One Last Time: Obama and America

It’s time for one big, last thanks, Obama.

Thanks, Obama, for:

  • passing health care reform that has helped 20 million Americans gain health care coverage.
  • rebounding the economy from its recession low, adding 15.5 million jobs and presiding over record-setting continuous job growth.
  • serving as Commander in Chief during the overthrow of Osama bin Laden.
  • providing American leadership in the 2015 Paris Agreement, securing our commitment and that of numerous other countries to stalling and reversing global climate change.
  • saving the U.S. auto industry, with our $62 billion investment already repaid at over $70 billion.
  • leading the push to secure LGBT rights, resulting in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, with same-sex marriage recognized as the law of the land.
  • passing the Fair Sentencing Act to ameliorate the disproportionate drug imprisonments for the poor and people of color.
  • cutting the federal deficit from 9.8% to 3.2%
  • signing the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act.
  • de-escalating Iran’s nuclear program.

We could continue.

Today, President Obama becomes Citizen Obama. Still, we know that he’ll always be our president, the same way my grandparents proudly claimed JFK as their own decades after he was gone.

Here’s the thing about all of us who benefitted from President Obama’s policies and considered him the finest president of our lifetimes: we’re all still here. We’re all still America. We still have the progress from the past eight years, even if we have to grasp harder than we imagined to hold on to all of it. We still have that message of hope and change. We still have the rapid transition in Americans’ social mindsets that occurred over the past eight years, and we still have a generation of children who grew up only knowing a Black president. And someday, those children will be our leaders. We’re all still here, with the benefit of eight years of solid leadership, positivity, progress, idealism, empathy and resilience.

President Obama will soon be president no longer, but he’s still here too. This one goes out to Obama and America, a relationship we’ve loved for the past eight years – and that doesn’t sunset on January 20, 2017.

Thanks, Obama.

President Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. December, 2009.

President Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. December, 2009. (All photos by White House photographers Pete Souza and Lawrence Jackson)

“A few days after the mission against bin Laden, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the “Pride of Midtown,” lost 15 firefighters on 9/11 — an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house.” May, 2011.

“The President visited Joplin, Mo., following a devastating tornado. Here he greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home. Hills told the President he hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house.” May, 2011.

“One of the most poignant days of the year was when Ruby Bridges visited the White House. Ruby is the girl portrayed in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” which depicts Ruby as she is escorted to school on the court-ordered first day of integrated schools in New Orleans in 1960. When the Norman Rockwell Museum loaned the painting to the White House for a short period of time, the President invited Ruby to view the painting while it was on display outside the Oval Office

“A soldier hugs the President as he greeted U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.” May, 2012.

“The President hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped her friend, Allie Young, left, stay alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital. The President later told their story in a news conference.” July, 2012.

“Overcome with emotion, eight-year old Make-A-Wish child Janiya Penny reacts just after meeting the President as he welcomes her family to the Oval Office.” April, 2012.

“The overview of a campaign rally in Urbandale, Iowa. This view was from a scissors lift just above the press stand.” September, 2012.

“I had noticed the possibility of a potential good photograph if the President were to pass by this flag as he departed an evening campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa. So I planted myself backstage as he finished working a ropeline and managed to get one usable frame as he walked by.”November, 2012.

“Four Presidents. One funny story. Presidents Carter, Clinton, Obama and Bush wait backstage to be introduced during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.”April, 2013.

Alternate title: four private citizens who have the same president as us.

“Thelma Maxine Pippen McNair, mother of Denise McNair, whispers to the President after he signed H.R. 360, which provided for the presentation of a congressional gold medal to commemorate the lives of the four young African American victims of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in September 1963. McNair’s daughter was one of the victims.” May, 2013.

“You can’t always predict what will happen even when the President has a pre-arranged lunch during a stop on his college affordability college tour. Here, during a lunch with college students, recent graduates and educators, a young child plays on the floor nearby at Magnolia’s Deli & Cafe in Rochester, N.Y.” August, 2013.

Shout out to our hometown!

“Call it the Shake Shack slide. As he is wont to do, the President normally does a group photo with restaurant staff when he stops for lunch or dinner somewhere. After having lunch with Vice President Biden at a Shake Shack in Washington, D.C., the President asked me where he should stand for the photo. Before I could even reply, the President jumped on the counter and slid onto the other side. The Vice President soon followed.” May, 2014.

A surprise walk around the White House. May, 2014.

