Political Headlines December 23, 2012: Presidet Barack Obama Golfing on Hawaii Vacation with Pal Arrested in Prostitution Sting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Golfing in Hawaii with Pal Arrested in Prostitution Sting

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-23-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Taking a break from the fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama spent the first day of his holiday vacation golfing with friends and aides, including longtime pal Bobby Titcomb, who was arrested last year on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute.

After arriving in Hawaii late Friday night, the president spent Saturday morning at his family’s vacation residence along the shores of Kailua, a quiet town on a stretch of beach on the east end of Oahu.

Shortly before noon, the president made the trip to the Kailua Marine Corps Base, where he hit the links at the Kaneohe Clipper course….READ MORE

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Political Headlines December 22, 2012: Weekly Address: President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama Wish Special Holiday Homecoming for Troops

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Weekly Address: Obamas Wish Special Holiday Homecoming for Troops

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-22-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

As the first holiday season with the U.S. military out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, President Obama wishes a special homecoming on American troops in his weekly address.

“This weekend, parents are picking up their kids from college — and making room for all that laundry they bring with them. Children are counting down the hours until the grandparents arrive, and uncles, aunts and cousins are all making their way to join the family and share in the holiday spirit,” he said. “And this year, that’s especially true for some of our military families.”

Joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, the two waxed on Americans reuniting with their loved ones, including those coming from abroad….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 22, 2012: President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama’s Weekly Address Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service

Source: WH, 12-21-12

In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thank our brave troops and their families for their service. The President and First Lady ask the American people to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to honor and support our veterans and military families, and say that we must all come together, as we always do, to care for each other during this holiday season.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops for their Service

WASHINGTON, DC—In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thanked our brave troops and their families for their service.  The President and First Lady asked the American people to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to honor and support our veterans and military families, and said that we must all come together, as we always do, to care for each other during this holiday season.

Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 22, 2012

THE PRESIDENTHi everybody.  This weekend, as you gather with family and friends, Michelle and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.

THE FIRST LADY:  We both love this time of year.  And there’s nothing quite like celebrating the holidays at the White House.  It’s an incredible experience and one that we try to share with as many folks as possible.

This month, more than 90,000 people have come through the White House to see the holiday decorations.  And our theme for this year’s holiday season was “Joy to All” – a reminder to appreciate the many joys of the holidays: the joy of giving…the joy of service…and, of course, the joy of homecomings. 

THE PRESIDENTThat’s right.  This weekend, parents are picking up their kids from college – and making room for all that laundry they bring with them.  Children are counting down the hours until the grandparents arrive.  And uncles, aunts and cousins are all making their way to join the family and share in the holiday spirit.

THE FIRST LADY:  That’s what makes this season so special – getting to spend time with the people we love most.

THE PRESIDENTAnd this year, that’s especially true for some of our military families.  You see, the war in Iraq is over.  The transition in Afghanistan is underway.  After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home.  And all across America, military families are reuniting.

So this week let’s give thanks for our veterans and their families.  And let’s say a prayer for all our troops – especially those in Afghanistan – who are spending this holiday overseas, risking their lives to defend the freedoms we hold dear.

THE FIRST LADY:  And remember, when our men and women in uniform answer the call to serve, their families serve right along with them.  Across this country, military spouses have been raising their families all alone during those long deployments.  And let’s not forget about our military kids, moving from base to base – and school to school – every few years, and stepping up to help out at home when mom or dad is away.

Our military families sacrifice so much on our behalf, and Barack and I believe that we should serve them as well as they serve this country.  That’s why Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces – an effort to rally all Americans to honor and support our veterans and military families.  Just go to joiningforces.gov to find out how you can show your gratitude for their service.

THE PRESIDENT:  Because that’s what this season is all about.  For my family and millions of Americans, it’s a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. To reflect on His life and learn from His example.  Every year, we commit to love one another.  To give of ourselves.  To be our brother’s keeper.  To be our sister’s keeper.  But those ideas are not just part of our faith.  They’re part of all faiths.  And they unite us as Americans.

THE FIRST LADY:  In this country, we take care of each other.  And in this season of giving, it’s inspiring to see so many people all across America taking the time to help those most in need.

THE PRESIDENTThat’s part of what makes us such a compassionate nation.  And this year, I know many of you are extending that kindness to the families who are still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy and your prayers to the people of Newtown, Connecticut.

THE FIRST LADY:  So thank you for all that you’ve done this year on behalf of your fellow Americans.

THE PRESIDENT: And on behalf of my favorite Americans – Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Bo – Merry Christmas, everybody.

THE FIRST LADY:  Happy holidays.

Political Headlines December 21, 2012: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: A Sassy Merry Christmas ‘I’m Stuck Here in Washington’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

A Sassy Merry Christmas from Mitch McConnell: ‘I’m Stuck Here in Washington’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-21-12

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

It’s a Christmas greeting with a few digs reflecting the frustration over the fiscal cliff stalemate from Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

In a video just posted to his You Tube page, the Minority Leader, sitting in front of a fireplace and Christmas tree says, “Hello I’m Senator Mitch McConnell. I’m stuck here in Washington trying to prevent my fellow Kentuckians having to shell out more money to Uncle Sam next year, but I wanted to take just a minute to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.”

McConnell then instructs Americans to drink eggnog, sing carols and enjoy their time together – because Washington has all the arguing covered already.

“So pour some eggnog, turn up the Christmas music and enjoy your family. No need to argue with your family, there is plenty of arguing in Washington to go around. Merry Christmas everyone.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Christmas in Washington — Obama Family Attends Christmas in Washington

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The Obama Family Attends Christmas in Washington

Source: WH, 12-10-12

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson listen as Megan Hilty performsPresident Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson listen as Megan Hilty performs at the “Christmas in Washington” concert taping in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Last night, President Obama spoke at Christmas in Washington. The concert, hosted by Conan O’Brien, featured performances including Diana Ross, Demi Lovato, Megan Hilty and others, was held to support the Children’s National Medical Center.

“Tonight is a chance to get in the Christmas spirit, to spread some joy and sing along with artists who have much better voices than we do,” President Obama said. “But it’s also a chance to make a real difference in the lives of some very brave young people being treated at Children’s National Medical Center.  Many of these kids and their parents are going through tough times right now, and your support helps give them a reason to hope –- not just during the holidays, but all year round.”

Diana Ross performs at the "Christmas in Washington"Diana Ross performs at the “Christmas in Washington” concert taping in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama said that Christmas is a time to share the blessings we have have with those who have less, especially those who are “spending this holiday in a hospital bed, or a shelter, or protecting our freedom on a battlefield far from home.”

Learn more about holidays at the White House

Remarks by the President at Christmas in Washington

The National Building Museum
Washington, D.C.

7:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody, and let’s give it up for our host –- the tallest elf I’ve ever seen –- Conan O’Brien.  (Laughter and applause.)  We’re also grateful to all the outstanding performers, the choirs, the glee clubs who are sharing their tremendous talents with us.

Tonight is a chance to get in the Christmas spirit; to spread some joy and sing along with artists who have much better voices than we do.  (Laughter.)  But it’s also a chance to make a real difference in the lives of some very brave young people being treated at Children’s National Medical Center.  Many of these kids and their parents are going through tough times right now, and your support helps give them a reason to hope –- not just during the holidays, but all year round.

And that’s really what Christmas is all about.  Each of us is incredibly blessed in so many ways.  But those blessings aren’t just meant to be enjoyed — they’re meant to be used and shared with those who have less.  The Christian faith teaches us that on this day a child was born so that we might have eternal life.  And at the heart of many of the world’s great religions is the idea that we’re all better off when we treat our brothers and sisters with the same love and compassion that we want for ourselves.

So yes, tonight is about Conan and Diana Ross and Santa and all the other talented folks on this stage.  But it’s also about the Americans who are spending this holiday in a hospital bed, or a shelter, or protecting our freedom on a battlefield far from home.  Let’s keep them in our prayers, and follow Christ’s calling to love one another as He has loved all of us.

Merry Christmas, everybody.  God bless you, and God bless these United States of America.

END
7:39 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency December 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony — Obama Family Flips the Switch on the National Christmas Tree

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The Obama Family Flips the Switch on the National Christmas Tree

Source: WH, 12-7-12

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree (December 6, 2012)President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson participate in the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Last night, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, made their way to the Ellipse, just south of the White House, where they helped to light the National Christmas Tree.

“We’ve been lighting the National Christmas Tree for 90 years now,” the President said. “In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we’ve always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle.”

The President used the occasion to describe another Christmas tree — one he saw in a Staten Island neighborhood, devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

“This evening, in Midland Beach, New York, on a street lined with houses and businesses devastated by the storm, a great big Christmas tree shines out of the darkness,” he said. “Just a couple of weeks ago, as impacted families were still seeking some sense of getting back to normal, one local nursery donated the tree, another chipped in for the lights and a star, and 70-year-old Tom Killeen and his longtime buddies from the area planted it at the end of the street, overlooking the town beach. As Tom says, the tree has one message: ‘It’s Christmas time, not disaster time.’ ”

The President urged Americans to keep the communities affected by the storm, as well as all those less fortunate, in our hearts this holiday season.

First Lady Michelle Obama reads “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” with Rico Rodriguez (December 6, 2012)First Lady Michelle Obama reads “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” with Rico Rodriguez to children onstage during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree event on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 6, 2012.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

With the 28-foot blue spruce lit up in white lights and topped with a yellow star, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Washington.

Watch the video here.

Remarks by the President at the National Christmas Tree Lighting

Washington, D.C.

6:30 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Merry Christmas, everybody!  (Applause.)   Michelle told me to be brief because she wants to hear music.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for that generous introduction and for your dedication to protecting our natural resources.  I want to thank Neil Mulholland and the whole National Park Foundation and the National Park Service team for helping to put on this beautiful production.

Let’s give a big hand to Neil Patrick Harris — (applause) — and this evening’s performers for putting on a fantastic show.  And I want to also thank all of you for joining us to celebrate this great American tradition.

As has been mentioned, we’ve been lighting the National Christmas Tree for 90 years now.  In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we’ve always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle.  But our tree has been having a hard time recently — this is our third one in as many years.  Our longstanding tree was lost in a storm, and then its replacement didn’t take hold.  It just goes to show, nobody’s job is safe here in Washington.  (Laughter.)  But I feel good about this one.  It was planted just days before Hurricane Sandy, and it made it through the storm in one piece.

Now, we know that some of our neighbors to the north saw a more ruthless and destructive Sandy.  And this holiday season is especially difficult for families who lost everything in the storm.  But it’s also a time for us to be grateful for the heroism and perseverance of ordinary men and women in the storm’s path who’ve showed us that Americans will always be stronger than the challenges that we face.  And as I did before Thanksgiving, I can’t help but tell a story of their enduring holiday spirit.

This evening, in Midland Beach, New York, on a street lined with houses and businesses devastated by the storm, a great big Christmas tree shines out of the darkness.  Just a couple of weeks ago, as impacted families were still seeking some sense of getting back to normal, one local nursery donated the tree, another chipped in for the lights and a star, and 70-year-old Tom Killeen and his longtime buddies from the area planted it at the end of the street, overlooking the town beach.  As Tom says, the tree has one message: “It’s Christmas time, not disaster time.”

And Tom is right.  For centuries, the message of Christmas — of peace and goodwill to all — has guided millions of people around the world through good times but also through bad times.  This year is no different.  It’s a chance for all of us to open our hearts to the least fortunate among us.  It’s a chance to remember what Christ taught us — that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive, and that the simplest gifts bring the greatest joy.  And it’s a chance to count our blessings and give thanks to those outstanding service members who bravely defend them.

For Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs, may this holiday season remind us of the spirit of brotherhood and generosity that unites us as citizens.  And may every tree from Midland Beach to this Ellipse and all across the country shine as a beacon of hope for all Americans.

So on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Grandma and Bo, I’d like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

God bless you, and God bless America.  (Applause.)

(Christmas carols are sung.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, everybody, I just want to say, can we give a huge round of applause to these outstanding performers?  (Applause.)  To our outstanding choir.  (Applause.)

Neil, are we going out with a song?

MR. HARRIS:  Sure, let’s sing one.  You start it.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no — (laughter) — I just wasn’t sure.  I know this program is taped so we can always edit this out.  (Laughter.)  Was there something else that we were supposed to be singing?  Santa Clause Is Coming To Town — that’s what I thought.  Let’s hit it!

(Everyone sings “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town.)

END
6:45 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency December 2, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception — President and First Lady Michelle Obama Welcome 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees to the White House

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President and Mrs. Obama Welcome 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees to the White House

Source: WH, 12-3-12

President and Mrs. Obama attend the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, Dec. 2, 2012.  President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President and Mrs. Obama last night welcomed a late night television host, an actor, a ballerina, a blues guitarist, and a rock band to the White House for the annual reception saluting the Kennedy Center Honorees.

As he introduced David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, Natalia Makarova, Buddy Guy, and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin to a crowd gathered in the East Room, the President described the honorees as “some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together.”

Each year the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts celebrates individuals who have made a lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television — and the primary criterion in the selection process is excellence.

Prior to the event celebrating their achievement held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the President took a moment to highlight their contributions to American culture, and the important role the arts play in our national identity:

So we’ve got Buddy Guy. We’ve got Dustin Hoffman. We’ve got David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, Led Zeppelin each of us can remember a moment when the people on this stage touched our lives. Maybe they didn’t lead us to become performers ourselves. But maybe they inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world.

