Renew efforts at reconciliation, emotional Obama urges Americans during his farewell speech

Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn’t abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats.

His voice at moments catching with emotion, Obama recounted a presidency that saw setbacks as well as successes. Admitting candidly that political discourse has soured under his watch, Obama demanded that Americans renew efforts at reconciliation.
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy,” the President said. “To embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.”
Obama also stressed solidarity despite a presidency sometimes at odds with Congress.
“Democracy does not require uniformity,” Obama said. “Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
In a concession that, for now, his brand of progressive politics is stalled in Washington, Obama admitted “for every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.”
He implored his backers to be vigilant in protecting basic American values he warned could come under siege.
“Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear,” he said. “So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”
And he warned against turning inward, telling Democrats that only by involving themselves in a real political discourse could they hope to renew the hopeful vision he brought to the White House eight years ago.
“After eight years as your President, I still believe that,” he went on. “And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.”

Obama drops mic at his last White House correspondent’s Dinner

For the final time, President Barack Obama delivered one-liners and laughs at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, lampooning himself, Congress, and his upcoming status as a lame duck.

“Last week Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe,” Obama said. “That was a slap in the face.”

Obama pretended to be wrapping up his remarks with no mention of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“Well let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want to thank the Washington press corps,” Obama said. “The free press is central to our democracy and … nah! I’m just kidding! You know I’m gonna talk about Trump! Come on!,” he said.

“And it is surprising: You’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras — and he says no,” Obama continued.

“Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doing?”

Obama joked about Trump’s foreign policy experience, saying, “There’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”

Obama did not spare Hillary Clinton. He began by apologizing for a delay in a quip that turned on the former Secretary of State.

“I know I was a little late tonight,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “I was running on CPT — which stands for jokes that white people should not make.”

The joke referred to a recent gaffe made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton who spoke about “C.P. time,” a racially insensitive term that stands for “colored people’s time.”

Obama also told the crowd in his opening: “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans.” The new version of the $20 bill will feature escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front.

Obama made a not-so-subtle prediction of his successor.

“Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be,” Obama said.

 Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, was in the crowd. “Bernie, you look like a million bucks,” Obama said. “Or to put it in terms you understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.”

Obama also had fun with his age and looked back at his time in office, reflecting on the message he brought to the White House when he was first elected. “Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific,” Obama said.

“Eight years ago I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor,” Obama said. “And look at me now: I am grey and grizzled, and just counting down the days ’till my death panel.”

Obama ended his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner with a sincere thank you to the press corps.

“I just have two more words to say,” the president said. “Obama out.”