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The memory of history
- 2008 to 2012: Victory words of a younger and a greyer Obama

HOPE

2008

This is our moment. This is our time … 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 doubt, 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.

2012

… I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

Did you hear? A more pragmatic Obama, aware of the hard negotiations that lie ahead with the same divisions that marked his first term.

LEST WE FORGET

2008

When the bombs fell on our (Pearl) harbor and tyranny threatened the world… a generation (rose) to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes, we can.

2012

I’ve seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back…. I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.

Did you hear? From Pearl Harbor then to Osama bin Laden and Hurricane Sandy now. An Obama who acted presidential without tactlessly saying so.

 

CONSENSUS HUNT

2008

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President…. Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

2012

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts.

It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.

Did you hear? ‘False starts’ have given way to ‘fits and starts’. Is Obama finally realising the importance of deal-making in Washington, to which he remained an outsider in the first term?

THE LOSER

2008

I just received a very gracious call from senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves.... I congratulate him and governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

2012

I just spoke with governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honour and applaud tonight.

In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

Did you hear? A rueful Obama who could not build bipartisan bridges in the first term and is now staring at a deeply divided political landscape.

THE WORLD AT LARGE

2008

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world — our stories are singular but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this 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.

2012

We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today…. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this... this world has ever known.

Did you hear? An Obama who has made an indirect reference to the Arab Spring. An Obama who wants to say: “Folks, I have enough troubles in my backyard. If you don’t mess with us, we also won’t mess with you.”

JOB AT HAND

2008

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers — in this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.

2012

You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

Did you hear? An Obama who accepts he was not able to create enough jobs.

FACE OF THE SPEECH

2008

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing — Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

…And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes, we can.

2012

And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father (Kevin Potter) told the story of his 8-year-old daughter (Erin Potter), whose long battle with leukaemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care. I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your President.

Did you hear? An Obama who considers “Obamacare” as the defining achievement of his first presidency and a focal point in the new term.

GRATITUDE

2008

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke... for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice-President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

2012

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best Vice-President anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.

Did you hear? An Obama who may have meant: “Thanks, my happy warrior, for giving ’em a bloody nose and keeping my hands clean.”

2008

Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.

2012

Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re going up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough.

Did you see? Sasha drawing his attention to the cheering crowd behind Obama that the President had initially overlooked. Come on Papa President, she deserves another puppy to give Bo company.

2008

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to — it belongs to you (his supporters).

2012

But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the life-long appreciation of a grateful President. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley.

Did you realise? Not every day do we hear better words of gratitude. Cherish the memory of history.

 
 
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