It’s that unique power that makes the arts so important. We may not always think about the importance of music or dance or laughter to the life of this nation, but who would want to imagine America without it? That’s why we celebrate artists like the ones here tonight. And that’s why, in this season of joy and thanksgiving, they have earned our deepest appreciation.

 

President Obama delivers remarks during the Kennedy Center Honors Reception, Dec. 2, 2012.President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Kennedy Center Honors Reception in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 2, 2012. Honorees seated onstage from left: three members of the British rock group Led Zeppelin: singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, and keyboardist and bassist John Paul Jones; ballerina Natalia Makarova, television comedian David Letterman; actor Dustin Hoffman; and Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Watch the President’s full remarks at the White House reception

Remarks by the President at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception

Source: WH, 12-2-12 

East Room

5:31 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody, please have a seat.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Well, good evening, everybody.  You all look lovely.  (Laughter.)  Welcome to the White House on a night when I am nowhere close to being the main attraction.

Thank you, David Rubenstein, Michael Kaiser and the Kennedy Center trustees, and everyone who has worked so hard to uphold President Kennedy’s commitment to supporting the arts.  I also want to recognize another of President Kennedy’s amazing legacies, and that is his wonderful daughter Caroline, who is here tonight.  (Applause.)

None of this would be possible without the co-chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, George Stevens — where is George, there he is — (applause) — and his son Michael — where did Michael go, there he is — (applause) — who have produced the Kennedy Center Honors for 35 years now.

Tonight, we continue a tradition here at the White House by honoring some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got Buddy Guy sitting next to Dustin Hoffman.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got Dave Letterman alongside one of the greatest ballerinas of all time.  I don’t think Dave dances.  (Laughter.)  All three living members of Led Zeppelin in one place — (applause) — so this is a remarkable evening.

And it speaks to something that has always made this country great — the idea that here in America, more than any other place on Earth, we are free to follow our own passions, explore our own gifts, wherever they may lead us.  And people from all around the world come here to make sure that they too can provide us the incredible gifts that they have.

Tonight’s honorees didn’t just take up their crafts to make a living.  They did it because they couldn’t imagine living any other way.  That passion took each of them from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their profession.  Tonight, in the People’s House, we have a chance to say thank you.

Growing up as the son of a sharecropper in Louisiana, Buddy Guy made his first guitar out of wires from a window screen — that worked until his parents started wondering how all the mosquitos were getting in.  (Laughter.)  But Buddy was hooked, and a few years later, he bought a one-way ticket to Chicago to find his heroes — Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.  Pretty soon he was broke, hungry and ready to head home.  And then, one night outside a blues club, a man pulled up and handed Buddy a salami sandwich and said, “I’m Mud,” and “you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”  And that was the start of something special.

Of course, success hasn’t changed the humble country boy who used to milk cows on a farm outside Baton Rouge.  Buddy tells a story about his son Greg wanting to learn to play the guitar like Prince.  Buddy told him he’d better learn some Jimi Hendrix first.  (Laughter.)  It was only after watching a TV special on Hendrix that Greg found out Jimi had borrowed some licks from his dad.  So Greg said, “I didn’t know you could play like that.”  And Buddy said, “You never asked.”  (Laughter.)

Today, Buddy is still going strong — one of the last guardians of the great American blues.  And on a personal note, I will never forget Buddy playing “Sweet Home Chicago” in this very room back in February and him, and a few others, forcing me to sing along — (laughing) — which was just okay.  (Laughter.)  There aren’t too many people who can get me to sing, but Buddy was one of them.  And so we are so glad that we can honor him tonight.  Congratulations, Buddy Guy.  (Applause.)

When “The Graduate” was originally written, the main character was supposed to be Robert Redford — a tall, blond track star.  And when Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the part, a crew member handed him a subway token on his way out, saying, “here, kid, you’re gonna need this.”  (Laughter.)

Dustin ended up getting the role and it launched one of the greatest movie careers of his generation, of any generation.  Most actors dream of being in maybe one film that becomes part of our cultural vocabulary.  Dustin churned out “Midnight Cowboy,” “Tootsie,” “Rain Man,” “Hook” — not bad for a guy who signed up for his first acting class after a friend told him, “nobody flunks acting, it’s like gym.”  (Laughter.)

Still, I imagine one secret to his success is his inability to see himself as anything but an underdog.  Even after “The Graduate” became a runaway success, Dustin says, “I really believed that was a fluke and I refused to believe I had arrived.  And in a way, I’ve been hanging on by my fingertips for the entire ride.

Well, Dustin, you’ll be glad to know that this award was not supposed to go to Robert Redford.  (Laughter.)  He’s already got one.  (Laughter.)  So tonight we honor Dustin Hoffman — an actor who has finally arrived.  He’s made it.  (Applause.)  He’s made it.  (Applause.)

If you ask David Letterman what’s it like to tape his show, he’ll say, “if it’s going well, it just lifts you.  If it’s not going well, it sinks you.  It’s exhilarating. It’s my favorite hour of the day.”  It’s unclear how Dave feels about this hour.  It’s different when you’re not the one with the mic, isn’t it, Dave?  (Laughter.)  You’re looking a little stressed, aren’t you?  (Laughter.)  I’d also point out it’s a lot warmer here than it is on Dave’s set.  (Laughter.)

But I’ve enjoyed my time in the Ed Sullivan Theater.  And earlier this year, Dave celebrated his 30th anniversary in late night television — the only person to reach that milestone besides Johnny Carson.  Now, Dave will be the first to tell you that he’s no Carson, that all his years on television have only made him appreciate even more how unique Johnny was.  But that’s a good thing, because if he were more like Johnny, he’d be less like Dave.

After all, it was Dave who got his start as an Indianapolis weatherman, once reporting that the city was being pelted by hail “the size of canned hams.”  (Laughter.)  It’s one of the highlights of his career.  (Laughter.)  It was Dave who strapped a camera to a monkey — (laughter) — worked a Taco Bell drive-thru, told Lady Gaga that when he was her age, he had a paper route.  (Laughter.)  It was Dave who came back on the air less than a week after 9/11 to show the world that New York was still standing.  (Applause.)

So tonight we honor David Letterman, who has always offered us an authentic piece of himself — sometimes cranky, often self-deprecating, always funny.  And those of you who have been on his show know he is also a true gentleman.  So thank you, Dave.  (Applause.)

When Natalia Makarova defected from the Soviet Union in 1970, she made headlines around the globe.  But back home, her name was excised from textbooks, her photos expunged from the walls of her school.  And for the next 18 years, her countrymen were forced to rely on underground channels to follow the rise of one of the most accomplished ballerinas in the world.

