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Barack Obama

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

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

Contents

Sourced

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

1990

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

Dreams from My Father (1995)

From an improbably short span it seems that my father fell under the same spell as my mother and her parents; and for the first six years of my life, even as that spell was broken and the worlds that they thought they'd left behind reclaimed each of them, I occupied the place where their dreams had been.
Strange how a single conversation can change you.
With our eyes closed, we uttered the same words, but in our hearts we each prayed to our own masters; we each remained locked in our own memories; we all clung to our own foolish magic.
  • At the time of his death, my father remained a myth to me, both more and less than a man.
    • p. 5
  • I would not have known at the time, for I was too young to realize that I was supposed to have a live-in father, just as I was too young to know that I needed a race. From an improbably short span it seems that my father fell under the same spell as my mother and her parents; and for the first six years of my life, even as that spell was broken and the worlds that they thought they'd left behind reclaimed each of them, I occupied the place where their dreams had been.
    • p. 27
  • Away from my mother, away from my grandparents, I was engaged in a fitful interior struggle. I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant.
    • p. 76
  • Strange how a single conversation can change you. Or maybe it only seems that way in retrospect. A year passes and you know you feel differently, but you're not sure what or why or how, so your mind casts back for something that might give that difference shape: a word, a glance, a touch.
    • p. 105
  • Was the collaboration of some slaves any different than the silence of some Iranians who stood by and did nothing as Savak thugs murdered and tortured opponents of the Shah? How could we judge other men until we had stood in their shoes?
    • p. 117
  • The emotions between the races could never be pure; even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart.
    • p. 124
  • Organizers didn't make any money; their poverty was proof of their integrity.
    • p. 135
  • With our eyes closed, we uttered the same words, but in our hearts we each prayed to our own masters; we each remained locked in our own memories; we all clung to our own foolish magic.
    • p. 163
  • That's what the leadership was teaching me, day by day: that the self-interest I was supposed to be looking for extended well beyond the immediacy of issues, that beneath the small talk and sketchy biographies and received opinions people carried within them some central explanation of themselves. Stories full of terror and wonder, studded with events that still haunted or inspired them. Sacred stories.
    • p. 190
  • The king is overthrown, I thought. The emerald curtain is pulled aside. The rabble of my head is free to run riot; I can do what I damn well please. For what man, if not my own father, has the power to tell me otherwise? Whatever I do, it seems, I won't do much worse than he did.
    • p. 220
  • ...maybe once you stripped away the rationalizations, it always came down to a simple matter of escape. An escape from poverty or boredom or crime or the shackles of your skin.
    • p. 277
  • And if you say to him that he's serving the interests of neocolonialism or some other such thing, he will reply that yes, he will serve if that is what's required. It is the lucky ones who serve; the unlucky ones drift into the murky tide of hustles and odd jobs; many will drown.
    • p. 315
  • What had I expected my little lecture to accomplish? My simple formulas for Third World solidarity had little application in Kenya. Here, persons of Indian extraction were like the Chinese in Indonesia, the Koreans in the South Side of Chicago, outsiders who knew how to trade and kept to themselves, working the margins of a racial caste system, more visible and so more vulnerable to resentment. It was nobody's fault necessarily. It was just a matter of history, an unfortunate fact of life.
    • p.s 347-348
  • Oh, Father, I cried. There was no shame in my confusion. Just as there had been no shame in your father's before you. No shame in the fear, or in the fear of his father before him. There was only shame in the silence fear had produced.
    • p. 429
It is the lucky ones who serve; the unlucky ones drift into the murky tide of hustles and odd jobs; many will drown.
  • I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America — the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I'd felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I'd witnessed in Chicago — all of it was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain I felt was my father's pain. My questions were my brothers' questions. Their struggle, my birthright.
    • p. 430
  • The study of law can be disappointing at times, a matter of applying narrow rules and arcane procedure to an uncooperative reality; a sort of glorified accounting that serves to regulate the affairs of those who have power — and that all too often seeks to explain, to those who do not, the ultimate wisdom and justness of their condition. But that's not all the law is. The law is also memory; the law also records a long-running conversation, a nation arguing with its conscience.
    • p. 437
  • What is our community, and how might that community be reconciled with our freedom? How far do our obligations reach? How do we transform mere power into justice, mere sentiment into love?
    • p. 438
  • All too rarely do I hear people asking just what it is that we've done to make so many children's hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right their moral compass — what values we must live by. Instead I see us doing what we've always done — pretending that these children are somehow not our own.
    • p. 438

1996

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

2000

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

2002

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

2003

2004

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

Democratic National Convention speech (2004)

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

2005

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

2006

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

The Audacity of Hope (2006)

