedom for more than 200 years.  Tonight I again want to pay tribute to President Hollande for the principled leadership and personal friendship and courage that he has shown on the world stage.  Thank you, François.

We started this visit yesterday at Monticello.  And I’d like to end where we began.  Thomas Jefferson wrote, “So ask the traveled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on Earth would you rather live?  Certainly, in my own, where [are] my friends, my relations, and the earliest and sweetest affections and recollections of my life.”  But Jefferson added, “Which would be your second choice?  France.”  Of course.

And so I propose a toast:  To our friend and partner President Hollande, to all of our friends from France who are here today — vive la France, God bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations.  À votre santé!  Cheers.  (A toast is offered.)

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  Mr. President, Dear Michelle, members of the Congress and French parliament, ladies and gentlemen — I hope that translation exists.  (Laughter.)

Mr. President, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome that you have extended to me and my delegation.  France and the United States of America are bound by ties of history — great history of French citizens such as Lafayette, who fought alongside the heroes of independence to allow your dream of freedom to prevail.  The glorious history of the Americans who came to fight on French soil during the First World War, and then in June 1944 to liberate the European continent from Nazi oppression.

This afternoon, it was a great moment and a great honor to award your Unknown Soldier with the insignia of the French Legion of Honor and to award medal to six glorious veterans of the Second World War.  I promise we shall never forget them.  (Applause.)

More recently, after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack, France shared America’s pain.  On that frightful day, (inaudible) we were all Americans.  This is the very reason why we endured together in Afghanistan.

Monsieur le Président, now I will speak French.  (Speaks French.)

I raise my glass in honor of the United States of America, of the President Barack Obama, Michelle — long life, the United States.  Vive la France et vive l’amitié entre la France et les États-Unis.

(A toast is offered.)

(As interpreted.)  Our two countries share universal values, and we have feelings for one another.  We love Americans, although we don’t always say so.  And you love the French, but you’re sometimes too shy to say so.  (Laughter.)  But we share the same universal values — freedom, democracy, respect for the law.  These principles guide our action.

Ever since I took office at the presidency, we have been defending them together.  In Mali, the French armed forces were able to rely on the efficient support awarded by the U.S. soldiers and equipment.  In the Central African Republic, your support has accompanied our operation aiming at restoring security in this country, torn by its actions and violence between religions.

Together, we have removed the unacceptable threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and we have succeeded in reaching an interim agreement.  In Syria, we together removed — through resorting to the threat of force — the threat of a worsening situation, and we managed to force the regime of Bashar al-Assad to accept the destruction of his stockpiles of chemical weapons.  And again, together, we are looking resolutely together for a political outcome so desperately needed.

Together, the French and the Americans, also want to work for growth and to introduce new rules that will prevent financial crises and enable us to fight more efficiently against tax evasion.  First, results are here, and the strength and robustness of the American economy is a source of hope for all developed countries.  Provided that we open up our markets and intensify our trade, we will succeed.

Together, we will also rise to the challenge of climate change.  Paris will be hosting the Climate Change Conference in 2015.  It is up to us to convince our major partners to take the necessary steps before it is too late.  And I know, again, that I can count on your commitment.

Mr. President, the relations between our two countries have reached an exceptional level of closeness and confidence, and there is one simple reason for that:  We share the same vision of the world and we show mutual respect.  The United States of America and France are two great nations.  What is expected of them is to keep a promise, a promise of freedom and the promise of progress, and also to keep a dream alive — that same dream made by Jefferson, Washington, Lafayette and the French revolutionaries — a dream to change the world.  By uniting our forces, by uniting our talents, we will be able to keep the flame of hope alive.

I raise my glass to the President of the United States of America and to Michelle Obama.  Long live the United States!  Long live France!  (Applause.)

