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BAYHAM: Can The Great Divider Unite America?


On Monday, President Barack Obama will stride out to the podium on the west side of the US Capitol for his ceremonial swearing in (he’ll officially enter his second term in a private event on Sunday) and do what he does best, dazzle his countrymen with soaring rhetoric seasoned with references to political objectives he will attempt to achieve in the next four years.

But will an exhibition of his characteristic eloquence be enough to bring together a nation torn asunder by unstatesman-like comments made by the president throughout his first term and especially during his re-election bid?

Probably not.

President Obama’s inaugural address will matter less than the many other speeches he will deliver in the next four years, with the pattern revealing whether he finally transitions into being a president or continues behaving like a candidate?

Below are samples of some of Obama’s less than presidential moments since his historic victory in 2008…

“But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 … that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”

- President Obama commenting about the arrest of Harvard University professor and friend Henry Gates July 22, 2009

“We’re sweating and these guys were watching us and sipping on a Slurpee.”

- President Obama criticizing Republicans at a Labor Day rally while also pushing for his proposal to spend $50 billion on infrastructure improvements September 6, 2010

“Mr. ‘Severely Conservative’ wants you to think he was severely kidding about everything he said over the last year…. We’ve got to name this condition he’s going through. I think it’s called ‘Romnesia.’”

- President Obama mocking his Republican opponent at a campaign rally in Virginia October 19, 2012

“No, no, no — don’t boo, vote. Vote! Voting is the best revenge.”

- President Obama responding to catcalls at the mention of Mitt Romney’s name at a campaign rally in Ohio November 2, 2012

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

- President Obama at a campaign rally in Virginia July 13, 2012

“But you can imagine, if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona – your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state. But now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed.”

- President Obama railing against Arizona’s new illegal immigration law at an appearance in Ottumwa, IA April 27, 2010

“I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances.”

- President-elect Obama at a press conference making a crack about having spoken to all the living presidents but none of the deceased presidents while referencing former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s connection to astrology. President Obama later apologized to Mrs. Reagan November 7, 2008

“I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”

- President Obama discussing Fox News in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine that ran in their September 28, 2010 issue

“And then there are probably some aspects of the Tea Party that are a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the president.”

-President Obama sharing his view of the TEA Party movement in the same interview with Rolling Stone magazine

“”No, no. I have been practicing…I bowled a 129. It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something.”

- President Obama commenting about his mediocre bowling skills to Jay Leno March 20, 2009

“I won.”

- Comment reported to the media made by President Obama to Republican leaders at a meeting to discuss bipartisan cooperation

Here’s to Obama choosing his words more carefully over the next four years.


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