From the White House

President Obama’s Final Press Conference: “I think we’re going to be okay”

President Obama held the final scheduled press conference of his administration yesterday. He spoke of the role of the press, his plans for the future, including when he would speak out, and once again expressed his confidence in our institutions and the peaceful transfer of power.

President Obama on the role of the press:

I have enjoyed working with all of you. That does not, of course, mean that I’ve enjoyed every story that you have filed. But that’s the point of this relationship. You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics. You’re supposed to ask me tough questions. You’re not supposed to be complimentary, but you’re supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here. […]

It goes without saying that essential to [our democracy] is a free press. That is part of how this place, this country, this grand experiment in self-government has to work. It doesn’t work if we don’t have a well-informed citizenry. And you are the conduit through which they receive the information about what’s taking place in the halls of power.

So America needs you, and our democracy needs you. We need you to establish a baseline of facts and evidence that we can use as a starting point for the kind of reasoned and informed debates that ultimately lead to progress. And so my hope is, is that you will continue with the same tenacity that you showed us to do the hard work of getting to the bottom of stories and getting them right, and to push those of us in power to be the best version of ourselves. And to push this country to be the best version of itself.

On when he would break with the tradition of a president not criticizing his successor and speak out:

There’s difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake. I put in that category, if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I’d put in that category, explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I’d put in that category, institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press.

And for me, at least, I would put in that category, efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else when they love this country; they are our kids’ friends and their classmates, and are now entering into community colleges or, in some cases, serving in our military. The notion that we would just arbitrarily, or because of politics, punish those kids when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves I think would be something that would merit me speaking out.

He concludes:

At my core, I think we’re going to be okay. We just have to fight for it. We have to work for it, and not take it for granted.

We all hope he is right.

The Obama White House Archives

As the Dark Times approach, we may need to re-visit the daily doings of the Obama White House: the speeches, the policy initiatives, the joy of watching the First Family living in the house that slaves built and fulfilling the promise of the founding fathers (little did they know what all men would mean!) and the dreams of those who fought and died in the Civil Rights movement. A Democratic White House, celebrating small d democracy, exemplifying decency and honor and respecting the rule of law. Let’s not forget what we had and, after we dry our tears, redouble our efforts to make America decent and honorable again.

The Obama Administration Digital Transition: Moving Forward

Here’s the latest on how you can continue to follow and engage with President Obama, the First Lady, and other Obama White House officials moving forward.

Over the past eight years, the President, the First Lady, and the Obama White House have used social media and technology to engage with people around the country and the world on the most important issues of our time. From the very beginning, our mission has been to reach people on the channels and platforms where they already spend their time. This work began before President Obama took office in 2009, and, now, this work will continue.

As this Administration draws to a close, we wanted to share how you can continue to follow and engage with President Obama, the First Lady, and other Obama White House officials, as well as how you can find content posted over the past eight years after January 20, 2017.

Full post reproduced below.

Final Weekly Address of President Obama – The Honor of Serving You as President

This will the final Weekly Address of President Barack Obama’s Administration. Thank you, President Obama.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

This week, President Obama delivered his final weekly address thanking the American people for making him a better President and a better man. Over the past eight years, we have seen the goodness, resilience, and hope of the American people. We’ve seen what’s possible when we come together in the hard, but vital work of self-government – but we can’t take our democracy for granted. Our success as a Nation depends on our participation. It’s up to all of us to be guardians of our democracy, and to embrace the task of continually trying to improve our Nation. Despite our differences, we all share the same title: Citizen. And that is why President Obama looks forward to working by your side, as a citizen, for all of his remaining days.

President Obama: “I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days”

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech, marking the end of his time in the Oval Office. He will, however, always be Our President.

President Obama:

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can.

Yes, we did. Yes, we can.

Michelle Obama: “Something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.”

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year event in the East Room of the White House last week, a tradition she started in 2015. Her remarks became an emotional farewell and a call to not lose hope.