War might be hell and still the right thing to do. Economies could collapse despite the best-laid plans. People could work hard all their lives and still lose everything.
Values are faithfully applied to the facts before us, while ideology overrides whatever facts call theory into question.
We will need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break.
  • Someone once said that every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes, and I suppose that may explain my particular malady as well as anything else.
    • p. 3
  • I began to harbor doubts about the path I had chosen; I began feeling the way I imagine an actor or athlete must feel when, after years of commitment to a particular dream, after years of waiting tables between auditions or scratching out hits in the minor leagues, he realizes that he's gone just about as far as talent or fortune will take him. The dream will not happen, and he now faces the choice of accepting this fact like a grown-up and moving on to more sensible pursuits, or refusing the truth and ending up bitter, quarrelsome, and slightly pathetic.
    • p. 4
  • Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can't help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class continue to shape our lives.
    • p. 10
  • When Democrats rush up to me at events and insist that we live in the worst of political times, that a creeping fascism is closing its grip around our throats, I may mention the internment of Japanese Americans under FDR, the Alien and Sedition Acts under John Adams, or a hundred years of lynching under several dozen administrations as having been possibly worse, and suggest we all take a deep breath. When people at dinner parties ask me how I can possibly operate in the current political environment, with all the negative campaigning and personal attacks, I may mention Nelson Mandela, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, or some guy in a Chinese or Egyptian prison somewhere. In truth, being called names is not such a bad deal.
    • p. 21-22
  • We will need to understand just how we got to this place, this land of warring factions and tribal hatreds. And we will need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break.
    • p. 25
  • War might be hell and still the right thing to do. Economies could collapse despite the best-laid plans. People could work hard all their lives and still lose everything.
    • p. 36
  • By the end of the week, I was sorry to leave. Not simply because I had made so many new friends, but because in the faces of all the men and women I'd met I had recognized pieces of myself.
    • p. 50-51
  • Identities are scrambling, and then cohering in new ways. Beliefs keep slipping through the noose of predictability. Facile expectations and simple explanations are being constantly upended.
    • p. 51
  • In a country as diverse as ours, there will always be passionate arguments about how we draw the line when it comes to government action. That is how our democracy works. But our democracy might work a bit better if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect: if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his gun as they feel about their library books, and if conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of their right to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do of their right to worship.
    • p. 57
  • While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes- mass murder, the rape and murder of a child- so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment.
    • p. 57-58
  • Values are faithfully applied to the facts before us, while ideology overrides whatever facts call theory into question.
    • p. 59
  • All the money in the world won't boost student achievement if parents make no effort to instill in their children the values of hard work and delayed gratification.
    • p. 63
  • We say we value the legacy we leave the next generation and then saddle that generation with mountains of debt. We say we believe in equal opportunity but then stand idle while millions of American children languish in poverty. We insist that we value family, but then structure our economy and organize our lives so as to ensure that our families get less and less of our time.
    • p. 68-69
  • For in the end laws are just words on a page- words that are sometimes malleable, opaque, as dependent on context and trust as they are in a story or poem or promise to someone, words whose meanings are subject to erosion, sometimes collapsing in the blink of an eye.
    • p. 77
  • We also understand that a declaration is not a government; a creed is not enough. The Founders recognized that there were seeds of anarchy in the idea of individual freedom, an intoxicating danger in the idea of equality, for if everybody is truly free, without the constraints of birth or rank or an inherited social order- if my notion of faith is no better or worse than yours, and my notions of truth and goodness and beauty are as true and good and beautiful as yours- then how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres? Enlightenment thinkers like Hobbes and Locke suggested that free men would form governments as a bargain to ensure that one man's freedom did not become another man's tyranny; that they would sacrifice individual license to better preserve their liberty.
    • p. 86-87
  • We are on our own, and have only our own reason and our judgment to rely on.
    • p. 89
But deliberation alone could not provide the slave his freedom or cleanse America of its original sin. In the end, it was the sword that would sever his chains.
  • But deliberation alone could not provide the slave his freedom or cleanse America of its original sin. In the end, it was the sword that would sever his chains.
    • p. 96
  • I love America too much, am too invested in what this country has become, too committed to its institutions, its beauty, and even its ugliness, to focus entirely on the circumstances of its birth. But neither can I brush aside the magnitude of the injustice done, or erase the ghosts of generations past, or ignore the open wound, the aching spirit, that ails this country still.
    • p. 96-97
  • The blood of slaves reminds us that our pragmatism can sometimes be moral cowardice. Lincoln, and those buried at Gettysburg, remind us that we should pursue our own absolute truths only if we acknowledge that there may be a terrible price to pay.
    • p. 98
  • I'm not suggesting that politicians are unique in suffering such disappointments. It's that unlike most people, who have the luxury of licking their wounds privately, the politician's loss is on public display.
    • p. 107
  • As for most politicians, money isn't about getting rich. In the Senate, at least, most members are already rich. It's about maintaining status and power; it's about scaring off challengers and fighting off the fear. Money can't guarantee victory- it can't buy passion, charisma, or the ability to tell a story. But without money, and the television ads that consume all the money, you are pretty much guaranteed to lose.
    • p. 109
  • In our standard economics textbooks and in our modern political debates, laissez-faire is the default rule; anyone who would challenge it swims against the prevailing tide.
    • p. 150
  • Parents have the primary responsibility for instilling an ethic of hard work and educational achievement in their children.
    • p. 160
  • If the prospect of melting ice caps, rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, more frequent hurricanes, more violent tornadoes, endless dust storms, decaying forests, dying coral reefs, and increases in respiratory illness and insect-borne diseases- if all that doesn't constitute a serious threat, I don't know what does.
    • p. 168
  • More than anything, it is that sense- that despite great differences in wealth, we rise and fall together- that we can't afford to lose. As the pace of change accelerates, with some rising and many falling, that sense of common kinship becomes harder to maintain.
    • p. 193
In our standard economics textbooks and in our modern political debates, laissez-faire is the default rule; anyone who would challenge it swims against the prevailing tide.
  • I came to realize that without a vessel for my beliefs, without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith, I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart, free in the way that my mother was free, but also alone in the same ways she was ultimately alone.
    • p. 206
  • I understand these fears- nowhere is it ordained that history moves in a straight line, and during difficult economic times it is possible that the imperatives of racial equality get shunted aside.
    • p. 248
  • At times, American foreign policy has been farsighted, simultaneously serving our national interests, our ideals, and the interests of other nations. At other times American policies have been misguided, based on false assumptions that ignore the legitimate aspirations of other peoples, undermine our own credibility, and make for a more dangerous world.
    • p. 280
  • Moreover, while America's revolutionary origins and republican form of government might make it sympathetic toward those seeking freedom elsewhere, America's early leaders cautioned against idealistic attempts to export our way of life; according to John Quincy Adams, America should not go "abroad in search of monsters to destroy" nor "become the dictatress of the world." Providence had changed America with the task of making a new world, not reforming the old; protected by an ocean and with the bounty of a continent, America could best serve the cause of freedom by concentrating on its own development, becoming a beacon of hope for other nations and people around the globe.
    • p. 280-281
  • Of course, manifest destiny also meant bloody and violent conquest- of Native American tribes forcibly removed from their lands and of the Mexican army defending its territory. It was a conquest that, like slavery, contradicted America's founding principles and tended to be justified in explicitly racist terms, a conquest that American mythology has always had difficulty fully absorbing but that other countries recognized for what it was- an exercise in raw power.
    • p. 281
  • For the next twenty years, America turned resolutely inward- reducing its army and navy, refusing to join the World Court, standing idly by as Italy, Japan, and Nazi Germany built up their military machines.
    • p. 283
  • The very interconnectivity that increasingly binds the world together has empowered those who would tear that world down.
    • p. 305
  • No person, in any culture, likes to be bullied. No person likes living in fear because his or her ideas are different. Nobody likes being poor or hungry, and nobody likes to live under an economic system in which the fruits of his or her labor go perpetually unrewarded.
    • p. 316
  • In almost every successful social movement of the last century, from Gandhi's campaign against British rule to the Solidarity movement in Poland to the antiapartheid movement in South Africa, democracy was the result of a local awakening.
    • p. 316
  • When we detain suspects indefinitely without trial or ship them off in the dead of night to countries where we know they'll be tortured, we weaken our ability to press for human rights and the rule of law in despotic regimes.
    • p. 321
  • I reminded the men in the audience that being a father meant more than fathering a child; that even those of us who were physically present in the home are often emotionally absent; that precisely because many of us didn't have fathers in the house we have to redouble our efforts to break the cycle; and that if we want to pass on high expectations to our children, we have to have higher expectations for ourselves.
    • p. 347