But no one can erase what takes hold of the heart.  And in 1989, when the Iron Curtain opened, the Russian people welcomed her back with open arms.  Over 2,000 people packed the Kirov Theater where she had trained as a young girl — another 20 people crammed in with the orchestra — all to watch a dancer who never thought she’d be back.  It was a fitting end to a career that began when 13-year-old Natalia, completely double-jointed and possessed of an incredible gift for musicality and movement, told her parents she did not want to be an engineer, thank you, she wanted to dance.

After hanging up her shoes, Natalia moved to Broadway, where she won a Tony Award.  And she remains as humble as ever — once saying, “I’m never proud of what I’ve done.  Sometimes, I’m not ashamed.”  So thank you, Natalia, for the understatement of the century.  (Laughter.)  And thank you for sharing your talents with all of us.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

I worked with the speechwriters — there is no smooth transition from ballet to Led Zeppelin.  (Laughter.)  We were trying to work the “Stairway To Heaven” metaphor and it didn’t work.  (Laughter.)

So when Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham burst onto the musical scene in the late 1960s, the world never saw it coming.  There was this singer with a mane like a lion and a voice like a banshee, a guitar prodigy who left people’s jaws on the floor, a versatile bassist who was equally at home on the keyboards, a drummer who played like his life depended on it.

And when the Brits initially kept their distance, Led Zeppelin grabbed America from the opening chord.  We were ready for what Jimmy called songs with “a lot of light and shade.”  It’s been said that a generation of young people survived teenage angst with a pair of headphones and a Zeppelin album and a generation of parents wondered what all that noise was about.  (Laughter.)

But even now, 32 years after John Bonham’s passing — and we all I think appreciate the fact — the Zeppelin legacy lives on.  The last time the band performed together in 2007 — perhaps the last time ever, but we don’t know — more than 20 million fans from around the world applied for tickets.  And what they saw was vintage Zeppelin.  No frills, no theatrics, just a few guys who can still make the ladies weak at the knees, huddled together, following the music.  (Laughter.)

Of course, these guys also redefined the rock and roll lifestyle.  We do not have video of this.  (Laughter.)  But there was some hotel rooms trashed and mayhem all around.  So it’s fitting that we’re doing this in a room with windows that are about three inches thick — (laughter) — and Secret Service all around.  (Laughter.)  So, guys, just settle down.  (Laughter.)  These paintings are valuable.  (Laughter.)  They look very calm now though, don’t they?  (Laughter.)

It is a tribute to you guys.  And tonight we honor Led Zeppelin for making us all feel young, and for showing us that some guys who are not completely youthful can still rock.

So we’ve got Buddy Guy.  We’ve got Dustin Hoffman.  We’ve got David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, Led Zeppelin — (applause) — each of us can remember a moment when the people on this stage touched our lives.  Maybe they didn’t lead us to become performers ourselves.  But maybe they inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world.

It’s that unique power that makes the arts so important.  We may not always think about the importance of music or dance or laughter to the life of this nation, but who would want to imagine America without it?  That’s why we celebrate artists like the ones here tonight.  And that’s why, in this season of joy and thanksgiving, they have earned our deepest appreciation.

So congratulations again to tonight’s honorees.  Thank you all very much.  And I look forward to a spectacular evening.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
5:44 P.M. EST

Obama Presidency November 23, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama Receives the 2012 White House Christmas Tree

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle Obama Receives the 2012 White House Christmas Tree

Source: WH, 11-23-12

The official White House Christmas tree, a 19-foot Fraser fir, arrives in a horse-drawn carriageThe official White House Christmas tree, a 19-foot Fraser Fir, arrives in a horse-drawn carriage at the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama greeted the official White House Christmas Tree, which arrived via horse-drawn carriage. Daughters Sasha and Malia and First Dog Bo also helped welcome the tree. This year’s official tree is a 19-foot Fraser Fir that was selected in early October and harvested this month at Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina.. It will be displayed throughout the holiday season in the Blue Room. Members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented the official White House Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room each year since 1966.

First Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, and the family dog Bo, receives the official White House Christmas treeFirst Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, and the family dog Bo, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 23, 2012. The tree, a 19-foot Fraser Fir from Jefferson, N.C., arrived in a horse-drawn carriage. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Full Text December 24, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address with First Lady Michelle Obama Thanking the Troops for their Services and Christmas & Holiday Greetings

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tape a holiday message

The President and First Lady tape a holiday message in the Roosevelt Room, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 12/16/11

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as we Celebrate the Holiday Season

Source: WH, 12-24-11
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offer a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them:

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: The President and First Lady Thank our Troops for their Service as we Celebrate the Holiday Season

In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came together to wish the American people a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thanked our troops, military families, and veterans for their service and sacrifice. President Obama and Michelle Obama encouraged everyone to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to give back to our brave men and women in uniform and their families during the holiday season as we work together in the spirit of service.

Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 24, 2011

THE PRESIDENT: Hi everyone. As you gather with family and friends this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I – and of course Bo – want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

THE FIRST LADY:  This is such a wonderful time of year.

It’s a time to honor the story of love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago … a time to see the world through a child’s eyes and rediscover the magic all around us … and a time to give thanks for the gifts that bless us every single day.

This holiday season at the White House, we wanted to show our thanks with a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them.

THE PRESIDENT: For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one – welcoming a loved one back for the holidays. You see, after nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is over.  Our troops are coming home.  And across America, military families are being reunited.

So let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families’ service; for our veterans’ service.  And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear.

THE FIRST LADY: Our veterans, troops, and military families sacrifice so much for us.

So this holiday season, let’s make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do.

Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us”

One way you can get started is to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can get involved in your community.

THE PRESIDENT: Giving of ourselves; service to others – that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about. It reminds us that part of what it means to love God is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. But that belief is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. It’s why so many of us, every year, volunteer our time to help those most in need; especially our hungry and our homeless.

So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season – as Americans.  Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.

THE FIRST LADY: So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.

THE PRESIDENT:  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.

Political Buzz December 22, 2011: President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping with Bo

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Goes Christmas Shopping

Source: WH, 12-22-11

Just in time for the holiday, President Obama found a little time this week to get some Christmas shopping done. First Dog Bo went along for the ride — presumably to supervise the President’s stop at a PetSmart just outside Washington, where the two picked up a couple items and mingled with other shoppers, both human and canine.

President Obama and Bo go shoppingPresident Barack Obama reacts as Bo, the Obama family dog, meets a poodle named Cinnamon while shopping at a PetSmart store in Alexandria, Va., Dec. 21, 2011. (by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Obama goes Christmas shopping: Home alone at the White House, President Barack Obama headed on an impromptu Christmas shopping trip Wednesday with first dog Bo, searching for some holiday cheer despite the latest stalemate with Congress…. – AP, 12-21-11
  • Obama and Bo go Christmas shopping: President Barack Obama took a break from wrangling with House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon for a quick pre-Christmas shopping trip to buy gifts for his daughters and Bo the dog.
    After calling congressional leaders to reaffirm his support for the Senate-passed two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, Obama exited the Oval Office with Bo in tow and headed to a shopping strip in Alexandria, Va. — a man alone with his dog as his family vacations in Hawaii…. – Politico, 12-21-11

After leaving the pet store, President Obama continued on (companionless) to Best Buy to pick out some games and gift cards for his daughters before heading to a local restaurant for a few pizzas to take back to the White House.