END                9:02 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 11, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Speeches at Arrival Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Inside the French State Visit

Source: WH, 2-11-14

President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France listen to the French and U.S. national anthems during the state arrival ceremonyPresident Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France listen to the French and U.S. national anthems during the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the State Arrival Ceremony for President François Hollande of France on the South Lawn of the White HousePresident Barack Obama delivers remarks during the State Arrival Ceremony for President François Hollande of France on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady welcomed French President François Hollande to the White House – the first state visit by a French president in nearly 20 years….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France at Arrival Ceremony

Source: WH, 2-11-14 

South Lawn

9:25 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Bonjour!  That’s the extent of my French.  (Laughter.)  Few places in the world warm the heart like Paris in the spring.  This morning, we’re going to do our best with Washington in the winter.  (Laughter.)

France is America’s oldest ally, and in recent years we’ve deepened our alliance.  And today, on behalf of the American people and Michelle and myself, it is a great honor to welcome my friend President Hollande and his delegation for their first state visit to the United States — in fact, the first state visit by a French President in nearly 20 years.  (Applause.)

Yesterday at Monticello we reflected on the values that we share — the ideals at the heart of our alliance.  Here, under the red, white and blue — and the blue, white and red — we declare our devotion once more to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — to “liberté, egalité, and fraternité.”  (Laughter and applause.)

For more than two centuries, we’ve not only proclaimed our ideals, our citizens have bled to preserve them, from a field in Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan.  And today, we are honored to be joined by two extraordinary men who were there those historic days 70 years ago.  I ask them to stand, proud veterans of D-Day who are here in attendance today.  (Applause.)

So it’s no exaggeration that we stand here because of each other.  We owe our freedom to each other.  Of course, we Americans also thank our French friends for so much else — this capital city, designed by L’Enfant; our Statue of Liberty, a gift from France; and something many Americans are especially grateful for, New Orleans and the French Quarter.  (Laughter.)

Mr. President, like generations before us, we now have the task not simply to preserve our enduring alliance, but to make it new for our time.  No one nation can meet today’s challenges alone or seize its opportunities.  More nations must step up and meet the responsibilities of leadership, and that is what the United States and France are doing together.

To our French friends, I say let’s do even more together, for the security that our citizens deserve, for the prosperity that they seek, and for the dignity of people around the world who seek what we declared two centuries ago — those “unalienable rights,” those “sacred rights of man.”

President Hollande, members of the French delegation, we are honored to have you here as one of our strongest allies and closest friends.  Welcome to the United States.  Bienvenue, mes amis.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  Mr. President, dear Barack, dear Michelle, ladies and gentlemen:  It’s cold in Washington.  (Laughter.)  You’re right.  But it’s a beautiful day, a great day for our American friends.  And I will speak in French because I am obliged to do that for my country.

(As Interpreted.)  We are received here, my delegation and myself, as friends.  And I am particularly touched by this reception by the President of the United States.  We are always united by a common history, from Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy.  As you said so rightly, each of our countries knows what it owes to the other — its freedom.

Yesterday, we were in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s residence — a great American statesman, once ambassador to France — who remains one of the most beautiful symbols of the ties that unite us.  This afternoon, at the Arlington Cemetery, I shall award the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French distinction, to the American Unknown Soldier.  And I shall present American veterans who fought in the Second World War with an award and I’d like to pay tribute to these men.  (Applause.)

Thus doing, I wish to demonstrate the fact that France will never forget the spirit of sacrifice shown by these American soldiers, nameless heroes who left their homes to liberate my country and Europe.  We shall pay tribute to them during the celebrations that will take place in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing.  And I hope, Barack, that you will join me on the 6th of June, 2014, 70 years after D-Day landing.

Our two countries hold universal values, values that inspired Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin to write together the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  We stand together to fight terrorism.  Today still, France and the United States stand side by side to make these values prevail.  We stand together with the United States to address the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons; together to solve the crises faced by the Middle East; together to support Africa’s development; and together to fight global warming and climate change.  (Applause.)

Today, we stand united and we have built a model of friendship –- a friendship that is the best recipe for a better world, a world such as the one that was dreamt by Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette.  It is not just about friendship; it is about an alliance that will enable us to make this world a better place, a safer place, a more humane place.

