Professor David Kennedy: “We remain a young nation,” Barack Obama said in 2009, but he added an unsettling admonition that “in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.” No passage in his Inaugural Address more vividly reflected the President’s vision of his country and his times or more accurately foreshadowed the vexations that were to beset his leadership.
Like FDR before him, Obama, 49, has looked beyond the near horizon. He has paid the political price of setting far-visioned initiatives on health care and financial reform ahead of short-term relief. And he has tried to persuade his countrymen to shed some of their youthful illusions: to forsake the frontiersman’s faith in unbridled individualism for a recognition of the complex interdependencies of modern life, to replace the rebel’s fear of government with the citizen’s trust that government of the people and by the people is for the people too, to stop assuming that Santa Claus will give us cheap energy forever and the Easter Bunny will pay our bills. Whatever the near term holds, history is likely to record that Obama set the country on the path to a future with fewer illusions.
Kennedy is a professor of history at Stanford University
Rahm Emanuel: The partnership between any President and Vice President is like a shotgun wedding: Sometimes it works well. Most of the time, it does not. But the relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden is as successful a public partnership as I have ever seen.
They began as rival politicians who merged to form a ticket, which is not a prescription for harmony and close cooperation. But in my two years in the White House, I saw these onetime rivals become solid allies and then close friends. I saw a deep bond of trust grow between them, forged in a crucible of crisis.
Biden, 68, has been a wise counselor – unfailingly frank with the President behind closed doors and unwaveringly loyal on the public stage.
With 36 years of experience in the U.S. Senate and a wealth of relationships and insight, Biden has been an invaluable lieutenant on a wide variety of issues. And the President has trusted him with some of the most critical assignments, from the $787 billion Recovery Act to the transition in Iraq.
This is one shotgun wedding that works.
Jamie Oliver: Declaring herself “first mom,” Michelle Obama got right to work on the defining issues of her children’s generation: obesity and improving the health of America’s kids.
Her Let’s Move campaign put obesity in the headlines in part because Americans under 25 are the first generation expected to live shorter lives than their parents because of diet-related illnesses. But Obama, 47, urged people to get up and do something. She convinced her husband to establish America’s first Childhood Obesity Task Force…..
She’s encouraging mayors around the country to embrace obesity-prevention programs. And perhaps most incredibly, she’s had frank and challenging dialogues with some of America’s largest corporations and persuaded them to change their business practices for the sake of the children.
While she knows none of these changes are easy, she’s stood firm in her conviction that if we all just eat better and move more, then we can fight obesity. For her inspirational work, I salute First Lady Michelle Obama – a true revolutionary.
President Obama: The violence in Tucson earlier this year was made all the more shocking by the quintessentially American scene that it shattered: folks of different backgrounds yet part of the same community gathering to share their hopes and ask questions of their elected representative. To put it simply, they came to do the daily work of democracy.
Before that morning, Gabrielle Giffords may not have been a household name. But the reason she has long been admired by people of all political stripes is that she embodies the best of what public service should be: hard work and fair play, hope and resilience, a willingness to listen and a determination to do your best in a busy world. As hard a battle as Giffords, 40, now fights every day, she’s got a strong partner in her husband Mark Kelly, who visits her daily while training to command the space shuttle Endeavour. And she’s got the prayers of a nation rooting for her, a model of civility and courage and unity — a needed voice that cannot return soon enough.
Thank you Tommy