Need more Bo? Watch this video about his role in this year’s White House Holiday decorations

Full Text December 16, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at “Toys for Tots” Drive

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle Obama Delivers Toys for Tots Donations

First Lady at Toys for Tots EventFirst Lady Michelle Obama sorts toys after she delivers toys and gifts donated by White House staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Campaign at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to deliver hundreds of toys that White House staff donated to Toys for Tots, an annual holiday toy drive organized by the Marines. She thanked volunteers and military families for their hard work and dedication to the 60-year old program.

This is hard work.  It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out.  I mean, this doesn’t happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen.  So this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers.  So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year.

Mrs. Obama made military families a focus of this year’s White House holiday celebration, and today she thanked them for all they do for our nation–and still finding the time and energy to run programs like Toys for Tots.

At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season. All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage. At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes.  We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas. And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.

She also encouraged everyone to do their part, no matter how big or small.

You don’t have to live in the White House. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up. You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country.

For more information:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

First Lady’s Remarks at “Toys for Tots” Drive

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

1:09 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thanks so much.  (Applause.)  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  And thank you, General Osman, for not just that very kind and generous introduction but for all that you do for “Toys for Tots” and for this country.

As he said, this is my third year doing this, and every year, truly, I look forward to coming by and seeing folks come together to make the holidays just a little bit brighter for their neighbors.

This is my last official visit.  This is a way to cap off my holiday season.  This is my last official visit before I get my kids out of here and we actually spend some time together as a family.  And this is a great way for me, personally, to end the season — being with all of you and doing what we can for kids who don’t have the fortune of — the good fortune of having people who can provide a wonderful Christmas.

But it’s also important for people to know what this tradition is and how it started.  It’s been going on for more than 60 years, and it started with a simple idea.  It was a Marine’s wife who fashioned a handmade doll, and then asked her husband to donate that doll to children in need for the holidays.  This was 60 years ago.  But that Marine couldn’t find a place to donate the doll, because no such organization existed.

So this couple decided to do something about it.  And that’s really what military families do.  I’ll share a story with you:  This morning, I was laying in bed with Malia, before they were getting ready for school, and she asked me what I was going to do today, and I said I’m doing “Toys for Tots,” and she said, that’s really a great program.  And she said, how did it start?  And I said, you know, Marines started it.  And most people don’t realize that, because “Toys for Tots” has become a national organization, a national brand; so many people adopt it, they forget that this is something that’s done by military families.  And Malia said, you know what?  It is so impressive that given all military families have to do anyway, that on top of what they do, they’re doing this as well.  And I’m like, look, if a 13-year-old can get it and understand that that’s who our military families are, then we all should get it as a country.  And it was a very powerful example of just how valuable and just how constant our military families — how selfless they are.

So soon enough, this toy drive turned into the national organization that we now know today as “Toys for Tots.”

So today, we’re here to continue that tradition.  And we couldn’t do it without all of the volunteers, all of the donors who work so hard during the holiday season.  This is hard work.  It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out.  I mean, this doesn’t happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen.  So this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers.  So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year.  You all have given so much to our country, as Malia has recognized, and then you keep giving more to your neighbors and the broader community.  And it is truly inspiring.

“Toys for Tots,” my relationship that I’ve had with military families all across the country, folks like you is one of the reasons why Jill Biden and I started “Joining Forces,” which is our major campaign to rally all Americans to honor, recognize, and support our veterans and military families.  And we’ve had wonderful success with this program, and it hasn’t been difficult at all.  People have been stepping up in ways big and small — businesses making a point to hire veterans and military spouses; local schools partnering to reach out to military kids.

America is behind our families, and a lot of it is because of this kind of work that you do every single day.  And it has been a true honor and a gift for me to get to know many of these families and to be able to champion your work to the rest of the country.  And “Toys for Tots” is just another one of those examples, and that’s why it’s so important for me to be involved this year, and to make sure that the White House is involved.

And this year is no different.  At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season.  All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage.  At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes.  We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas.  And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.

We had a 27 percent increase from last year.  That’s good, but we can do more.  We will be doing more next year.  So hopefully we’re doing our part.

But one of the important mottos of “Joining Forces” is that everyone can do something.  That’s what Jill and I are saying.  You don’t have to live in the White House.  You don’t have to spend a fortune.  You don’t have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up.  You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country.  And that’s the spirit that led the Marine and his wife to start “Toys for Tots” all those years ago, and it’s what will make this year’s drive successful once again.

Now before I go and we start getting to work, I just want to remind everyone out there who is watching this event that it is not too late to donate.  You can donate through the holiday season, and this year is like no other.  The demand increases even as giving increases.  There are more and more families that need support and help, so it is not too late.  So anybody who is watching this, any of our press who are writing about this, it is still important to nudge our neighbors; to say, give, give, give.  We need people to bring in toys like never before.

And I always point out that we always like to get those cute little gifts for the little kids — the stuffed animals, the little dolls, all the fun games.  But I always urge people to remember the older children, because these toys are going to families and there are kids from infants all the way into their teen years.  And we’re encouraging people to donate clothes, to get those fun games that you might think an average teen would get — think of somebody 11 to 14.  Many of you have kids; you know what these kids are into.  Those are the kind of toys that oftentimes we’re short on, so I urge people to keep the age spread in mind as they go out and pick up gifts.

And once you do that, you can still go to toysfortots.org to donate or to find a drop-off location.  So there is still time.  There is still a huge demand.  So anybody out there who has an extra toy — even wonderful, homemade gifts can be nice for some of these children.  So, again, it doesn’t take much.

But there are families — millions of families who are in need, millions of families who rely on this gift to make their holiday season special for their children, and there are so many of us who are blessed, who have the fortune, the good fortune to be doing well this holiday season.  And it’s up to us to dig deep and to make sure we take care of our neighbors out there who may be struggling.

So hopefully people will hear this message and they’ll go out and they’ll make this year’s drive the most successful ever.

I want to congratulate once again the Marines for their hard work.  I want to thank all the families once again for all that you do.  I hope you all get some rest, you get an opportunity to enjoy your holiday season.  We are so grateful and thankful to all of you.  God bless you all, and happy holidays.

And now I get to do a little work.  I’m going to do some toy sorting.  I assume I will get some instructions on what I’m to do, but we’re going to get to work.  So, you all, thank you so much.  (Applause.)