Mr. President, I am proud to stand here.  You are this great man of the United States of America and you represent the United States of America, a country where everything is possible for who wants it; a country devoted to freedom and equality.  Long live the United States.  Long live France.  Long live the Franco-American friendship.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
9:39 A.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 10, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Remarks After Touring Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello

Source: WH, 2-10-14

President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France tour Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va.President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France tour Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va., with Leslie Bowman, President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Feb. 10, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This afternoon, President Obama and French President François Hollande visited Monticello, the home of former President Thomas Jefferson, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was a noted Francophile, and served as the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France After Touring Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Source: WH, 2-10-14

Watch the Video

President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello
February 10, 2014 9:26 PM

President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello

Monticello
Charlottesville, Virginia

5:32 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, this has been a wonderful visit.  And I want to thank François for joining us here today.  I thought this was an appropriate way to start the state visit because what it signifies is the incredible history between the United States and France.

As one of our Founding Fathers, the person who drafted our Declaration of Independence, somebody who not only was an extraordinary political leader but also one of our great scientific and cultural leaders, Thomas Jefferson represents what’s best in America.  But as we see as we travel through his home, what he also represents is the incredible bond and the incredible gifts that France gave to the United States, because he was a Francophile through and through.

He drew inspiration from the Enlightenment ideas that had been developed in France and throughout Europe, but he also drew from the arts, from the architecture, from the writings, from the culture and from the cuisine of France.  And so, in this sense, this home represents the bonds that helped lead to the American Revolution, helped to influence the French Revolution, figures like Lafayette, who played such a central role in our own independence — all this is signified here at Monticello.

And our hope in starting our visit this way is that, just as we can extend back through generations to see the links between the United States and France, tomorrow we’ll have an opportunity to talk about not only our current bonds and alliance but also ways that we can strengthen our cooperation in the future.

And of course, this house also represents the complicated history of the United States.  We just visited downstairs where we know the slaves helped to build this magnificent structure, and the complex relations that Jefferson, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, had to slavery.  And it’s a reminder for both of us that we are going to continue to fight on behalf of the rights of all peoples — something that I know France has always been committed to, and we are committed to as well.

And I’m looking forward to talking about issues of human dignity and human rights not just in our own countries, but around the world as well.

So, Mr. President, welcome to Monticello, and we look forward to continuing our conversation tomorrow.

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  (As interpreted.)  I would like to thank especially President Obama for having invited me to this house.  This is Thomas Jefferson’s house, which means that this was a man who understood — met the secretary of Enlightenment, and he wanted to represent this life throughout this house.  You can see life everywhere.  You can see it the objects, in the refinement of the objects, and its architecture.

Why is this house a symbol?  Because here Lafayette was welcomed.  Together, Lafayette and Jefferson imagined something that seemed impossible — mainly American independence and the rights of — human rights and the rights of the citizen.  Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, and Lafayette was also involved in drafting the Rights of the Citizen, and they met together in this house.

There is something quite unique about Jefferson in the fact that he been ambassador of the United States to France before becoming U.S. President.  I do believe that is the only American President that had that experience.  And he was U.S. ambassador to France at the time of the French Revolution, and he departed from France in August of 1789, which means after the 14th of July with the taking of the Bastille.  He thought he had seen enough and that he could go back home.  And then of course, he was involved in the governance of the United States before becoming President.  And then Jefferson purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. And today we are not demanding anything.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It was a good bargain, though.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  (As interpreted.)  I also wish to confirm that this bond that unites us with Jefferson, that these bonds are sustained over time, because he represents values and principles.  Freedom, human dignity, rights — these are the values to which we are continuing to fight around the world, the United States and France.  We were allies in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette.  We are still allies today.  We were friends in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette, and we will remain friends forever.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

END
5:41 P.M. EST

Political Musings January 20, 2014 First Lady Michelle Obama turns 50 and fabulous with star-studded dance party

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

First Lady Michelle Obama turns 50 and fabulous with star-studded dance party

By Bonnie K. Goodman

First Lady Michelle Obama has had a busy birthday week leading up to turning “50 and fabulous” on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 and capping it all off with a star-studded dance party called “Snacks & Sips…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the 32nd “Christmas in Washington” Broadcast

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at 32nd “Christmas in Washington” Broadcast

Source: WH, 12-15-13

National Building Museum
Washington, D.C.

7:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Well, merry Christmas, everybody!  I want to thank our host, Hugh Jackman, for keeping our safety in mind and leaving Wolverine’s claws at home.  (Laughter.)  It can’t be easy to wrap presents with those things.  (Laughter.)  Good for carving the “roast beast,” though.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank all the incredible performers for sharing their talents and their holiday spirit with us tonight.  And we appreciate the whole team at Time Warner and the National Building Museum who make it possible for our fellow Americans to enjoy these evenings’ performances.

Every year, we mark the holiday season with celebrations and good cheer.  And I should remind my girls that I like getting Christmas presents as much as anybody.  (Laughter.)  But this is also a time to remember the story of a child born to two faithful travelers on a holy night, long ago.

The sacred birth of Jesus Christ was God’s gift to man on Earth.  And through His example, He taught us that we should love the Lord, love our neighbors, as we love ourselves.  It’s a teaching that has endured for generations.  And today, it lies at the heart of my faith and that of millions of Americans, and billions around the globe.

No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message of hope and devotion that can unite all of us this holiday season.  It compels all of us to reach out and help our less fortunate citizens — our poor, our sick, our neighbors in need — and to serve those who sacrifice so much on our behalf.

And that’s why tonight’s celebration benefits the Children’s National Medical Center and all the children whose lives they touch and save — including all the little elves who are here tonight.

And that’s why, with our men and women in uniform serving far from home, in harm’s way, we thank them as well and their families, and we wish — this holiday season and all seasons — for peace on Earth.

To all Americans, from our family to yours — God bless you, and have a very merry Christmas.  (Applause.)

END
7:42 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency December 8, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Reception

Remarks by the President at 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Reception

Source: WH, 12-8-13

 

s

East Room

5:20 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good evening, everyone.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  This is truly one of our favorite nights of the year, and not just because of everyone who visits the White House — this group also usually wins “best dressed” award.  (Laughter.)  All of you look spectacular.  I am a little disappointed that Carlos Santana wore one of his more conservative shirts this evening.  (Laughter.)  Back in the day, you could see those things from space.  (Laughter.)

I want to start by thanking everyone who dedicates themselves to making the Kennedy Center such a wonderful place for the American people to experience the arts — David Rubenstein, the Kennedy Center trustees, and of course, Michael Kaiser, who will conclude 13 years of tremendous service as the president of the Kennedy Center next year.  (Applause.)  So on behalf of Michelle and myself, we want to all thank Michael so much for the extraordinary work that he has done.

As always, this celebration wouldn’t be what it is without the enthusiasm of the co-chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, George Stevens.  George.  (Applause.)  And his son, Michael.  And together, for years they’ve put on this event to honor the artists whose brilliance has touched our lives.

President Kennedy once said of such creative genius that, “The highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.”  Now, that’s easy to say when — as they do for these artists — the chips usually fall in your favor, whether at Woodstock or the Oscars or elite venues all over the world.

But the fact is that the diverse group of extraordinary individuals we honor today haven’t just proven themselves to be the best of the best.  Despite all their success, all their fame, they’ve remained true to themselves — and inspired the rest of us to do the same.

Growing up in Harlem, Martina Arroyo’s parents told her she could be and do anything.  That was until she said that she wanted to be an opera singer.  (Laughter.)  Her father — perhaps not fully appreciating the versatility required of an opera singer — said he didn’t want his daughter to be like a can-can girl.  (Laughter.)  In her neighborhood back then, opera was not the obvious career path.  And there weren’t a lot of opera singers who looked like her that she could look up to.

But Martina had a dream she couldn’t shake, so she auditioned relentlessly and jumped at any role she could get.  Along the way, she earned money by teaching and working as a social worker in New York City.  And when she got a call from the Metropolitan Opera asking her to fill in the lead for “Aida,” she was sure it was just a friend pulling her leg.  It wasn’t until they called back that she realized the request was real, and she just about fell over in shock.  But in that breakout role she won fans around the world, beloved for her tremendous voice and unparalleled grace.