Michelle Obama:

As I end my time in the White House, I can think of no better message to send our young people in my last official remarks as First Lady. So for all the young people in this room and those who are watching, know that this country belongs to you — to all of you, from every background and walk of life. If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition — the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on earth. […]

And when you encounter obstacles — because I guarantee you, you will, and many of you already have — when you are struggling and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago, something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives, and that is the power of hope — the belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.

It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country. Our hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves, then we can be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may place on us. The hope that when people see us for who we truly are, maybe, just maybe they, too, will be inspired to rise to their best possible selves. […]

That’s my final message to young people as First Lady. It is simple. (Applause.) I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid — you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope, never fear. And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life.

Full transcript it below.

Weekly Address: President Obama’s Farewell Address to the Nation

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama discussed his upcoming farewell address to the nation. In 1796, as George Washington set the precedent for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power, he also set a precedent by penning a farewell address to the American people. And over the 220 years since, many American presidents have followed his lead. Next week, the President will return to his hometown of Chicago to say a grateful farewell to the nation. This will mark the first time that a President has returned to his hometown to deliver such a speech. The President has said that the running thread through his career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together, things change for the better. This belief is at the heart of the American experiment in self-government – and it gives purpose to new generations. Through his address, the President will thank his supporters, celebrate the ways we have changed this country for the better these past eight years, and offer his vision on where we all go from here. The President will deliver his farewell address at 9:00 PM EST on Tuesday, January 10, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. To tune in on Tuesday, visit WhiteHouse.gov/live.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Working Together to Keep America Moving Forward

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama reflected on the significant progress we’ve made since he took office in 2009. Over the past eight years, we’ve turned the recession into recovery; 20 million more Americans have health insurance; we’ve brought 165,000 troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; we took out Osama bin Laden; and we brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save the planet for our kids. The President reminded us that this extraordinary progress wasn’t inevitable – it was the result of tough choices, and the hard work and resilience of the American people. It will take all of us working together to sustain and build on all that we’ve achieved – that’s how we keep America moving forward.

Weekly Address: President and Mrs. Obama – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President and the First Lady wished all Americans a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. They reflected on the honor of serving the American people as President and First Lady over the past eight years and the progress that has been made. The President and the First Lady recognized our troops and their families for their service, and they encouraged everyone to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how to support service members, veterans, and military families in your community.

President Obama: “I could not be prouder to be your President”

On Friday, President Barack Obama had his year-end press conference before he began a two-week holiday vacation in Hawaii.

The president took a well deserved victory lap:

Today, understandably, I’m going to talk a little bit about how far we’ve come over the past eight years.

As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent. Today, it’s at 4.6 percent — the lowest in nearly a decade. We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.

When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we’ve covered more than 20 million of them. For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured. In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for HealthCare.gov. More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.

We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half, doubled production of renewable energy, enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing Main Street ever again. None of these actions stifled growth, as critics predicted. Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled. Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs. And the economy is undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.

Add it all up, and last year, the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record. In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly two-thirds and protecting vital investments that grow the middle class. […]

In other words, by so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started. That’s a situation that I’m proud to leave for my successor. And it’s thanks to the American people — to the hard work that you’ve put in, the sacrifices you’ve made for your families and your communities, the businesses that you started or invested in, the way you looked out for one another. And I could not be prouder to be your President.

Then he settled in to answer some tough questions about the recent presidential election, Russian interference in our democracy, Syria, China, and the future of the Democratic Party. His critique of the press was particularly scathing as he pointed out how they tilted the coverage away from policy issues and towards gossippy tidbits:

When we had a consensus around what had happened [the hacking], we announced it — not through the White House, not through me, but rather through the intelligence communities that had actually carried out these investigations. And then we allowed you and the American public to make an assessment as to how to weigh that going into the election.

And the truth is, is that there was nobody here who didn’t have some sense of what kind of effect it might have. I’m finding it a little curious that everybody is suddenly acting surprised that this looked like it was disadvantaging Hillary Clinton because you guys wrote about it every day. Every single leak. About every little juicy tidbit of political gossip — including John Podesta’s risotto recipe. This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage.

Full transcript below.