2007

I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics. So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need.
I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington, but I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change. People who love their country can change it.
It is time for us to fundamentally change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back. And it is time to refocus America's efforts on the challenges we face at home and the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
  • I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics. So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need...The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, commonsense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.
  • There are countless reasons the American people have lost confidence in the President's Iraq policy, but chief among them has been the administration's insistence on making promises and assurances about progress and victory that do not appear to be grounded in the reality of the facts. We have been told we would be greeted as liberators. We have been promised the insurgency was in its last throes. We have been assured again and again that we are making progress and that the Iraqis would soon stand up so we could stand down and our brave sons and daughters could start coming home. We have been asked to wait, we have been asked to be patient, and we have been asked to give the President and the new Iraqi Government 6 more months, and then 6 more months after that, and then 6 more months after that.
    • Floor Statement on President's Decision to Increase Troops in Iraq (19 January 2007)
  • I have been a consistent and strong opponent of this war. I have also tried to act responsibly in that opposition to ensure that, having made the decision to go into Iraq, we provide our troops, who perform valiantly, the support they need to complete their mission. I have also stated publicly that I think we have both strategic interests and humanitarian responsibilities in ensuring that Iraq is as stable as possible under the circumstances. Finally, I said publicly that it is my preference not to micromanage the Commander-in-Chief in the prosecution of war. Ultimately, I do not believe that is the ideal role for Congress to play. But at a certain point, we have to draw a line. At a certain point, the American people have to have some confidence that we are not simply going down this blind alley in perpetuity.
    When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the President on another tried-and-failed policy, opposed by generals and experts, opposed by Democrats and Republicans, opposed by Americans and even the Iraqis themselves. It is time to change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back, and it is time to refocus America's effort on the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
    • Floor Statement on President's Decision to Increase Troops in Iraq (19 January 2007)
  • The U.S. military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in Iraq. Our troops have done all that we have asked them to do and more. But no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants.
    It is my firm belief that the responsible course of action - for the United States, for Iraq, and for our troops - is to oppose this reckless escalation and to pursue a new policy. This policy that I've laid out is consistent with what I have advocated for well over a year, with many of the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, and with what the American people demanded in the November election.
    When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience, is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the President on another tried and failed policy opposed by generals and experts, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and many of the Iraqis themselves.
    It is time for us to fundamentally change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back. And it is time to refocus America's efforts on the challenges we face at home and the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
    • Floor Statement on Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007 (30 January 2007)
  • It is important at this point that Congress offer specific constructive approaches to what’s proven to be a foreign policy disaster because we’ve got too much at stake to simply stand on the sidelines and criticize...If we simply cut off funding without any structure for how a redeployment takes place, then you could genuinely have a Constitutional crisis or at least a crisis on the ground where the president continues to send troops there but now they’re being shortchanged in terms of armaments and support...The notion that as a consequence of that [2002 Congressional] authorization, the president can continue down a failed path without any constraints from Congress whatsoever is wrong and is not warranted by our Constitution.
  • We've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We are distracted from our real failures and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants, and as people have looked away in frustration and disillusionment, we know who has filled the void. The cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests, who've turned government into only a game they can afford to play. They write the checks while you get stuck with the bill. They get access while you get to write a letter.
    • Announcement of Candidacy for President of the United States. (10 February 2007)
  • The Israeli people, and Prime Minister Olmert, have made clear that they are more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and security. But the Israelis must trust that they have a true Palestinian partner for peace. That is why we must strengthen the hands of Palestinian moderates who seek peace and that is why we must maintain the isolation of Hamas and other extremists who are committed to Israel's destruction.
  • In Africa, you often see that the difference between a village where everybody eats and a village where people starve is government. One has a functioning government, and the other does not. Which is why it bothers me when I hear people say that government is the enemy. They don't understand its fundamental role.
    • Profile in The Independent Magazine (10 March 2007)
  • Nobody's suffering more than the Palestinian people from this whole process. And I would like to see — if we could get some movement from Palestinian leadership — what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people.
  • Israel is our friend, that we will assist in their security.
    • YouTube debate
  • I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.