Martina has sung the great roles:  Mozart’s Donna Anna, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Verdi’s Lady Macbeth, and, of course, Aida.  She’s played the world’s stages, from Cincinnati to Paris to Israel.  She’s broken through barriers, broadening our notion of what magnificent artists look like and where they come from.

And along the way, she’s helped people of all ages, all over the world, discover the art form that she loves so deeply.  For a lot of folks, it was Martina Arroyo who helped them see and hear and love the beauty and power of opera.  And with her charitable foundation, she is nurturing the next generation of performers — smart, talented, driven, and joyous, just like her.  For moving us with the power of her voice and empowering others to share theirs too, we honor Martina Arroyo.  (Applause.)

Herbie Hancock played his first concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he was 11 years old.  Two years later, he heard a classmate play jazz piano at a variety show and thought, “That’s my instrument, and he can do that?  Why can’t I?”  It turned out he could.  (Laughter.)

By 23, Herbie was playing with Miles Davis in New York and on his way to becoming a jazz legend.  And he didn’t stop there.  In the seventies, he put his electrical engineering studies to work and helped create electronic music.  In the eighties, his hit “Rockit” became an anthem for a fledging new genre called hip-hop.  At one recent show, he played alongside an iMac and five iPads.  (Laughter.)  And a few years ago, he became the first jazz artist in 43 years to win a Grammy for best album.

But what makes Herbie so special isn’t just how he approaches music; it’s how he approaches life.  He tours the world as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.  He’s done so many benefit concerts that Joni Mitchell once gave him a watch inscribed with the words:  “He played real good for free.”  (Laughter.)  And we know this because he’s played here for free a lot.  (Laughter and applause.)  We work Herbie, I’m telling you.  (Laughter.)

But we just love the man.  Michelle and I love this man, not just because he’s from Chicago.  Not just because he and I had the same hairdo in the 1970s.  (Laughter.)  Not just because he’s got that spooky Dorian Gray doesn’t-get-older thing going on.  (Laughter.)  It is his spirit, it is his energy — which is relentless and challenging, and he’s always pushing boundaries.  Herbie once said of his outlook, “We’re going to see some unbelievable changes.  And I would rather be on the side of pushing for that than waiting for somebody else to do it.”

Well, Herbie, we are glad that you didn’t wait for somebody else to do what you’ve done, because nobody else could.  For always pushing us forward, we honor Herbie Hancock.  (Applause.)
When a 22-year-old Carlos Santana took the stage at Woodstock, few people outside his hometown of San Francisco knew who he was.  And the feeling was mutual.  Carlos was in such a — shall we say — altered state of mind that he remembers almost nothing about the other performers.  (Laughter and applause.)  He thought the neck of his guitar was an electric snake.  (Laughter.)

But that did not stop Carlos and his band from whipping the crowd into a such frenzy with a mind-blowing mix of blues, and jazz, and R&B, and Latin music.  They’d never heard anything like it.  And almost overnight, Carlos Santana became a star.

It was a pretty steep climb for a young man who grew up in Mexico, playing the violin for tourists, charging fifty cents a song.  But as a teenager, Carlos fell in love with the guitar.  He developed a distinctive sound that has drawn admirers from Bob Dylan to Herbie Hancock.  And he gave voice to a Latino community that had too often been invisible to too many Americans.  “You can cuss or you can pray with the guitar,” Carlos says.  He found a way to do both.  (Laughter.)

And today, with 10 Grammys under his belt, Carlos is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time.  And he’s still attracting new fans.  Back in 2000, his album “Supernatural” beat out Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys to get to the Number 1 on the charts.  Kids were listening to Carlos who hadn’t even heard of Woodstock.

But despite all his success, Carlos says he still feels blessed to “be able to play a piece of wood with strings and touch people’s hearts.”  So for blessing all of us with his music, we honor Carlos Santana.  (Applause.)

Now, when you first become President, one of the questions that people ask you is, what’s really going on in Area 51?  (Laughter.)  When I wanted to know, I’d call Shirley MacLaine.  (Laughter.)  I think I just became the first President to ever publicly mention Area 51.  How’s that, Shirley?  (Laughter and applause.)

