Obama invokes JFK and his own Irish roots at White House bash

Busy playing the Irish card as November re-election race looms - VIDEO

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny attended the White House reception to mark St Patrick’s day last night
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny attended the White House reception to mark St Patrick’s day last night
Photo by Merrion Street

As he walked the rope line after his triumphant speech at the St. Patrick’s party at the White House on Tuesday night, President Obama seemed more animated than he had ever been at this event.

“Beat Romney,” someone shouted on the ropeline.  Obama turned back with both thumbs up and said, “We will, we will.”

It was a combative moment from a president who is clearly in full re-election mode, and hoping the Irish can help him.

In his speech, the biggest applause line was when Obama accepted a certificate of Irish heritage and joked that he would hang it beside his birth certificate, which has been the focus of so much controversy for him.

Obama’s speech was far more political than in previous years, reflecting the upcoming election and the fact that it now seems certain Mitt Romney will be his GOP opponent.

Obama referenced all the Irish touchstones – President Kennedy and his visit to Ireland 50 years ago next year was high on his list and he cleverly worked in his own trip there in 2011.

Obama quoted Kennedy in his remarks.  “’It is strange,’ President Kennedy said on his last day in Ireland, ‘that so many years and so many generations pass, and still some of us who come on this trip could feel ourselves among neighbors, even though we are separated by generations, by time and by thousands of miles.’

“I know most of you can relate to that.  I think anyone who’s had a chance to visit can relate.  And that’s why Jackie Kennedy later visited Ireland with her children and gave one of President Kennedy’s dog tags to his cousins in Dunganstown.  And that’s why I felt so at home when I visited Moneygall.”

Comparing himself to Kennedy and putting himself clearly in the frame as a president with Irish roots was a very deliberate tactic by Obama on Tuesday night.


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So too was the comparison to the successful struggle of Irish emigrants who made it in America, and the current hard times that they face.

In both cases, Obama chose to use the word “we” when speaking of those Irish and of present day events.

“But we choose to rise to these times for the same reason we rose to those tougher times -- because we are all proud peoples who share more than sprawling family trees,” Obama said.

“We are peoples who share an unshakeable faith, an unbending commitment to our fellow man, and a resilient and audacious hope.  And that’s why I say of Ireland tonight what I said in Dublin last May, this little country that inspires the biggest things -- its best days are still ahead.”

Obama’s speech reflected the reality that his reelection campaign is taking nothing for granted, despite opinion polls showing him ahead of Romney.

The large crowd who attended the party in the East Room of the White House reflected that reality, too. It was significant that many of those present were not Irish, but rather were key supporters from important states around the country.

Every second person I met seemed to come from Ohio or Pennsylvania or Indiana, three of the key states Obama is hoping to win in November.

It is clear too that Obama is very much at peace with the Irish, that the ecstatic reception he got in Ireland last year has played a significant role in his attitudes towards the Irish.

Obama’s Irish cousin Henry Healy described a unique situation on Tuesday as he and fellow Moneygall man Ollie Hayes were being ushered into the White House for the reception.

Coincidentally, Obama emerged from a meeting and spotted the two men. He called over for them to join him, and ushered them into a nearby room where they spoke for 10 minutes about his hopes to visit Moneygall again, and Ireland generally.

There is no question that this president has decided that what looked like the tenuous badge of Irishness that was foisted on him some years ago is something he can actually benefit from.

But there is also, it seems, a place in his heart for the Irish. Looking at First Lady Michelle Obama, dressed in a lovely green dress and clearly enjoying the company of Irish Prime Minister Enda

Kenny and his wife Fionnuala, and watching the president stand far longer on the rope line than previous years, it is clear he is at ease.

There is no guarantee next March that there will be another four years of Obama. But clearly, he believes that having the Irish on his side in November can work well for him too.

As he said in his closing remarks to the guests, “As long as I am president, you will have a strong friend, a steadfast ally, and a faithful partner...”.

The loud ovation he received showed there are many Irish who wish for nothing less than that either.