2008

In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.
Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
I try to explain … something about the Aloha Spirit. I try to explain … this basic idea that we all have obligations to each other, that we're not alone...
We've been divided for so long, we've been arguing for so long, a lot of times about things that aren't even worth arguing about, and ignoring the things that we should be doing to make the next generation have a better life — that I think people are hungry for a new politics, they're hungry for change...
Contrary to the rumours that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth.
  • We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.
  • There was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq, until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.
    • Speech in Columbus, Ohio (27 February 2008)
  • I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together — unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction — towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
    • Speech on race relations at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (18 March 2008)
  • For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
    And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
    • Speech on race relations at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (18 March 2008)
  • The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
    And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
    I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
    These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
    • Speech on race relations at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (18 March 2008)
  • This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation — the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
    • Speech on race relations at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (18 March 2008)
  • Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
    "I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
    But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
    • Speech on race relations at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (18 March 2008)
  • John McCain once opposed these tax cuts — he rightly called them unfair and fiscally irresponsible. But now he has done an about face and wants to make them permanent, just like he wants a permanent occupation in Iraq. No matter what the costs, no matter what the consequences, John McCain seems determined to carry out a third Bush term...
  • The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity — she doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society. We have to break through it. And what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little bit less like that, and that's pretty powerful stuff.
  • You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
  • Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare up because I said something that everybody knows is true which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois who are bitter. They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they're going through. So I said well you know when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country or they get frustrated about you know how things are changing. That's a natural response. And now I didn't say it as well as I should have because you know the truth is is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation those are important. That's what sustains us. But what is absolutely true is that people don't feel like they are being listened to. And so they pray and they count on each other and they count on their families. You know this in your own lives and what we need is a government that is actually paying attention. Government that is fighting for working people day in and day out making sure that we are trying to allow them to live out the American dream. And that's what this campaign is about. We've got to get past the divisions. We've got to get past the distractions of our politics and fight for each other. That is why I am running for president of the United States. And I think we've got an opportunity to bring about that change right here and right now. But I'm gonna need your help Indiana. I'm gonna need your help.
  • Gibson: And in each instance, when the [capital gains tax] rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
    Obama: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
  • I’ve known Reverend Wright for almost twenty years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met twenty years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs and if Reverend Wright thinks that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, well I may not know him as well as I thought either.
  • Over the last fifteen months we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in fifty...seven states... I think one left to go. One left to go — Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to, even though I really wanted to visit — but my staff would not justify it.
  • Now I know that if you listen to Washington or pay attention to the pundits, you hear a lot about how divided we are as a people. But that's not what I've found as I've traveled across this great country.
    Everywhere I go, I've been impressed by the values and hopes that we share. In big cities and small towns; among men and women; young and old; black, white, and brown — Americans share a faith in simple dreams.
  • Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, `We're going to wipe you off the planet."
  • You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits, but I hope you don't. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although I believe you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, although I do believe you have that debt. It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition.
  • I am reminded every day of my life, if not by events, then by my wife, that I am not a perfect man.
    • Speech in Mitchell, South Dakota; (1 June 2008)
  • I honor — we honor — the service of John McCain, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.
  • You know in your hearts that at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say — let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.
    • Speech following the Minnesota primary (3 June 2008)
  • The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
  • I was a little puzzled by the frenzy that I set off by what I thought was a pretty innocuous statement, which is that I am absolutely committed to ending the war. I'm not trying to dump on you guys, but I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything that I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago, or when I was a U.S. senator. If you look at our position, it's been very consistent. The notion that we have to get out carefully has been a consistent position. ... I think what's happened is that the McCain campaign primed the pump with the press to suggest that somehow we were changing our policy when we hadn't and that just hasn't been the case. I've given no indication of a change in policy ... I think John McCain's going to have a much harder time explaining how he is willing to perpetuate a presence in Iraq for 10, 20, 50 years.
  • Nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they are going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know he — oh, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all of those other presidents on those dollar bills.
    • Campaign rally in Springfield, Missouri, July 30, 2008 [5]