“Chief of Staff Denis McDonough came to the Oval Office one afternoon and said to the President, ‘let’s take a walk.’ So they proceeded outside the White House gates to a Starbucks on Pennsylvania Avenue. On the way back, the President stopped to greet street vendor Saied Abedy, who was born in Afghanistan. I later selected this photograph to hang as a ‘jumbo’ print on the walls of the West Wing. Several months later, after the jumbo print had been replaced with a newer photograph, we were tipped off that a White House staff member was giving Mr. Abedy and his family a tour of the West Wing one night. So we retrieved the jumbo print of him and hung it back on the walls of the West Wing. I later heard how emotional his family became when they saw the photograph on their tour.”June, 2014.

“During remarks on the economy in Austin, Texas, the President was heckled about immigration by two young men in the audience. After being interrupted again, the President told the men that he wanted to finish his speech but would be happy to have a conversation with them later. As soon as he left the stage, the President told his staff to bring the two men backstage so he could indeed talk to them about immigration.” June, 2014.

“The President was meeting with a group of mentees in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. As the meeting was coming to a close one of the participants challenged the President to a game of HORSE. ‘Let’s go,’ the President responded, and the entire group walked down to the basketball court on the South Lawn. In addition to the shooting competition, the President also used the opportunity to further talk to the young men about life lessons, not basketball.” October, 2014.

“It was supposed to be just a simple early voting by the President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Chicago, Illinois. When Aia Cooper, left, and her fiancé Mike Jones, far right, walked by to also cast their ballot, Jones quipped, ‘Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.’ The President replied, ‘I really wasn’t planning on it,’ joking that Jones was ‘an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.’ When the President finished voting, he reached over and gave Cooper a kiss on the cheek.” October, 2014.

Watch the video. It’s real good.

March 7, 2015 “For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” March, 2015.

President Obama unexpectedly breaks out into Amazing Grace while giving the eulogy for or South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine victims in the Charleston church shooting. June, 2015.

Oct. 11, 2015 “The President was playing golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. As he was finishing his round, he began to shake hands with guests waiting for a wedding ceremony about to begin. The bride and groom were waiting inside but when they looked out the window and saw the President, they decided to make their way outside. I made a grab shot as the bride, Stephanie Tobe, and her soon-to-be husband, Brian Tobe, came running to greet the President. I made sure to send a copy to the happy couple and both wrote back to me that they were extremely grateful to have the President ‘crash’ their wedding.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The President was playing golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. As he was finishing his round, he began to shake hands with guests waiting for a wedding ceremony about to begin. The bride and groom were waiting inside but when they looked out the window and saw the President, they decided to make their way outside. I made a grab shot as the bride, Stephanie Tobe, and her soon-to-be husband, Brian Tobe, came running to greet the President. I made sure to send a copy to the happy couple and both wrote back to me that they were extremely grateful to have the President ‘crash’ their wedding.” October, 2015.

Feb. 18, 2016 “President Obama watches the First Lady dance with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“President Obama watches the First Lady dance with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month.” February, 2016.

Also an accompanying video that will make your heart explode.

Nov. 11, 2016 “The excitement in his face says it all. Bill Mohr, 108 years old (not a typo), was the oldest living World War II veteran when he met President Obama after a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House. Bill passed away a couple of weeks ago and his family released a statement including this sentence: ‘Meeting a sitting President was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for our father, who was a true patriot.’” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The excitement in his face says it all. Bill Mohr, 108 years old (not a typo), was the oldest living World War II veteran when he met President Obama after a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House. Bill passed away a couple of weeks ago and his family released a statement including this sentence: ‘Meeting a sitting President was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for our father, who was a true patriot.’” November, 2016.

Farewell speech. One last time. January, 2017.

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One Last Time: Obama and Celebrities

It’s been an emotional week, and tomorrow’s going to be even rougher. That’s why today we’re taking a break for a bit of fun. We always get a kick out of celebrities meeting a well-liked president, if only because sometimes it’s hard to guess who’s more excited. Getting to meet the president can be a major perk of success in athletics or the entertainment industry, but it’s got to be a blast for the president, too: you signed up to lead a nation, but you also get to meet all of these varied, talented, fascinating people. Whether he’s cracking up with Olympians or welcoming Broadway actors into his home, it’s a real ‘presidents – they’re just like us!’ feeling. Get ready to smile and relive some of the fun times from the past 8 years!

Barack Obama shed his Obama mask on “Saturday Night Live.” Darrell Hammond and Amy Poehler were the Clintons. November, 2007.

Barack Obama shed his Obama mask on “Saturday Night Live.” Darrell Hammond and Amy Poehler were the Clintons. November, 2007.