END
1:19 P.M. EST

Full Text December 12, 2011: First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Patients at Children’s National Medical Center

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Patients at Children’s National Medical Center

Source: WH, 12-12-11
First Lady reads Twas the Night Before ChristmasFirst Lady Michelle Obama reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” during a Christmas holiday program with children, parents and staff at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 2011. Participants included 19 year-old patient Ashley Riemer, right, Bo, the Obama family dog, and Santa Claus. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama visited patients at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., a tradition that dates back more than 60 years to First Lady Bess Truman. After touring the neonatal intensive care nursery and another unit at the hospital, Mrs. Obama settled in with Santa Claus and First Dog Bo to read T’was the Night Before Christmas to a group of children gathered in the hospital’s atrium.

After story time, the First Lady answered some questions about the Obama family’s Christmas Eve traditions (enjoying a big meal with extended family in Hawaii and waiting for Santa to arrive), her favorite Christmas movie (“It’s a Wonderful Life”), and what she’s getting the President for Christmas (it’s a surprise, of course!).

Bo at Children's National Medical CenterFirst Lady Michelle Obama and Bo, the Obama family dog, greet audience members at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 2011. Mrs Obama visited and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” during a Christmas holiday program with children, parents and staff. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

 

Remarks by the First Lady at Children’s National Medical Center

Washington, D.C.

2:53 P.M. EST

DR. NEWMAN:  Now, I’m Kurt Newman.  I’m the President and CEO here.  And we’re just thrilled to have Mrs. Obama with us.  We just had a wonderful tour to see a lot of the babies up in the neonatal intensive care nursery and on the intestinal rehab unit, and we talked to lots of doctors, nurses, patients.  So we’re thrilled to have her here today, with Santa Claus and Bo, to read a story about Christmas.

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, we ready?  Can everybody hear me?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, first of all, how’s everybody doing?

AUDIENCE:  Good.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah?  Is it exciting?  Christmas is coming.  How many people have done their letters to Santa?  You got to get on it, you got to get on it.  (Laughter.)  You got to get your letters done.

All right, I’m going to read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  How many people have heard that?  Good, good.  So you can help out, where possible, okay?  And I’ll try to show some of the pictures as well.  I had the honor of reading this with guess who?  Kermit the Frog.  Me and Kermit, reading it — it was very exciting.

Hey — hey, you, little one — (laughter) — what’s going on?  What are you talking — are you scaring her?  All right, you guys good?  All right.

Okay, we’re going to read.  Okay, folks, sit, sit.  Are you ready?  Okay.

(Begins reading.)

All right, this is the night before Christmas — it’s, like, Christmas Eve.  Santa is coming; a lot of excitement.

(Continues reading.)

What do you think he was looking for?

AUDIENCE:  Santa.

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, let’s see.  You think it was — what was going on, Santa?  We’ll see, we’ll see.  All right.

(Continues reading.)

Do we know their names?  Do you want to say them with me, if we can?

Now, Dasher!  Now, Dancer!  Now, Prancer and Vixen!  On, Comet!  On, Cupid!  On, Donner and Blitzen!  To the top of the porch!  To the top of the the wall!  Now dash away, dash away, dash away, all!

CHILD:  Santa!  That looks like you!

MRS. OBAMA:  It does look like you.

SANTA:  Thank you.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah, good one, goon one.  Now, which reindeer is missing?

AUDIENCE:  Rudolph.

MRS. OBAMA:  That’s right, where is Rudolph in this story?

SANTA:  He comes later.

MRS. OBAMA:  He’s later?  Later?

(Continues reading.)
He’s coming!  He’s coming into your house — (laughter) — with stuff.  How exciting!  What does he have?

(Continues reading.)

Way to go, Santa.  (Laughter.)  He cleaned up for you guys.  He got rid of the soot.

(Continues reading.)

SANTA:  Ho, ho, ho!

MRS. OBAMA:  Like a bowl full of jelly.  (Laughter.)

Way to go.  Way to be on cue, Santa.  (Laughter.)

SANTA:  Ho, ho, ho!

MRS. OBAMA:  (Continues reading.)

He’s busy, putting stuff under the tree.  It’s coming.  Christmas is coming!  It’s so exciting!  Oh, my goodness.

(Continues reading.)

He’s got to go to a lot of houses.  How do you do it?  (Laughter.)

SANTA:  — secrets.

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s a miracle.  No secrets.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle.  And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.  But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight:  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

AUDIENCE:  A good night.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yay!  (Applause.)

That’s a good Christmas song.  Okay, so we have time for some questions, my favorite part of this experience.  Because the questions are very interesting.

HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON:  Boys and girls, do you have some questions for the First Lady?

MRS. OBAMA:  We’ve got — I see one little red, beautiful red dress.  You feel like telling me your name?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Ellington.

MRS. OBAMA:  Ellington.  Ooh, beautiful name.  What’s your name?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  My name is Addison.

MRS. OBAMA:  Addison and Ellington.  will you speak for the both of you?  Thank you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  What does your family do on Christmas Eve?

MRS. OBAMA:  What does my family do on Christmas Eve?  Well, we have a tradition.  My husband grew up in Hawaii, right?  That’s where his family is And that’s hometown for us.  And we’ve gone there every year for 20 years.  So every year, we go to Hawaii.  And by the time Christmas Eve comes around, we put out the cookies for Santa.  We usually have a fun Christmas Eve dinner, and all the kids get around — they’re playing, they’re really excited, and they don’t go to bed right away because they’re too excited, and then we have to make them go to bed.  It’s a big hassle.  And then we wait for Santa.  It’s pretty simple.

What do you guys do on Christmas Eve?  What are you going to do on Christmas Eve?

Q    On Christmas Eve, we light the tree and —

MRS. OBAMA:  Wait for Santa.

Q    We light the tree, we eat dinner —

MRS. OBAMA:  Eat dinner.

Q    — we go to bed.  Most of the time my sisters and I are always awake until around 10, just waiting.

MRS. OBAMA:  Just waiting, can’t sleep.  The anticipation.

Q    And most of the time we see my dad going down the hallway.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Thanks, Ellington.  And Addision.  Thanks for the question.

Any other questions?  We’ve got people with mics.  Oh, here we go.  Here’s one over here.  What’s your name, sweetie?

Q    Alex.

MRS. OBAMA:  Alex.  Hey, Alex.  What’s happening?

Q    What does your family like to eat on Christmas?

MRS. OBAMA:  What do we like to eat on Christmas?  Sometimes we have turkey, sometimes we have steak.  The girls love —

Q    Ew!

MRS. OBAMA:  Ew?  (Laughter.)

Q    Steak?

MRS. OBAMA:  Steak.

Q    Ew!

MRS. OBAMA:  You don’t like steak?

