President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama react to daughter Sasha’s hole in one while playing miniature golf at Pirate’s Island Golf in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama casts his line while fishing for trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama, center, and his fishing party head for the water during his first fly fishing outing near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama and local fishing guide Dan Vermillion fish for trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug.14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
Local fishing guide Dan Vermillion reacts as President Barack Obama almost hooks a trout on the East Gallatin River near Belgrade, Mont., on Aug. 14, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
10:00AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
11:00AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden hold a bilateral meeting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
12:30PM: President Obama and Vice President Biden have lunch in the Private Dining Room
12:30PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest
3:15PM: President Obama views White House Demo Day exhibits
3:40PM: President Obama delivers remarks at the White House Demo Day
4:25PM: President Obama meets with American Jewish community leaders to discuss the Iran nuclear deal (he also did this in April, following the announcement of the Lausanne framework)
President Barack Obama watches the flame on the candle as he walks to the Brady Briefing Room to present cupcakes to Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas in honor of her birthday, Aug. 4, 2009. Thomas, who turned 89, shares the same birthday as the President, who turned 48. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama, with daughter Sasha, looks at the card given to him during a birthday party with his staff in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on Aug. 4, 2009. Daughter Malia and First Lady Michelle Obama look on at left. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama meets with advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 4, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama holds the birthday card given to him during a group photo with interns on the South Portico of the White House. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama presents cupcakes with a candle to Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas in honor of her birthday in the James Brady Briefing Room, on Aug. 4, 2009. Thomas, who turned 89, shares the same birthday as the President, who turned 48. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama jokingly points out cake crumbs that Vice President Joe Biden dropped on the floor in the Oval Office following a birthday celebration for the President on Aug. 4, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama tries out the fly fishing rod given to him on his birthday by a group of avid fisherman on his staff, on Aug. 4, 2009. Photo by Pete Souza
Margaret Talev: Why Joe Biden Wanted Barack Obama to Deliver His Son’s Eulogy
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama went through the fires together: two presidential campaigns, economic collapse, war, terrorism, destabilization of the Arab world and societal change that spawned the Tea Party and gay marriage waves simultaneously. But aides say it is the men’s shared experience with personal grief, and an unexpected bonding of their wives, daughters and grandchildren, more than their tests as officeholders, that have turned a political partnership between two men separated by race, age and temperament into a deep, if mostly unsung, friendship.
That’s a dynamic many Americans will see on Saturday, when Obama delivers the eulogy for Biden’s son Beau, a husband, father, veteran and rising political star who seemed destined to carry on his father’s legacy before his death from brain cancer on May 30 at age 46. Obama called Biden on the night Beau died. By the time the call ended, he had been tasked with a humbling assignment: To say the final words about Beau that the vice president and his wife Jill are too grief-stricken to utter. “The president . . . has this reputation for being cold or distant—but he isn’t,” Klain said. “For the people in his orbit, the people he has a chance to get to know, he has a real sense of family” and the Bidens “are part of that. I think it’s a loss that he feels personally.” Biden wanted Obama to deliver the eulogy because he felt that Obama would know instinctively what the family would want others to know about Beau.
Earlier this year, on St. Patrick’s Day, Biden addressed a group in Pennsylvania and recounted how he had felt when researchers discovered that his own great-great grandfather and Obama’s great-great-great grandfather each had been shoemakers in Ireland who emigrated within five weeks of one another. “I thought to myself, isn’t that the Irish of it,” Biden said. “All their dreams, could they ever [have] dreamed 160 years later, two shoemakers’ great, great grandsons would be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States of America.”
Dr. Jill Biden comforts Vice President Joe Biden during a viewing for their son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden at Legislative Hall in Dover, Delaware. Standing with Dr. Biden are Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie, and granddaughter Natalie
An honor guard carries the casket containing the remains of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden
Vice President Joe Biden comforts Beau Biden’s wife, Hallie Biden
Vice President Joe Biden comforts his granddaughter Natalie
Vice President Joe Biden lays his hand on his son’s casket
Various TODers have done such a good job remembering 2014’s highlights that I feel no need to add to that. So allow me to pen a tribute.
And the tribute is to all of you.
I’ve had many homes online since the long ago days of the 90s. (And you’d be shocked at some of the places I called “home”. I’ll leave that to your imaginations.)
I thought DailyKos would be my political home in the darkness of the Bush regime. But after Barack Obama’s election, it was soon apparent that rage was all Markos trafficked in. Rage at Mr. Bush for destroying the country. Rage at Pres. Obama for not magically making everything right. And as I’ve written before, rage gets tiring, and rage fixes nothing. Rage is the cheap drug which keeps you sated for a bit. But you have to increase the dosage every time to get the same high, until your mind is addled and clear thought is banished.
I first found BWD, and her site was wonderful. But it was shortlived, as people as lofty as Glenn Greenwald called her a Leni Riefenstahl for daring to defend a just-elected president who had barely gotten his feet in the door. I don’t blame her for saying “fuck it” and sticking to Twitter.
Many of us found our way here by the same path, from DKos and BWD’s blog. It took me a while to start posting. I observed for a while. But you magnificent bastards pulled me in, and suddenly I realized that I had found like minds. It’s thrilling when one finds a group of people who have the same general outlook on life. Not just about politics, but on how to live one’s life, in kindness, consideration, and empathy. It was something I’d been looking for for a long time, never finding it. It was, quite simply, revelatory.