President Obama, Amy Poehler and Saturday Night Live – talk about three beautiful, cherished American institutions, all in one picture.

Usher and Kerry Washington campaign for President Obama during a rally in South Carolina. January, 2008.

Usher and Kerry Washington campaign for President Obama during a rally in South Carolina. January, 2008.

There were a number of early Obama adapters during his first presidential campaign, namely because he had a lot of buzz as a senator in Illinois. Among them were Usher and pre-Scandal Kerry Washington, who campaigned for him in 2008. These folks ain’t bandwagon supporters.

Barack and Michelle embrace next to Oprah during a campaign rally. December, 2008.

Barack and Michelle embrace next to Oprah during a campaign rally. December, 2008.

Oprah is all of us. Also, remember that shining era when we had Obama in the White House AND Oprah on TV? I swear these are the things we’ll be telling our grandkids about.

Two days before the inauguration in 2009, musicians and actors came together for the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, performing songs and reciting pieces for the Obamas, Bidens and 400,000 people in attendance. Among those who took the stage were U2 (as seen above), Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, and Bruce Springsteen, as well as collabos between James Taylor, John Legend and Jennifer Nettles, Josh Groban, Heather Headley, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of D.C.,Herbie Hancock, will.i.am, and Sheryl Crow, and Usher, Stevie Wonder, and Shakira. Not to mention the other stars like Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Carell, Queen Latifah, Forest Whitaker, and Martin Luther King III and more reading historical passages. You can watch the two hour concert here!

Aretha Franklin sings My Country, 'Tis of Thee at the inauguration. January, 2009.

Aretha Franklin sings My Country, ‘Tis of Thee at the inauguration. January, 2009.

For the actual inauguration, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill collaborated on a piece by John Williams called Air and Simple Gifts, and although that was lauded, it was Aretha Franklin who really stole the show as she sang My Country, ‘Tis if Thee. Sure, we all know how great of a singer she is but it was the hat – a grey, Swarovski crystal-studded bow hat, that sparked conversation and memes all over the world. Also getting to see the hat IRL at the ceremony were

That night, the Obamas attended 10 official inaugural balls, where even MORE celebrities attended like Jennifer Aniston, Rihanna, Will Smith – legit the list is too long to type out so read all of them here – and Beyonce showed up again in her iconic romantic serenade of At Last.

Miranda Cosgrove, Matthew Morrison, Mariah Carey, Ellen DeGeneres, Maxwell, and Annie Lennox at the WH Christmas special. December, 2010.

Miranda Cosgrove, Matthew Morrison, Mariah Carey, Ellen DeGeneres, Maxwell, and Annie Lennox at the WH Christmas special. December, 2010.

This is just a sample of their annual holiday concert. Just imagine this times 8.

Will Ferrell and his wife, Viveca, laughed with President Obama in the Oval Office. Oct. 2011.

Will Ferrell and his wife, Viveca, laughed with President Obama in the Oval Office. Oct. 2011.

My favorite is that Will Ferrell and his wife – a person who lives with Will Ferrell – appear to be laughing at whatever OBAMA said.

President Obama meets with over 20 actors for a private Young Hollywood event. June, 2012.

President Obama meets with over 20 actors for a private Young Hollywood event. June, 2012.

Usually the President’s activities during a trip are explicit, but there was no mention of this secret meeting at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Barack asked 25 of Hollywood’s hottest stars to get involved in his re-election campaign. Among them were Anna Kendrick, Zach Braff, Jeremy Renner, Zachary Quinto, Jessica Alba, Jared Leto, Kal Penn and Sophia Bush. Obviously, these folks put their photos on social media later for all of us to be jealous of.

May 11, 2012

President Obama takes a break during a basketball game in Los Angeles with some A-list teammates and competitors – Don Cheadle, Tobey Maguire, and George Clooney. Plus two of Clooney’s long-time friends and now ex-girlfriend Stacy Keibler. September, 2012.

Find yourself someone who looks at you like George Clooney is looking at POTUS.

November 15, 2012

President Obama poses with Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney. November, 2012.

I love that Obama fangirled over the 2012 Olympics as much as the rest of us, and also that he’s clearly up on his memes.

Beyonce is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama after her performance during inauguration ceremonies. January, 2013.

Beyonce is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama after her performance during inauguration ceremonies. January, 2013.

Obama’s second inauguration was a star-studded event, and by this point Beyonce was an established White House favorite. Really makes me proud to be an American!

President Obama greets Kelly Clarkson after her performance at his second inauguration. January, 2013.