We love Shirley MacLaine.  She’s unconventional, and that makes her incomparable — with nearly 60 years of reign as one of the most celebrated stars in movie history to prove it.  “There are some performers that are indelible,” said one fan about Shirley.  “We fall early and we fall hard for them and we follow them for the rest of their lives.”  Now, that fan just happens to be a legend in her own right, who we honored here two years ago — Meryl Streep.  But Meryl is not the only one who fell hard.

Shirley has been drawing fans, including me, since — well, not since she first lit up the big screen — because in 1955 she was in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Trouble with Harry,” but she’s still spitting fire with the same old spunk, most recently playing the American grandma in “Downton Abbey,” which Michelle I think got some early previews for.  (Laughter.)  Along the way, Shirley has racked up just about every Hollywood award that is out there.  That’s why her nickname, “Powerhouse,” is so fitting.  The truth is Shirley earned that nickname for hitting the most home runs on the boys’ baseball team when she was a kid.  But I’d say that it still works pretty well to describe her today.

And that’s because Shirley MacLaine’s career isn’t defined by a list of film roles and musical performances.  Through raucous comedies, and stirring dramas, and spirited musicals, Shirley has been fearless and she’s been honest, and she’s tackled complicated characters, and she’s revealed a grittier, deeper truth in each one of those characters — giving every audience the experience of cinema at its best.  It’s a motto she has lived by:  “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb.  That’s where all the fruit is.”  For her risk-taking, for her theatrical brilliance, for her limitless capacity for wonder, we honor this American powerhouse — Shirley MacLaine.  (Applause.)

And finally, in a world full of brilliant musicians, there’s only one Piano Man.  The son of a Jewish father who left Germany for America to escape the Nazis, Billy Joel started piano lessons as a boy growing up on Long Island.  His father was a classical pianist, so that was Billy’s training too — until the night he and millions of Americans watched The Beatles play the Ed Sullivan Show.  Most people thought, “I want to hear more music like that.”  But Billy thought, “I want to make my own music like that.”  And from then on, it was all rock and roll to him.

With lyrics that speak of love and class and failure and success, angry young men and the joy of becoming a father, he’s become one of the most successful musicians in history, selling more than 150 million records.

Above all, Billy Joel sings about America:  About the workers living in Allentown after the factories closed down.  About soldiers home from the war, forever changed, bidding “Goodnight Saigon.”  Commercial fishermen struggling to make a living in the waters off of Long Island, sailing the Downeaster Alexa.  The sights and sounds of that city like no other, which can put anyone in a “New York State of Mind.”  And of course, the rag-tag bunch of regulars at the bar where he started out, shouting at him again and again to “sing us a song.”

Billy Joel probably would have been a songwriter no matter where he was born.  But we are certainly lucky that he ended up here.  And the hardworking folks he’s met and the music that he’s heard across our nation come through in every note and every lyric that he’s written.  For an artist whose songs are sung around the world, but which are thoroughly, wonderfully American, we honor Billy Joel.  (Applause.)

So, Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Shirley MacLaine,  Billy Joel — each of our brilliant honorees has given us something unique and enriched us beyond measure, as individuals and as a nation.  Together they bring us closer to President Kennedy’s vision of the arts as a great humanizing and truth-telling experience.

Their triumphs have lifted our spirits and lifted our nation and left us a better and richer place.  And for that we will always be grateful.   So we thank you all.

God bless you, and please join me in saluting one more time our remarkable 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees.  (Applause.)

END
5:36 P.M. EST

Political Musings December 8, 2013: Obama & family light National Christmas Tree at rainy ceremony with star line-up

POLITICAL MUSINGS

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=500&h=80?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama & family light National Christmas Tree at rainy ceremony with star line-up

By Bonnie K. Goodman

With a week filled with unrolling the holiday season at the White House, unveiling Christmas decorations hosting Hanukkah receptions, there was one more annual tradition President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and family had to partake in; lighting the…READ MORE
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