  • I remain skeptical that new offshore drilling will bring down gas prices in the short-term or significantly reduce our oil dependence in the long-term, though I do welcome the establishment of a process that will allow us to make future drilling decisions based on science and fact. But I've always believed that finding consensus will be essential to solving our energy crisis and today's package represents a good faith effort at a new bipartisan beginning.
  • My interest is in making sure we‘ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well-thought out oil strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage. I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done.
  • So, now the Republicans are going around — this is the kind of thing they do. I don't understand it. They are going around. They're sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea, as if this is Barack Obama's energy plan. Now, two points. One, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is. But the other thing is, they are making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 percent to 4 percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant, you know? I mean, they think it's funny that they're making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework, because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference.
  • People ask me... "What do you still bring from Hawaii? How does it affect your character, how does it affect your politics?" I try to explain to them something about the Aloha Spirit. I try to explain to them this basic idea that we all have obligations to each other, that we're not alone, that if we see somebody who's in need we should help... that we look out for one another, that we deal with each other with courtesy and respect, and most importantly, that when you come from Hawaii, you start understanding that what's on the surface, what people look like — that doesn't determine who they are.
    And that the power and strength of diversity, the ability of people from everywhere ... whether they're black or white, whether they're Japanese-Americans or Korean-Americans or Filipino-Americans or whatever they are, they are just Americans, that all of us can work together and all of us can join together to create a better country.
    And it's that spirit, that I'm absolutely convinced, is what America is looking for right now.
    Because we've been divided for so long, we've been arguing for so long, a lot of times about things that aren't even worth arguing about, and ignoring the things that we should be doing to make the next generation have a better life — that I think people are hungry for a new politics, they're hungry for change, and that's why I decided to run for President of the United States.
  • Well, I think that you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective. Answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something that obviously the country wrestles with.
  • Tim Kaine has a message of fiscal responsibility and generosity of spirit. That kind of message can sell anywhere.
    • About Virginia governor Tom Kaine, a possible VP candidate [6]
  • By the way, I've been called worse on the basketball court. Its not a big deal.
    • Response to remarks by Alaska governor Sarah Palin (4 September)]
  • It is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it's an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the United States.
    It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades.
    And we can do it, but we're going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we've got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well.
    And that's why we've got to make some investments and I've called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal.
  • So we pulled up to this diner, where people told us that we could get some good pie. And I like pie. Do you like pie too? So, we go in there, and we say, "Oh, what kind of pie you got?' And they didn't have sweet potato pie, they didn't have pumpkin pie. They had some cream pies mostly, which is OK with me. So, I got some coconut cream pie. And Governor Strickland, he got lemon meringue pie.
    So while we're waiting for our pie, the staff come and they want to take a picture with me because they say, you know, the owner of this dinner is a staunch die-hard Republican, so we want to kind of tease him a little bit by getting this picture with you. So we're taking this picture and suddenly the owner comes out with the pie. And he looks at me and I say, "Sir, I understand that you are a die-hard Republican." He says, "That's right." I said, "How's business?" He said, "Not so good." He said, "My customer, they can't afford to eat out anymore." I said, "Who's been in charge of the economy for the last eight years?" He said, "Republicans." I said, "You know, if you kept on hitting your head against a wall over and over again and it started to hurt, at some point would you stop hitting your head against the wall?" He said, "You've got a point."
  • It is true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest Americans and go back to the rate that they paid under Bill Clinton. John McCain calls that socialism. What he forgets, conveniently, is that just a few years ago, he himself said those Bush tax cuts were irresponsible. He said he couldn't in good conscience support tax cuts where the benefit went to the wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans who most need the tax relief. That's his quote. Well, he was right then, and I am right now.
  • What Senator McCain has lately been suggesting is that somehow I'm going to take money from people making over $250,000, and give it to people who "pay no taxes". What he's confusing is the fact that even if you don't pay income tax, there are a lot of people who don't pay income tax, but you're still paying a whole lot of other taxes. You're paying payroll tax, which is a huge burden on a lot of middle-income families. You're paying sales taxes. You're paying property taxes. There are a whole host of taxes that you're paying. So when we provide an offset to the waitress or the janitor, these folks are working. This isn't some giveaway to people who are on welfare. This is giving help to people who are working hard every day.
  • She was somebody who was a very humble person and a very plain spoken person. She's one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America ... They're not famous, their names aren't in the newspapers. But, each and every day, they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing. And in this crowd, there are a lot of quiet heroes like that—mothers and fathers, grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives, and the satisfaction that they get is seeing that their children and maybe their grandchildren or their great-children live a better life than they did. And that's what America is about. That's what we're fighting for. And North Carolina, with just one more day, we have the opportunity to honor all of those quiet heroes all across America and all across North Carolina. We can bring change to America to make sure that their work and their sacrifice is honored. That's what we're fighting for.
    • Obama speaking about his grandmother Madelyn Dunham at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina (3 November 2008)
  • The truth is that, promoting science isn't just about providing resources, it's about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It's about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it's inconvenient, especially when it's inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States, and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.