President Obama greets Kelly Clarkson after her performance at his second inauguration. January, 2013.

Like we said, really fun inauguration. In this photo, Kelly Clarkson is looking at Obama exactly how I would, AND Obama is looking at Kelly Clarkson exactly how I would.

Singer Stevie Wonder is honored Monday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, who said the first record he ever bought was by Wonder.

Singer Stevie Wonder is honored Monday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, who said the first record he ever bought was by Wonder.

The Obamas danced to Stevie Wonder at their wedding and all these years later he’s a regular guest in their home, playing POTUS’s birthday party and getting awards from him. If you look closely you can see all of Barack’s dreams coming true.

Justin Timberlake greets President Obama (with Queen Latifah in the background). May, 2013.

Justin Timberlake greets President Obama (with Queen Latifah in the background). May, 2013.

JT posted the above photo on Obama’s birthday and captioned it “Just showing The Prez how I made a half-court shot on his hoop while he was leading the free world and stuff… No big deal. Happy Bday, Mr. President!!”

They have inside jokes, it’s fine.

This is an Emmy-winning video.

The President and the First Lady meet the President and the First Lady. White House Correspondents Dinner. May, 2014.

Mellie/Michelle 2020?

POTUS strikes a pose with Usain Bolt. April, 2015.

POTUS strikes a pose with Usain Bolt. April, 2015.

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how happy Barry looks? That is pure joy right there.

After Cecily Strong's speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner. April, 2015.

After Cecily Strong’s speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner. April, 2015.

Remember how Cecily Strong absolutely crushed it at the WHCD?! Then, even though he was the butt of some of the jokes, POTUS also acknowledged that she was absolutely hilarious and all of the hits were totally fair. Also, this happened to be the same WHCD where Obama’s Anger Translator Luther (Keegan-Michael Key) showed up.

July 18, 2015 “The President greets the cast and crew of ‘Hamilton’ after seeing the play with his daughters at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

July 18, 2015 “The President greets the cast and crew of ‘Hamilton’ after seeing the play with his daughters at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

I like to think that this is how everyone looks at you when you get to heaven.

We consider Hamilton a true musical of the Obama era and we get such a kick out of the mutual love between the cast, creatives and POTUS.

Dec. 7, 2015 “Comedian Jerry Seinfeld knocks on the Oval Office window to begin a segment for his series, ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Jerry Seinfeld knocks on the window of the Oval Office. December, 2015.

I’m not one who particularly *loves* Jerry Seinfeld, but I do enjoy Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and this one with President Obama is no different. Well, actually it was. Since the Pres has limited ability to drive around in a vintage car with a guy who makes jokes for a living, they could lit’rally only make a loop in front of the White House and the coffee was in some WH bunker. That’s exaggerating – just watch it.

President Obama joined Jimmy Fallon for a second installment of Slow Jam the News. June, 2016.

Since Jimmy had a talk show, the Obamas have been happy to play along with his bits, including Slow Jam the News, which is another reason why President Obama is the coolest. Slick Willy Clinton could probably get away with doing this but can you imagine Dubya saying “Oh yeah” then dropping the mic?

President Obama serenades daughter Malia with 'Happy Birthday.' July 4, 2016.

President Obama serenades daughter Malia with ‘Happy Birthday.’ July 4, 2016.

The 2004 films Chasing Liberty and First Daughter taught me that it can be hard to be the child of the American president … but if your 18th birthday involves Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae singing you Happy Birthday on the White House lawn, it sounds pretty OK.

Sept. 12, 2016 “After a meeting with actor and human rights activist George Clooney, the President invited him and three of his colleagues to shoot hoops on the White House basketball court. This photo garnered a lot of attention when it was hung on the walls of the West Wing.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

George and Barack back on the basketball court after they met to discuss some human rights policies. September, 2016.

This is also the poster of the 2018 film where Clooney & Obama lead a rag-tag group of international figures in some kind of witty heist.

Oct. 21, 2016 “Bill Murray stopped by the White House to be honored as the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. When the President opened the door to the Oval Office, he laughed that Bill was in full Chicago Cubs regalia just before the Cubs were to begin the World Series. After the presentation, Murray demonstrated his prowess in putting, ‘sinking’ several putts into a White House drinking glass, all while doing a public service announcement to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Bill Murray shows off his putting skills in the Oval Office while filming a PSA to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. It was also just before he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. October, 2016.

Just two Chicago boys casually putting into glass in the Oval Office.

