Tag Archives: White House

What Will the Obamas Do in 2017?

Today’s been a bit hectic. I rode the bus from downtown Ottawa to get to the airport. The “hectic-ness” stems from the fact that it was quite snowy outside. The visibility was quite poor and I was sure my flight would be delayed (it wasn’t). Right now, I’m sitting in the Toronto Island Airport (not the much more known Toronto Airport, which is actually almost in Mississauga) and waiting for my next flight.

In amongst my travels today, I had the chance to see Pres. Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial. I knew that it was today, but I also knew I wouldn’t have much time to watch it today. As I was getting ready to board the bus in Ottawa, I saw some folks on Twitter talking about this being one of Obama’s best speeches yet. He’s certainly delivered some doozies in his time, so I wondered if the rhetoric was hyperbole. As it turns out — it’s not. I buffered the speech and watched it at 30,000 feet. It was… awesome. And I don’t mean awesome in the way that the word has been co-opted to mean as a form of slang. The speech was awesome.

There were so many great portions of the speech that I’d be hear all day if I were excerpting. One part in particular I wanted to highlight:

The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important.

Essentially, we’re not finished, yet. We’ve still got work to do. (If you want to watch video of the speech, this is all I could find with airport WiFi.)

Update: as expected, there’s a YouTube video of the speech.

Pres. Obama is the 44th President of the United States, so he belongs to a unique club of people. No doubt, history will remember him. However, he’s also one of the youngest presidents in a time in history where people are living longer than ever. As a result, I’m infinitely curious as to what the Obamas will do post-White House. For instance, look at Bill and Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton went on to be a United States Senator and then the Secretary of the State (and maybe one day, President). Bill (along with Hillary) created a foundation and have been effecting change the world over.

There are probably an infinite number of things that the Obamas could get into, but I wonder which issue excites them the most. That is, where do they want to leave their mark on history. Given the way that Pres. Obama speaks about equality, social justice, and social rights, it seems like a natural fit for him.

Of course, the Obamas probably aren’t thinking about that right now, but that time is not too far away for them. We’re almost finished with 2013 and the 2014 midterm elections aren’t even a year away. After that, it’s essentially “open season” on candidates announcing their intentions to run for President.

If You Want Something, You’ve Got to Reach Out and Take It

Several months ago when I was still a student at George Mason, I was sitting in one of the coffeehouses on campus. Well, actually, it was the Starbucks. I differentiate Starbucks from coffeehouses because I know that some folks don’t necessarily see Starbucks as a coffeehouse anymore. Nonetheless, I was sitting in Starbucks, probably writing a post. In fact, I think it may have even been a Monday and I was working on a post for the list of biases in judgment and decision-making. Anyway, not entirely relevant.

As I was sitting there, I noticed a stranger ask a table of two if he could use one of their computers to charge his phone (they didn’t have their computers out). Invariably, I knew he was going to make his way to me and ask if he could use my laptop to charge his phone (he happened to have his USB charger, but not a charger that plugged into the wall). When both of the girls declined and he turned to me to ask if I’d be okay with it, thoughts of espionage raced through my mind. I think this was about the time that I had just spend a weekend watching a number of episodes from Alias, so “spy-stuff” was on my mind. Eventually, I caved and let him use my laptop to charge his phone.

As his phone was charging and he was waiting for his ride to arrive, we chatted briefly. I don’t remember how we got onto the subject of politics, but we did. He told me that he’d written a couple of books of poetry and sent them to the White House — to President Barack Obama. He also had written one to former President Clinton. I was quite shocked that he had been so bold as to send books of poetry to the 44th and the 42nd presidents of the United States. In fact, he even gave me a signed copy of the one he sent to Pres. Obama. More than that, he received responses from both of the presidents. In an updated edition of the book he sent to Pres. Obama, he had a picture of the letter he received from Pres. Obama.

Shortly after this, our conversation ended as his ride arrived. When he left, I got to thinking about the gusto it might have taken to drum up the courage to write a book of poetry and send it off to the President of the United States. Many of us may balk in anxiety at the kind of response we might get (if we even get a response!). Paralyzed by fear, we fail to reach for our dreams. If you want something, you’ve got to reach out and take it. This is exactly what this gentleman was doing. He wanted to write something for the President and he did — and he sent it to him!

I bet there’s something in your life that you’ve been putting on hold. Something that you’ve thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll do that later,’ or ‘I’ll wait to do that until I’m ready.’ I contend that TODAY is that day. Today, you are ready to do the thing you’ve been waiting to do. Don’t wait for your future. Reach out and seize it – today!

The Audacity of Hope: Obama’s Impromptu Speech About Trayvon Martin and Race

This afternoon, President Obama surprised everyone by making an appearance in the White House press briefing room. He spoke for approximately 17 minutes about Trayvon Martin, race, the law, and some other things. Part of the specialness of this speech was that it was impromptu (at least it appeared that it was unplanned) and was unscripted. [I couldn’t embed the video, but you can see it here.]

There were a lot of key things that he addressed in his speech, but what I thought to be the most important was the last few minutes. In the last few minutes, President Obama said that the younger generations are doing it much better than previous generations. The implication here is that the younger generations are less racist (or less unapproving) than previous generations. He talked about how he would listen to Malia and Sasha (his kids) speak with their friends and hear how they interacted. As a result, he thinks that the younger generations are doing it better than the older generations.

As I heard him say that, it made me think about how our countries are governed. Right now, the people who run the country (and by extension, the world) are older. I wonder what it’d be like if we had younger people who ruled the world. Maybe younger people would “get us there faster.” As a way to temper the eagerness of young people, maybe it’d be important to have some people from older generations to be advisors.

I wonder… are there any countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, or towns that are run by “younger” people? Are they more successful? Could we map this onto bigger populations with the same success?

~

For the first 14+ minutes, it seemed like there was an almost sombre tone to President Obama’s remarks. However, as he shifted to talking about the younger generations, I got the sense that he had hope for the future. I got the sense that he had hope for the future of the country because of the progress he sees in younger generations. While nothing is certain about the future nor are the implications, I’d like to think that it’s rather poetic that the leader of the United States believes in a brighter tomorrow. That President Obama believes that we are getting better as a society. As a people. That we are beginning to treat each other with more respect. More love. More kindness. And the hope is that this will continue with each succeeding generation. Hope.