Election victory speech

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

2009

  • So we have a choice to make. We can once again let Washington's bad habits stand in the way of progress. Or we can pull together and say that in America, our destiny isn't written for us but by us. We can place good ideas ahead of old ideological battles, and a sense of purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We can act boldly to turn crisis into opportunity and, together, write the next great chapter in our history and meet the test of our time.
  • Then you get the argument, "Well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill." What do you think a stimulus is? That's the whole point! No, seriously, that's the point!
  • If you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.
    • Interview with Laura Haim, Canal Plus, France.[7], White House Library (1 June 2009)
  • Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more. In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.
  • I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.
    To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize — men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
    But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
    • Remarks by the President on winning the Nobel Peace Prize" (9 October 2009)
  • Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it's about the courageous efforts of people around the world.
    • Remarks by the President on winning the Nobel Peace Prize" (9 October 2009)
  • Now, what I do reject is when folks just sit on the sidelines and they're rooting for failure — whether it's on health care or energy or the economy — or the Olympics. [..] What I reject is when scoring political points is so important that you'd rather see failure. What I reject is when some folks want to go to the policies that helped get us into this mess in the first place — as if we don't remember. [..] We don't mind cleaning up the mess that was left for us. We're busy, we got our mops, we're, you know, mopping the floor here. But I don't want the folks who made the mess to just sit there and say, you're not mopping fast enough. I don't — I don't want them saying, you're not holding the mop the right way, or, that's a socialist mop. I want them to grab a mop. Grab a mop. Grab a mop — or a broom or something. Make yourself useful.
  • As America’s first Pacific president, I promise you that this Pacific nation will strengthen and sustain our leadership in this vitally important part of the world.
    • Tokyo, Japan, November 13, 2009. [9]