Nov. 22, 2016 “Bruuuuuce! The President reaches out to shake hands with Bruce Springsteen in the Blue Room of the White House prior to the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony. I’m so happy for Bruce, having been a fan of his for almost 30 years during which I’ve seen at least 35 of his concerts.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets Bruce Springsteen before he received the President Medal of Freed. November, 2016.

I don’t think you know how many Bruce Springsteen pictures we had to choose from. There’s probably a small, dedicated guest room where Bruce stays and they’ll have to forcefully remove him on 1/20.

Rather than a photo, just watch the whole video of Obama awarding Ellen Degeneres the Medal of Freedom. It’s definitely a two-kleenex moment.

That face when the President drops by for a visit. Today, the cast of Hidden Figures visited the White House to highlight the stories of Americans who defied stereotypes and broke glass ceilings to advance human space flight, science, and innovation. December, 2016.

That face when the President drops by for a visit. Today, the cast of Hidden Figures visited the White House to highlight the stories of Americans who defied stereotypes and broke glass ceilings to advance human space flight, science, and innovation. December, 2016.

Octavia Spencer, somehow simultaneously so adorable you could imagine being BFFs with her and so talented that it’s intimidating, is the face of America.

When your favs are each others favs: I’ve heard that Janelle Monae has been invited to/performed at the White House more than any other musical artist. Also just this whole crowd, in general.

Kendrick Lamar meets President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House. January, 2016.

Kendrick Lamar meets President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House. January, 2016.

Do yourself a favor and run a search of Kendrick Lamar and President Obama at the White House. All of the photos are absolutely delightful.

President Obama teaches Steph Curry a few things about shooting. April, 2016.

 

Y’all – do yourself a favor and watch this entire concert of BET Presents Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration. Partly because BET isn’t going to present a damn thing for the next administration, but mostly because there are star-studded performances from Jill Scott, BFF Janelle Monae, smokeshows Common, Usher and Leslie Odom, Jr. and Bradley Cooper is also there to fill a quota.

Going away party. January, 2017.

What better way to end eight years in a mansion than with your famous friends? The Obamas held one last bash at the White House earlier this month, with a bunch of celebrities who have supported the administration throughout their tenure. Guests weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the party that lasted until 4am, so all the available photos are from the outside, or in performer Solange’s case, during soundcheck. Among those who danced alongside Barry and Michelle were Amal and George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Nick Jonas, Kelly Rowland, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, Chance the Rapper, Jay Pharoah, Usher and Billy Eichner. AND MORE.

Finally, cry your eyes out as you watch celebrities thank the Obamas for their years of service.

One Last Time: Obama and Biden

It’s a bromance for the ages –  a story of friendship through some of the best times a person can go through and some of the worst, a tale of two fun-loving but brilliant men running the free world and sharing a laugh at the same time. Yes, today is all about President Barack Obama and his bro for life, Vice President Joe Biden.

So much of Joe Biden’s character is rooted in lightness and positivity that it almost feels inappropriate to introduce him with a discussion of darkness. Still, Joe has known more of it that anyone should. When Joe was still just a young senator, husband and father, his wife Neilia and baby daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident a week before Christmas. Years later, while serving as Vice President, Joe lost his young, accomplished and beloved son Beau to brain cancer. Through that trial President Obama was Joe’s closest colleague and chosen brother. True to form, Joe has stood for goodness and light through it all. It’s exactly that true camradery, through light times and dark, that has lead the Obiden friendship to be possibly the most-memed buddy duo in our day. We all love the hilarious captions and imaginary in-jokes online, but even the undoctored photos show the close and joyful relationship between POTUS and VPOTUS.

Whether they’re Let’s Move-ing throughout the White House, making each other friendship bracelets, checking in on their children’s and grandchildren’s first slumber party together or ending their White House run with a surprise Medal of Freedom ceremony, we have learned a lot about friendship from these two leaders, friends and brothers.

Barack and Joe share a laugh at the Windmill Ice Cream shop in Pennsylvania. August, 2008.

Barack and Joe share a laugh at the Windmill Ice Cream shop in Pennsylvania. August, 2008.

Everyone knows Joe and his other love affair with ice cream, but when he can bring his brother along for a cone, that’s like bringing your significant other home to your parents.

You’re right, Joe. Passing health care reform IS a big fucking deal. March, 2010.

Barack and Joe react to a speech made by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen at a St Patrick's Day reception. March, 2010.

Barack and Joe react to a speech made by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen at a St Patrick’s Day reception. March, 2010.

Also their possible engagement photo.

