At the formal unveiling of Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits in the White House, each of them gave a brief speech. Given her elegance and grace, her subtle but stinging rebuke of Donald Trump came as a bit of a surprise.
Both Obama’s thanked the many people who helped them through a difficult eight years in office, including the White House staff. Throughout their speeches, their emphasis was on people. Michelle Obama hit Trump with “we hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power:”
‘You see, the people that make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power.’
The former first lady continued with “once our time is up, we move on:”
‘Those of us lucky enough to serve work, as Barack said, as hard as we can for as long as we can, as long as the people choose to keep us here. And, once our time is up, we move on. And all that remains in this hallowed place are our good efforts and these portraits.’
During his brief speech, President Biden called President Obama “one of the most consequential presidents in our history”, and he said that Former First Lady Michelle Obama was “one of the most consequential first ladies.” Then in a stage whisper, the sitting president said, according to The POLITICO:
‘Michelle, he couldn’t have done it without you.’
Michelle Obama talked about growing up on Chicago’s south side in a simple home. But then she explained that there is always hope:
‘[A] girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolly Madison. Even if it’s all still a bit awkward for me, I do recognize why moments like these are important. Why all of this is absolutely necessary. Traditions like this matter. Not just for those of us who hold these positions but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy.’
President Obama’s wife emphasized how important America’s democracy is, especially now with a great national divide:
‘As much as some folks might want us to believe that that story has lost some of its shine, that division and discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light, I still know deep in my heart that what we share, as my husband continues to say, is so much bigger than what we don’t. Our democracy is so much stronger than our differences.’
Mrs. Obama is often perceived as a good candidate for president should President Joe Biden decide to not run in 2024. However, she was slightly uncomfortable after years out of the national spotlight. Conversely, her husband was thoroughly enjoying himself.
The Hill-HarrisX poll found that Vice President Kamala Harris came in first place among possible candidates for president with 13 percent of the vote, but Michelle Obama took second place with 10 percentage points.
Trump broke with a long-held tradition of the portrait unveiling ceremony, refusing to host the Obamas in the White House. President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden were only too happy to give the couple that honor on Wednesday. The ceremony would have been last year but for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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