Inaugural Address (2009)

Washington D.C. (20 January 2009) - Full text at Wikisource
  • Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.
    They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
    On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
  • We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
  • In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
  • Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
  • We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
  • Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
  • What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
  • As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
  • Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
  • We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
    For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
  • To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
  • We can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
  • As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
    We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
    For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
  • Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.
  • With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Speech in Cairo

Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt (4 June 2009), [10]
  • It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed, that's how it is surrendered.
  • Threatening Israel with destruction or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews is deeply wrong and only serves to evoke in the minds of the Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

Town Hall meeting in Shanghai

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

Nobel Prize acceptance speech

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

2010

  • We said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your -- if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.
    • Meeting with House Republicans, January 2010. [11]
  • Let me just make this point, John...We're not campaigning anymore. The election's over.
    • Responding to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the healthcare summit after McCain complained about the proposed healthcare bill, February 25, 2010.

2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Quotes by President Obama relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill which began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • I have not spoken to him directly. Here's the reason. Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me. I'm not interested in words. I'm interested in actions.
  • Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless. So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw. All I can do is make sure that I put honest, hard-working smart people in place ... to implement this thing."

State Of The Union

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

Quotes about Obama

Alphabetized by author
I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man. ~ Joe Biden
People don't come to Obama for what he's done in the Senate. They come because of what they hope he could be. ~ Bruce Reed
Obama's legislative record, speeches, and the way he has run his campaign reveal, I think, a very even temperament, a very sound judgment, and an intelligent pragmatism. ~ Andrew Sullivan
It felt like a new day. ~ Oprah Winfrey
  • Americans still admire dignity. But the word has become unmoored from any larger set of rules or ethical system.
    But it’s not right to end on a note of cultural pessimism because there is the fact of President Obama. Whatever policy differences people may have with him, we can all agree that he exemplifies reticence, dispassion and the other traits associated with dignity. The cultural effects of his presidency are not yet clear, but they may surpass his policy impact. He may revitalize the concept of dignity for a new generation and embody a new set of rules for self-mastery.
  • President Obama is so much smarter and a better communicator than members of Congress in either party. The contrast, side by side, is almost ridiculous.
  • A gift for reading from a teleprompter is not the same as leadership.
  • So when black Americans refer to Obama as "one of us," I do not know what they are talking about. In his new book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama makes it clear that, while he has experienced some light versions of typical racial stereotypes, he cannot claim those problems as his own — nor has he lived the life of a black American.
  • Barack Obama has way way way overdone religion. He's trying to overcome the false notion that he has some sort of sympathy with Islam, and therefore he is more Christian than the Christians.
  • On the ground of the fight against international terrorism, we'll see Obama being put to the test, because this is the real one. America is the reference democracy for those who want to affirm the value of freedom, put at risk by fundamentalism and islamic terrorism. There are many doubts pending on Obama; with Obama at the White House, perhaps Al Qaeda is happier.
  • Original Italian: Sul piano della lotta al terrorismo internazionale, dovremo vedere Obama alla prova, perché questo è il vero banco di prova. L'America è la democrazia di riferimento per quanti vogliano affermare i valori della libertà, minacciati dal fondamentalismo, dal terrorismo islamico. Su Obama gravano molti interrogativi; con Obama alla Casa Bianca Al Qaeda forse è più contenta.
  • I think the problem Barack Obama would have is, first of all, he's never run a city, never run a state, never run a business. I don't think, at a time when America's at war, with the major problems that we face, we're going to want someone to get on-the-job experience as the chief executive, never having had that kind of experience. [...] He really doesn't have the experience either from the national security point of view or even from just the executive point of view.
  • This president is a real slow learner.
  • Barack Obama loves to get attached from the Left on being too moderate on the War on Terrorism. And there have been other things, too, where he's tried to make signals to the middle, saying, “I'm a free trader,” and saying he might cut corporate taxes, saying he might delay some of those tax increases on the wealthy. All of that is aimed on telling swing voters: You cannot put Obama in a far left box or paint him as a rigid ideologue. That shows the difficulty John McCain is going to have making that argument that Steve Schmidt offered — making it stick.