Barack, Joe and Hillary Clinton share a laugh in the Oval. January, 2012

Background on this photo, per Pete Souza: “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just accidentally dropped all of her briefing papers onto the Oval Office rug and she, the President and Vice President all reacted in a way that indicated that surely I wouldn’t get a photo of that to embarrass her.” #ImStillWithHer #ImStillWithThem

Joe attempts to block Barack as they wait before the STOCK Act signing event. April, 2012.

Joe attempts to block Barack as they wait before the STOCK Act signing event. April, 2012.

These two actually like each other.

Barack and Joe courtside at the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team and Brazil during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game on July, 2012.

Barack and Joe courtside at the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team and Brazil during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game on July, 2012.

They’re bros through and through.

President Obama brags about Joe Biden's granddaughter Maisy during a visit to the USA Women's basketball team. August, 2012.

President Obama brags about Joe Biden’s granddaughter Maisy during a visit to the USA Women’s basketball team. August, 2012.

They’re such fam that POTUS brags about Joe’s grandkids FOR HIM. Multi-generational cuteness alert: Maisy and Sasha are reportedly close friends and played on their school basketball team together.

Barack and Joe hang out before a campaign rally in New Hampshire. September, 2012

Like, really like each other.

Election Night, 2012.

Election Night. November, 2012.

Ready for four more.

Joe stands to applaud Barack during the State of the Union. February, 2013.

Joe stands to applaud Barack during the State of the Union. February, 2013.

You can always count on Joe to have your back.

Barack and Michelle chit chat with Joe and Jill before the National Governors Association Dinner. February, 2013.

Can you just imagine the double dates these four will be able to go on as private citizens?

Barack insists he's paying for Joe's lunch. October, 2013.

Barack insists he’s paying for Joe’s lunch. October, 2013.

This is when Joe and Barack took a walk to get lunch and it really hit me just how on you have to be 24/7 when you’re the president. If you watch the video of them on their little lunch date, Barack stops to shake hands with almost every person. It’s that grassroots/organizer in him and it’s so incredibly admirable. I love him so much.

Joe and Barack hold hands during a group prayer in a meeting with faith leaders to discuss immigration reform. November 2013.

This is the image that will be printed on the front of their joint thank you notes they’ll be handwriting to all their staff starting January 21st.

First of all, I think the Let’s Move campaign was a worthy and excellent program. Second, I still get a kick out of Joe helping his buddy out with this thing his wife is really into. Like, if these were just two regular dudes in the suburbs, Joe would be running a 5K with Barack after Michelle signed him up as a New Year’s Resolution push.

June 6, 2015 “The President hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Barack gives Joe a hug after giving a eulogy at Beau Biden’s funeral. June, 2015 .

Honestly I’ve only seen clips of the eulogy the President gave because emotions, but you can just tell that he wasn’t phoning it in as a responsibility or favor to Joe and his family. It was filled with compassion and deep sadness as if one of his own family members had died. And that’s what makes this bond so special.

Biden and Obama react to a heckler at an LGBT pride event. June, 2015.

When you’re a leader, you’re going to face criticism – some of it founded, some ridiculous. If you don’t have an inflated sense of self-importance, it probably just makes you giggle sometimes.

Joe looks on as Barack wipes away tears while speaking about gun violence. January, 2016.

Joe looks on as Barack wipes away tears while speaking about gun violence. January, 2016.

Because his pain is the other’s pain and vice versa. They showed us that humanity and friendship was alive and well in the White House. Not just in the happy times, but in the devastating, frustrating, “Americans are fucking dying out there but why can’t we ever get anything done to help them” in Washington times, too.

Aug. 4, 2016 “With some staff watching in the background, President Obama blows out candles after the Vice President surprised him with some birthday cupcakes.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Joe surprises Barack with birthday cupcakes. August, 2016.

When your boo knows you ain’t about that whole cake life because Michelle.

Joe and Barack embrace after the President gives his farewell speech in Chicago. January, 2017.

Joe and Barack embrace after the President gives his farewell speech in Chicago. January, 2017.

I’m really going to miss them. Their friendship and their leadership.

President Obama awards the Vice President with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. January, 2017.

President Obama awards the Vice President with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. January, 2017.

I mean. If you haven’t watched this whole thing yet, it’s the most American thing you can do right now.

One Last Time: Obama and The First Lady

I’m creating a national holiday and it’s called Michelle Obama Day. Today is that day. Our First Lady’s 53rd birthday just happens to fall during not only days before she and her best friend leave the White House, but also during Obama Week here at Cookies + Sangria. Which one is the bigger honor? WE’LL NEVER KNOW. Yesterday we cried over Barack’s tender moments with little nuggets, and today, we’ll cry once again over Barack and Michelle’s tender moments. Basically expect us to cry for the entire week.