Q    We don’t eat any —

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, we only have steak.  (Laughter.)  And we — and our girls love macaroni and cheese.

Q    Oh, me, too.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, that’s big on the menu.  Got to have a little macaroni and cheese.  But we have lots of vegetables.

Q    So do we.

MRS. OBAMA:  What kind of vegetables?  String beans?  We have string beans.

Q    Carrots.

MRS. OBAMA:  Carrots.  Carrots are good.  What other good vegetables?

Q    Broccoli.

MRS. OBAMA:  Broccoli, that’s our favorite.  We have a lot of broccoli.  What about you, Addison?

Q    — salad.

MRS. OBAMA:  Salad.  So we have lots of vegetables that go with our food.

Q    And spinach.

MRS. OBAMA:  And spinach!  All right, so you know, with your dinner, having a little meat and having some vegetables, be a good thing.  We do it at our house, okay?  And then we have dessert.  And we have pie.  Lots of pie.  The President loves pie.  (Laughter.)  All kinds of pie.  Okay?

Q    Do you like pie?

MRS. OBAMA:  What?

Q    Blueberry pie?

MRS. OBAMA:  Blueberry pie.  What other kind of pies?

Q    All of them.

MRS. OBAMA:  What?

Q    All of them.

MRS. OBAMA:  All of them — all of the pies.

MODERATOR:  All right, Mrs. Obama, we have one over here for you.  Right over here.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, okay.

Q    What is your favorite Christmas movie?

MRS. OBAMA:  What’s my favorite Christmas movie?  Oh, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Yes, that’s my — well, yes, that’s considered a Christmas movie.  “It’s a Wonderful Life” — have you seen that movie?

Q    No.

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s an old black-and-white movie — yes, I know.  It’s just — (laughter.)  All right, so that’s the old people’s movie.  Let me think of a current move that you’d be familiar with.  What’s a good Christmas movie?

Q    “The Polar Express?”

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, I love — well, that’s not a movie.  I love “Charlie Brown Christmas,” but that’s not a movie.  But my favorite holiday movie of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and you should get it because it’s about a man who thinks he’s not useful in the world.  And he’s got this beautiful family, and something happens and he wishes that he weren’t there, and a little angel comes down and grants his wish, and he sees what would happen in the world if he wasn’t there.  And even though he doesn’t think his life is significant, he sees that the whole town falls apart.  And then he wakes up and realizes that he’s got “A Wonderful Life.”  My favorite story.  (Laughter.)  It’s very sad.

HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON:  Okay, we have another question.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, I’m sorry.  I was getting into that a little too much.  Where is the other question?  Okay, what’s your name?

Q    Ebony.

MRS. OBAMA:  Ebony.  Hi.  I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t sing.  If my kids were here, they’d be embarrassed.  But they’re not so don’t tell them.  (Laughter.)

Q    What is your favorite Christmas story?

MRS. OBAMA:  My favorite Christmas story?  I like “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  That’s a good one.  I always read that one.  That’s one of my favorites.

Yes.  All right, any other questions?  Who do we have?  All right.  Right here.  What’s your name?

Q    Dionne.

MRS. OBAMA:  Dale?

Q    Dionne.

MRS. OBAMA:  Dionne.

Q    What do you personally give the President for Christmas?

MRS. OBAMA:  What — say that again?

Q    What do you give the President for Christmas?

MRS. OBAMA:  For Christmas?  Well, again, we go through this every year.  I’m not going to say because it’s going to be reported in the paper and it won’t be a surprise.  (Laughter.)  Because he will read it.  And he’ll say, Oh, that’s what you’re getting me.  So you know I try to get him stuff that he likes to do, sports stuff, clothes.  But the truth is, we generally — we always say we’re not going to give each other gifts because the gift is the love that we have for each other.  Yes, that’s a good thing.  (Applause.)  But then he usually gets me something.  And them I’m like, we weren’t supposed to get each other stuff. so I got him something but I’m not going to say.  All right?  That make sense?  Last year one of the kids suggested that I get him a hot tub.  (Laughter.)  Remember that?  We didn’t get him a hot tub.  (Laughter.)

All right, young lady.

Q    What did you ask Santa for this year?

MRS. OBAMA:  What did I ask Santa for this year?  I haven’t done my ask FOR Santa.

Q    You got to get on that!

MRS. OBAMA:  I got to get on it.  (Laughter.)  It’s true.  But what I really, really want is for all kids to grow up with the chance to be healthy and happy, and to live a good life, and to get a good education, and to grow up and be anything they want to be.  And if every child could have just that simple gift out of life, that would be a wonderful Christmas present for me.

I try to do it for my girls, and I know there are some kids that don’t have the support and the love that they need, and I wish every kid had the same kind of support and love that I know many of you have, because you are fortunate enough to be here and be surrounded by people who care about you.  I just want that for all kids all over the world.  (Applause.)

All right, we’ve got this young lady in the maroon turtleneck.  Yes, you had your hand up.

What’s your name?

Q    Veronica.

MRS. OBAMA:  Nice to see you.

Q    Do you all have parties — do you have like a Christmas party at the White House?

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, do we.  (Laughter.)  We have — my staff is — we open the house right — the day after Thanksgiving the big tree comes, and volunteers come from all over the country and they decorate the White House.  And they decorate for about four days.  We’ve got tons of Christmas trees, beautiful decorations.  This year we’ve done a tree for Gold Star families, which are families who have lost a loved one who is serving in the military.  And the big tree is in dedication to Blue Star families, and those are families who have a loved one serving in the military.

So it was a very special time decorating, because a lot of these families came to help decorate.  Once they finish, we open up the house, and we’ll have over 85,000 people who will come through the White House.  and we have holiday parties.  We have almost two every day for two weeks.  So, yes, we have holiday parties.  And the President and I are at every holiday party, and we shake almost every hand or take a picture, and we usually do them twice a day.  So, yes, we have a few people that come over.

Q    Thank you.

MRS. OBAMA:  What’s your name?

Q    Cameron.

MRS. OBAMA:  Camera?

Q    Cameron.

MRS. OBAMA:  I’m like, Camera?  (Laughter.)  Cameron — hey, Cameron.

Q    I was just wondering, how does Santa know which chimney to go down?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, that’s — would you like to handle that one, Santa?

SANTA:    I always go for the biggest one.  The bigger —

Q    The biggest?

SANTA:  — the easier is to get in there.

Q    Oh, well, you’re pretty skinny around now, man.  (Laughter.)

SANTA:  Yes.  I still have a few more weeks to get —

MRS. OBAMA:  He’s got time.

SANTA:  I got time.

MRS. OBAMA:  You can do a lot in a couple of weeks.  (Laughter.)

HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON:  Great.  Well, thanks for those wonderful questions.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, thank you, guys.

HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON:  Mrs. Obama, on behalf of Children’s National, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to be with us.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my pleasure.  My pleasure.  (Applause.)