And as I spent more time here, the more I came to consider this an extended family. From Mama Chips to little sister Nerdy to crazy uncle amk to wise uncle Bob, I could share my troubles, my joys, my frustrations. We all could. We knew when someone was sick, or soul-hurt, or ecstatic. Donna’s grandbabies, Chips’ Danny, Carolyn’s husband’s medical issues: we knew them all, sorrowed, commiserated, or grew joyful, shared in the highs and lows. And there just aren’t that many places where one can say that online. Definitely not on a blog ostensibly dedicated to politics.
But that’s the thing; sure this is “The Obama Diary”, but it’s become more than just about this president or his policies. The blog embodies his humanity, his empathy, his genuine concern. We have become a family in large part because a man like Barack Obama attracts a certain type of person. He speaks to the quintessentially human, to the genuinely kind. And because we support him, for the most part we take after him. But if we weren’t already on that path, we wouldn’t be here.
January 1 starts a new year, and new battles. But, for now, sit, quietly, and wonder at the different points which brought us here. This little community, where injustice is condemned, where good is sought. This little community which is only as strong as its weakest member, and cherishes that member. This little family.
I thank you all. I’d be lost without this place. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015.
On Thursday, the cast of the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” was told that a “high-level official” would be coming to the show the next night. Who could it be? Kathleen Sebelius had just resigned—maybe she had more time for theatregoing? Word got out on Friday afternoon: the Obamas were coming to Broadway. By seven o’clock that night, Forty-Seventh Street had been partitioned off, and the Barrymore Theatre was swarming with security guys—not an unwelcome sight, after the Times reported that Broadway has had a tough time attracting men. This was not Obama’s first act of Presidential playgoing. In 2009, he and Michelle went on a date night to August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” and the First Lady has brought her daughters to “Memphis” and “The Addams Family.” “A Raisin in the Sun” was more than a safe choice: it was an undeniably poignant one. It premièred in 1959, and made Lorraine Hansberry the first African-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. The story follows a black family in Chicago preparing to move into a big, fancy house, despite resistance from their conservative white neighbors. (Sound familiar?) And its themes are as lofty and as loaded as Obama’s: upward mobility, the pain of progress, and, as Sarah Palin might put it (though Hansberry certainly did not), “that hopey, changey stuff.”
The lights went down, and the door to the street swung open. A stream of people, including the President, the First Lady (in black), and Valerie Jarrett, snaked through to the back of the house and then down the aisle. Ignoring the announcer’s pleas, the audience leaped to its feet—this usually happens at the end of the show—and camera flashes twinkled in the darkened theatre. The Obamas shook some hands and took their seats. It’s not often that a single member of the audience commands more attention than the action onstage, and in the initial minutes there was a jittery energy that distracted from the story. Denzel Washington got his usual entrance applause (and a few catcalls from the balcony). If it took a while to buy him as Walter Lee Younger, it wasn’t because Washington is twenty-four years older than his character: Obama’s Obama-ness somehow increased Denzel’s Denzel-ness. At intermission, the Obamas went backstage to meet the cast, as patrons flooded the bar.
Act Two was sprinkled with unspoken moments of meta-theatre. When Walter asks his son, Travis, what he wants to be when he grows up, the boy says, “Bus driver.” His father urges him to dream bigger, and the words “President of the United States” seemed to waft in the air momentarily. In the end, the Youngers take the house, defying the enmity of the “welcoming committee.” They are the change they’ve been waiting for. At the curtain call, the Obamas joined the audience in a standing ovation, and Denzel Washington tipped his fedora to the President, flashing his matinee-idol grin. Scott Rudin, the powerhouse producer, said, “I pretty much cried the whole time.” Bryce Clyde Jenkins, the thirteen-year-old who plays Travis Younger, was still beaming. “I was in school at 11:08 when my teacher, Miss Bernadette, pulled it up on the computer that the First Lady and the President were coming to the performance tonight,” he said. “I kind of jumped for joy inside myself.” Did he find it hard to concentrate onstage? “No,” Jenkins said. “We have a responsibility to the people who are in the show and the Obamas to put on a good show and treat them like they’re our last audience.”
President Obama comforts a relative of one of the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shootings at a memorial service at Marine Barracks, Washington
Secretary Hagel, Secretary Mabus, Admirals Greenert and Hilarides, Mayor Gray, leaders from across this city and our Armed Forces, to all the outstanding first responders, and, most of all, the families whose hearts have been broken — we cannot begin to comprehend your loss. We know that no words we offer today are equal to the magnitude, to the depths of that loss. But we come together as a grateful nation to honor your loved ones, to grieve with you, and to offer, as best we can, some solace and comfort.
On the night that we lost Martin Luther King Jr. to a gunman’s bullet, Robert Kennedy stood before a stunned and angry crowd in Indianapolis and he broke the terrible news. And in the anguish of that moment, he turned to the words of an ancient Greek poet, Aeschylus: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” Pain which cannot forget — drop by drop upon the heart.
The tragedy and the pain that brings us here today is extraordinary. It is unique. The lives that were taken from us were unique. The memories their loved ones carry are unique, and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone. But part of what wears on as well is the sense that this has happened before. Part of what wears on us, what troubles us so deeply as we gather here today, is how this senseless violence that took place in the Navy Yard echoes other recent tragedies.
As President, I have now grieved with five American communities ripped apart by mass violence. Fort Hood. Tucson. Aurora. Sandy Hook. And now, the Washington Navy Yard. And these mass shootings occur against a backdrop of daily tragedies, as an epidemic of gun violence tears apart communities across America — from the streets of Chicago to neighborhoods not far from here.
And so, once again, we remember our fellow Americans who were just going about their day doing their jobs, doing what they loved — in this case, the unheralded work that keeps our country strong and our Navy the finest fleet in the world. These patriots doing their work that they were so proud of, and who have now been taken away from us by unspeakable violence.