But first, a note from the President:

Barack, Sasha, Malia, and Michelle make their first official debut as America’s First Family. November, 2008.

Election Night 2008 is one of those dates you remember forever. Where you were, who were you were with, how you felt when the results came in. Much like this past month, that night had me overwhelmed with emotion, pride, and a sense that this leadership, not just from Barack, but from Michelle. Seeing this All-American family take a victory lap felt like a dream. I felt like ‘hope’ wasn’t just an idealistic campaign slogan, but a real concept taking shape before our very eyes. This family helped us have faith in the country again.

This photo is from a 2008 election night rally. I remember looking at this photo the day after the election and realizing, with wonder and pride, that our first family was finally black. It’s been eight years and sometimes I get thrilled and overwhelmed all over again.

My feelings from inauguration day in 2009 feel so fresh that it’s really hard to comprehend that it was eight years ago. Remember seeing this beautiful, young, brilliant couple truly enjoying the moment and each other?

Inauguration night. January, 2009.

I love this moment between the First Couple. Although his staff and secret service is surrounding them, it’s like they are in a world of their own. And ready to take on the White House. Also, that Jason Wu gown is to die and who else cries anytime they see Barack and Michelle dancing to Beyonce singing At Last at one of the balls?!

Barack hugs Michelle in the White House Red Room. March, 2009.

Barack hugs Michelle in the White House Red Room. March, 2009.

Even Valerie Jarrett is jealous of their love.

Michelle and Barack watch fireworks from the White House on Independence Day. July, 2009.

I just love this picture. The end.

Barack and Michelle wave to the citizens of Oslo, where they were to attend the Nobel Peace Prize dinner. December, 2009.

Barack and Michelle wave to the citizens of Oslo, where they were to attend the Nobel Peace Prize dinner. December, 2009.

Are back shot photos played out or still artistic? Who knows, who cares? I am all in for this one, where Barack and Michelle are waving to the masses outside. Sure it’s great from the front, but there’s something about the stillness from the inside that makes this moment even more magical.

Feb. 21, 2010

Barack and Michelle dance to Harry Connick, Jr. at the Governors Ball. February, 2010

I see you, Michelle.

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Tender moments outside a rally in Columbus, Ohio. October, 2010.

Barry whispers into Michelle’s ear between events related to the UN General Assembly in New York City. September, 2011.

*CAPTION THIS*

Michelle places her hand atop Barack as he speaks from a podium during a Christmas event at the White House. December, 2011.

It’s the little things, you know?

Michelle and Barack take in the lakeside views of their hometown of Chicago. June, 2012.

Per the film Southside With You, this is where Barack and Michelle strolled during their first date. This time around, they came with a little extra security. They arrived in the helicopter landing zone and instead of going straight to the motorcade, these two lovebirds walked past the car and to the edge of Lake Michigan where this photo was taken.

Barack looks at Michelle who’s looking at Valerie Jarrett’s daughter gets married. June, 2012.

Find a man who looks at you like Barack looks at Michelle.

Michelle and Barack give in to the Kiss Cam during a basketball game between team USA and Brazil. July, 2012.

The best part of this Kiss Cam situation is Malia insisting they do it, and Uncle Joe reluctantly watching Barry plant a smooch on his wife. {Relive the moment here}

Michelle holds onto Barack’s hand during a campaign event in Iowa. August, 2012.

That’s ~*TrU LoVe*~ right there.

anuary 17, 2013

Barack serenades Michelle on her birthday. January, 2013.

Alternate caption: Michelle got bangs and Barack is singing, “I-I-I. I’m soo in love with you!”

Barack and Michelle wave to the folks along the parade route on Inauguration Day. January, 2013.

According to Pete Souza, when he asked the President if he could ride along in the presidential limousine, Barack said, “But Michelle and I were planning to make out.” DAMNIT PETE YOU RUIN EVERYTHING.

Barack helps Michelle down the stairs during the State Dinner for France’s President Hollande. February, 2014 .

A true gentleman caller.

Michelle watches Barack speak at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner. September, 2014.

Michelle watches Barack speak at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner. September, 2014.

We can’t see it, but you just know Michelle has her proud face on right now.

Mistletoe at the White House. December, 2014.

Michelle and Pete Souza spotted the Mistletoe over Barack’s head and she made the move to make sure he followed tradition. These two, I swear.