END 3:11 P.M. EST

White House Recap November 26-December 2, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama, Michelle Obama & Family Bring Holiday Spirit to the White House, Lighting the National Christmas Tree & Unveiling a Very “Bo” Decoration Theme, “Shine, Give, Share”

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: NOVEMBER 26-DECEMBER 2, 2011

West Wing Week: 12/2/11 or “Bo Meets Bo.”

This week, the President hosted the EU Summit and the Dutch Prime Minister, announced a new commitment to fighting AIDS, and lit the National Christmas Tree. That’s November 25th to December 1st, or “Bo Meets Bo.”

West Wing Week

Source: WH, 12-1-11

This week, as the President urged Republicans to join a Democratic effort to prevent a thousand dollar tax increase on the typical American family, the White House got spruced up for the holidays. The President also hosted the EU Summit, the Dutch Prime Minister, and announced a new commitment to fighting AIDS in America and around the world. He also lit the National Christmas Tree. That’s November 25th to December 1st, or “Bo Meets Bo.”

Download Video: mp4(128MB)

Holiday Decorations

Weekly Wrap Up: Ringing in the Holiday Season

Source: WH, 12-2-11

Download Video: mp4 (128MB)

What happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:

Payroll Tax Cut On Wednesday President Obama spoke in Scranton, Pennsylvania urging Congress to extend a tax break for middle class families. Yesterday Congress rejected an extension of this payroll tax cut that is set to expire at the end of the month. Because of this failed attempt to extend tax cuts, the typical middle-class family is going to see their taxes go up by $1,000 in 2012. The President released a statement calling the vote “unacceptable” — and urging Congress to stop playing politics.

White House Holidays  The trees are lit and the ornaments are out. The First Lady welcomed military families to the White House Wednesday for a preview of this year’s holiday decorations. This year’s White House Holiday theme “Shine.Give.Share” celebrates the countless way we can lift up those around us and share our blessings with all.  Mrs. Obama’s guests saw the 18-foot  official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room that honors our military, the Gold Star tree in the  East Landing plus a series of topiaries built in the image of  the First Dog, Bo. On Thursday, the First Family welcomed hundreds to the National Tree Lighting Ceremony to bring in holiday cheer with guest performances including a reading of “the Night Before Christmas” by the First Lady and Kermit the Frog.

Green Building Initiative President Obama was joined by former President Bill Clinton on Friday as he announced the next piece of his “We Can’t Wait” initiative—a $4 billion investment in improving energy efficiency in buildings across the country. The President has also directed all Federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two months.

World AIDS Day To mark World Aids Day on Thursday, the President spoke about the progress made in the fight against the disease worldwide. He was joined via satellite by former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, while Bono, Alicia Keys and others were on hand to make a new commitment to help extend the progress made in the fight against this global pandemic. The commitment plans to help 6 million people get treatment by the end of 2013, 2 million more than the original goal.

EU Summit President Obama met with a group of senior officials from the European Union Wednesday to help find a solution to the Eurozone Crisis. The leaders issued a joint statement describing their shared commitment to create jobs and ensure financial stability. Later in the week, he met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to discuss his government’s commitment to keeping the euro intact.

Full Text December 1, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The holiday theme this year is “Shine, Give, Share.” You’re invited to see the Christmas decorations, go behind-the-scenes as the White House prepares for the season, and share a message of thanks with the troops.

Holidays at the White House
The Obama Family after the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/1/11

It’s on: The new National Christmas Tree lights up

Source: AP, 12-1-11

The new National Christmas Tree is settling into its new digs just south of the White House.

President Barack Obama and his family officially marked the start of the Christmas season by lighting the tree in a ceremony just after dark Thursday.

The 26-foot Colorado blue spruce was planted in March on the Ellipse, a park that lies between the White House and the National Mall. Strong winds in February toppled the previous tree, which stood in the park since 1978….READ MORE

The Obama Family Starts New Tradition at National Tree Lighting Ceremony

Source: WH, 12-2-11

Last night President Obama was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters Malia and Sasha and  “Grandmother in Chief” Marian Robinson to light a brand new National Christmas Tree in the President’s Park outside the White House. This year’s tree replaces one that was part of the national tradition for 30 years , until it was lost in a storm earlier this year.

In his remarks, the President wished Americans “the merriest of Christmases” and reminded everyone to keep the central message of the holiday season in their hearts:

In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us. And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

Continuing another tradition, the First Lady read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the crowd before the lighting ceremony began, and this year she was joined by Kermit the Frog.

 

View photos from the event and watch the President’s remarks and the First Lady’s reading below.

The Obama Family Lights the National Christmas TreePresident Barack Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react after pushing the button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The National Christmas Tree 2011The National Christmas Tree is illuminated during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. The White House is visible in the background. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog read "Twas the Night Before Christmas"First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a group of children during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Watch the Video

Remarks by the President at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree

The Ellipse

Source: WH, 12-1-11
5:31 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s nice having your own band.  Please have a seat, everyone.  Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!

Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for that introduction and for your hard work to preserve and protect our land and our water and our wildlife.  I also want to thank Minister Rogers for the beautiful invocation, as well as Neil Mulholland and everyone at the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service who helped put this outstanding event together.  I’d like to thank Carson Daly and Big Time Rush, and all of tonight’s performers for joining us to kick off the holiday season here at the White House.

For 89 years, Presidents and Americans have come together to light the National Christmas Tree.  And this year is a special one.  This year, we have a brand new tree.  The last one stood here for more than 30 years — until we lost it in a storm earlier this year.  But we all know that this tradition is much larger than any single tree.  And tonight, once again, we gather here not simply to light some decorations, but to honor a story that lights the world.

More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep.  But this was not just any child.  Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar.  He was a manifestation of God’s love for us.  And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful:  that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

That teaching has come to encircle the globe.  It has endured for generations.  And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans.  No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.

So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds.  In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in.  In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families.  In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us.  And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.  (Applause.)

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment
to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

So on behalf of Malia and Sasha and Michelle and our grandmother-in-chief, Marian — (laughter) — I wish you all the happiest holiday season, the merriest of Christmases.  God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And with that, I’m going to invite the entire Obama clan up here to light the Christmas tree.  I need some help, and there’s a lot of technical aspects to this.  (Laughter.)  Come on, guys.  (Applause.)  All right.

Okay, we’re going to start counting down here.  We’ve got the switch right here.

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, come on.

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody ready?  And this is the new tree.  I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree, but it’s going to take time to grow.  But we’re going to fill it up with some  spirit and start a new tradition right now.

All right, everybody ready?  We’re going to start counting down.  Five, four, three, two, one — (applause.)  There you go.  That’s a good-looking tree.  Thank you, everyone.

END 5:35 P.M. EST

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