Here's the White House's footage from the day:

See more: Barack Obama , Enda Kenny , US Presidential Race , St. Patrick's Day


15 - 71 | See all comments

emal7717 states: (Obama) "hes a bloody god hating antichristian muslim".... and you are a "bearing false witness" Christian who loses all credibility when you post such trash. I would take another look at the existing GOP platform and see what they want to do with continued deregulation Wall St, revisions to Medicare and social programs which protect the elderly and tell me again that they're looking out for the middle class. They are looking out for the "very" wealthy and corporate interests as always. How about that voucher program they want to push on seniors that gives them apx $6000. to cover their medical costs in old age. Can you imagine an 80 year old cancer stricken retiree going from insurance co. to insurance co. trying to buy insurance with their GOP (Ryan Plan) sponsored voucher. That's the vision the GOP has for the middle class. So keep getting distracted by the Muslims type smears the GOP machine sends out all the while they’re stealing the future security of America’s middle class.
JFK was what today we would call a Libertarian. The one in the white house is the lowest of low when it comes to politics. In 2008 he said and I quote "If I put an apostrophe in my name does that make me Irish?" At that point he lost any respect that he may have had with me or my family. 1. He's not catholic and has done everything to hurt / injure / destroy the Catholic Church just like the Orangeman he is - but wait, hes not an orangeman, hes a bloody god hating antichristian muslim. 2. He is about as Irish as my brit ex-wife (bishop granted me an annulment thank god as she was one of those methodists who support lesbien priests). and 3. He didnt come to the continental US until he was in University. McNamara31 your full of it! the GOP isnt trying to destroy the middle class...its actually made up of you and me! regular people and just as the DNC has been co-opted so has the GOP. In reality there is little difference between rank and file Dems and Reps like us, its the politicians that need us at each others throats so that they cna remain in office giving big money to thier friends. Lets look at some simple issues...we can agree that welfare should not be for life, nor should it be gov. induced slavery...Regan created welfare to work that was embraced by both sides, 2 years of the dole, but durring that time you go to school and learn a trade (Anything wrong with that?) The gop is not "To hell with you" just more realistic by saying that we want a person to rise up and not be a slave for some politicianns political agenda! We are willing to help all we can to those who wish to get out of the welfare cycle! but with Socialist Democrat politicians who view that the only way to remain in power is to enslave the poor! this is a sick situation...
Fran Connor.. You just made JFK and the entire family turn in their graves. JFK and his ancestors would never consider themselves "Republican" style politicians of today. Today's GOP has a mentality that would have disgusted true Irishmen of his generation because true Irishmen had a belief in social justice for all. Your statement couldn't be further from the truth. The GOP/Conservative mindset of today is much aligned to that of the Nativist view that JFK's grandparents would encounter and they (Nativists) were hated by the Irish immigrants and their future generation. The first Irish immigrants built churches, schools and "yes" hospitals to provide healthcare for the poor. The first great Irish millionaires like John William Mackay in Virginia City treated his employees extremely well gave out 9 million in charity during his lifetime and created a pension style system for the elderly who had worked in the mines. Our Irish ancestors were in no way the "I've got mine" the hell with you, type of GOP politician destroying the middle class today. It’s a dishonor to their memory to say so.
Wasn't it JFK who said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"? He'd be a republican of libertarian today. This community organizer never worked a day in his life (until his present job), and he's still trying to vote "present" to this day. What an empty suit.
Hey hollabackgurl what does meanolgrouch mean by teabagger, seems like a slur about someones personal tendencies, but I guess hate speech is ok if aimed at dissenters. The ends justify the means right.
As a member of the GOP perhaps you could write to your party leader irishpjk and ask them to stop bringing their small government into people's bedrooms, sex lives and marriage agencies.
JFK would flip over knowing that Obama is turning this country into, this is not the Democrated Party of yesterday
Obama would claim a relationship with Jesus Christ if he thought he could get away with it.
Kennedy never blamed others for things that went wrong like Obama routinely. I heard today that he blames the Solyndra mess on the Republicans. Does this guy have any shame.
yellow dog democrat-meaning you would vote for a democrat even if he were a yellow dog, very enlightened, shows a very open minded and tolerant perspective.
Thank you for your response MegK311. BrianO I respect anybodies right to have contrary opinion I did accuse any posters of been narrow minded because of their views ,that appears to be your modus operandi not mine.Poor Lizflady Obama is a black irishman you obviously have a problem with his "blackness"
As a member of the GOP I don’t care about you or your bedroom, and that’s why I don’t want to pay for your contraceptives. It did cross my mind that it might be worth it if I could be sure you would never reproduce.
Obama knows exactkt when to claim he's all black and again he knows exactly when to claim he's irish. Obama is nothing but a liar and a sham.
Obama an Irishman?! Get real. You can have him. He's not even an American! Take him to Ireland--and keep hm there--PLEASE!
I'm adopting a notification system for when I'm through with a thread, so if anyone wants to follow along and keep throwing their own waste chimp-style, they won't have to use up their last brain cell hunting for me, or thinking they've run me off. There's always new threads, children. See you in the funny papers.

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