    • John Harwood of The New York Times, on the McCain attempt to paint Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate; June 26, 2008; [19]
  • With health reform and the so-called “public option” reportedly on life support (although some activists strongly disagree with that prognosis), and the increasingly unpopular Afghanistan war on the verge of yet another escalation, many progressives and Democrats are frustrated, angry, or simply scratching their heads in disbelief. The Obama they thought they elected is not meeting their expectations.
  • Unjustified war and unconstitutional abridgment of individual rights, versus ill-conceived tax and economic policies — this is the difference between venial and mortal sins. John McCain would continue the Bush administration's commitment to interventionism and constitutional over-reach. Obama promises a humbler engagement with our allies, while promising retaliation against any enemy who dares attack us. ... Based on his embrace of centrist advisers and policies, it seems likely that Obama will turn out to be in the mold of John Kennedy, who was fond of noting that "a rising tide lifts all boats." ... Even if my hopes on domestic policy are dashed and Obama reveals himself as an unreconstructed, dyed-in-the-wool, big government liberal, I'm still voting for him.
  • Indeed, Barack Obama has exceptional qualities and deserves kudos for his achievement. He is genteel, articulate, poised and charming. He is a Harvard-educated lawyer, yet he remains accessible to the common man. He has been married since 1992, has two lovely daughters and is by all accounts a devoted family man. He is a pious Christian and a member of the United Church of Christ. He has virtually sky-rocketed into the national spotlight-winning a landslide victory in his Senate race in 2004; he became the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the only current African American Senator. His fame has been enhanced by the publication of two-bestsellers, Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). He now trails only behind Hillary in his bid to secure the nomination of his party. And he has done all of this even before he celebrates his forty-sixth birthday later this summer.
  • He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do. He would never be satisfied with what ordinary people do.
  • I don't know how you can take a vote out of context. It's a vote.
    • Late-term abortion survivor Gianna Jessen, responding to an Obama campaign ad saying his votes against the Born Alive Infant Act were presented out of context by the McCain campaign. (Sept. 22, 2008)[20]
  • He reminds me of a chess grandmaster who has played his opening in six simultaneous games. But he hasn’t completed a single game and I’d like to see him finish one.
  • [Obama] once got in trouble for making faces during Koran study classes in his elementary school, but a president is less likely to stereotype Muslims as fanatics — and more likely to be aware of their nationalism — if he once studied the Koran with them.
  • What [Obama] is talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work. So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, "Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails."
    • Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show four days before Barack Obama's inauguration [22] (16 January 2009)
  • Senator Obama made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. It seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.
    • McCain campaign ad (July 2008)
  • There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American.
  • Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
    For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."
  • That is why when I heard Obama’s two speeches I was struck by how much he spoke in accord with the spirit of Vatican II. In those two addresses, as well as in his other speeches, he called for civility, for the end of name-calling, and for a willingness to work together to deal with our common problems, including abortion, rather than a stand-off determination to impose one’s principles without reckoning what the cost to the common good might be.
    • John W. O'Malley, America: the national Catholic weekly, May 25, 2009 [25]
  • This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot — what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger.
  • By contrast, Obama’s appeal for a new paradigm that relies on the enthusiasm of young voters and the patriotism of rank-and-file Americans to leap past the stale politics of the Clinton and Bush years makes some sense. Given Obama’s relatively thin résumé, his candidacy may require a leap of faith. But it is at least a leap toward something new and untested, rather than something old and failed.
  • Barack spoke out against the war [in Iraq] before it started, and he respects civil liberties, and I respect him for that. [...] But Barack Obama is not going to talk about the goal of getting rid of the income tax and dealing with monetary policy. I mean, he's too much into the welfare state issue, not quite understanding how free market economics is the truly compassionate system. If we care about the poor and want to help the poor, you have to have free markets. You can't have a welfare state in order to try to take care of people.
  • I am strongly encouraged by Senator Obama's speech [27] on America's energy future. Foreign oil is killing our economy and putting our nation at risk. ... This issue is clearly moving up in the priority of political debate; Senator Obama's statement is an indication that is what is indeed happening.
    • Oilman and former swiftboater T. Boone Pickens, on Obama's energy policy; August 4, 2008; [28]
  • [Obama] is a community organizer like Jesus was, and now we’re a community and he can organize us.
  • If Barack Obama was a state he'd be California. I mean, think about it: diverse, open, smart, independent, oppose tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader.
  • This isn't just some phenomenon of the Internet — to liken Barack Obama to the flash-in-the-pan Dean campaign does him a disservice. There is something happening with this guy, and I don't think he should be given short shrift.
  • Obama's legislative record, speeches, and the way he has run his campaign reveal, I think, a very even temperament, a very sound judgment, and an intelligent pragmatism. Prudence is a word that is not inappropriate to him.
  • It felt like a new day.
    • Oprah Winfrey on Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic convention, in "Man of the Moment" at Oprah.com (19 January 2005)

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