March 7, 2015 “I was moving around trying to capture different scenes away from the stage during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches. When I glanced back towards the stage, I noticed the President and First Lady holding hands as they listened to the remarks of Rep. John Lewis. I managed to squeeze off a couple of frames before they began to applaud, and the moment was gone.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Barack and Michelle listen to American Hero Rep. John Lewis as he speaks at the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches.

THE HANDS.

March 27, 2015 “The First Lady snuggled against the President during a video taping for the 2015 World Expo in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.” (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Michelle snuggles up to Barack. March, 2015.

History has its eyes on you.

The State Dinners alway give Michelle, especially, a chance to walk the runway with an eyepopping gown (her drop the mic dress for their very last one, for example). The Vera Wang gown for the 2015 State Dinner for China was a big crowd pleaser, but nothing was more pleasing than to see Michelle fix Barack’s tie, then him giving the thumbs up right after.

Barack and Michelle animatedly read Where The Wild Things Are to kids on Easter. March, 2016.

Barack and Michelle animatedly read Where The Wild Things Are to kids on Easter. March, 2016.

Just watch the whole video.

Michelle posted this photo on Barack’s 55th birthday. It reminds me of an interview I once saw of Jacqueline Kennedy, where she described her favorite photo of JFK’s inauguration — a moment where she’s chucking him under the chin, which she said was a sweeter moment than any kiss they could’ve caught on film. Maybe we did get a second Camelot.

Michelle and Barack cover Essence magazine. September, 2016.

Michelle and Barack cover Essence magazine. October, 2016.

100 percent my favorite photo shoot of these two together, ever.

Oct. 14, 2016 “There was almost no light remaining at the end of the day when the President and First Lady walked out to the South Lawn for a ‘Fourth Quarter’ toast to White House staff.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Barack and Michelle give a toast to the White House staff. October, 2016.

Raise a glass to freedom.

Family Christmas card. December, 2016.

Family Christmas card. December, 2016.

Look at where you are. Look at where you started.

 

One Last Time: Obama and Kids

Think about this: for a whole generation of children, President Barack Obama is the only president they can remember. They’ve only known a president grounded in goodwill, diplomacy and belief in the possibility of change and progress. As long as these children have been aware of it, their president has been black. Eight years isn’t much to us as adults, but for a child it’s a lifetime. These children have spent a lifetime knowing that it’s possible for a child of any race to grow up to be president – if you can see it, you can be it.

One of the best insights into President Obama’s character comes when he interacts with children. I’d say that’s one of the best ways to get a look at anybody’s character. Not everybody is a “kid person,” but it says a lot when an adult regards a child as a full person. This means listening, regarding their opinions as important and valid, and seeing the humanity in a person who has only been walking this earth for a handful of years. President Obama listens to kids and meets their gaze at their level: this is important. President Obama’s interactions with children also show his sense of fun and spontaneity – he is more interested in playing and having a good time than in appearing stoic or dignified. Most of the others-centered people I have known share this quality. They are fully present with whoever is in the room, child or adult, and are more tuned into that experience than how they are perceived.

All that to say: President Obama is a great guy. We are thrilled that today’s children have grown up with him as their president. Also, he’s adorable with kids. Here are some of our favorite Obama and kids moments:

 “A temporary White House staffer, Carlton Philadelphia, brought his family to the Oval Office for a farewell photo with President Obama. Carlton’s son softly told the President he had just gotten a haircut like President Obama, and asked if he could feel the President’s head to see if it felt the same as his.” May 8, 2009

“A temporary White House staffer, Carlton Philadelphia, brought his family to the Oval Office for a farewell photo with President Obama. Carlton’s son softly told the President he had just gotten a haircut like President Obama, and asked if he could feel the President’s head to see if it felt the same as his.” May 8, 2009

This little guy told Barry he had gotten a haircut just like the President, and asked if he could feel his head to see if it felt the same as his. This photo has become one of the most iconic snapshots of Barack’s administration, and is the perfect example of how much of a role model he’s been to kids around the country, and the world.

Students show their excitement at meeting President Barack Obama during his visit to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School in New Orleans, La., Oct. 15, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School in New Orleans. October, 2009.

Joy. Just pure joy.

President Barack Obama plays with his niece Savita during the family’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 25 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama with his niece Savita in Martha’s Vineyard, August, 2009.

I always forget Barack has a half-sister that’s Indonesian, and she’s married to a full Chinese dude, which is why Barack’s niece is the most Asian. #America

Barack filling in as coach for Sasha’s basketball team, February, 2011.

When two of the coaches for your kid’s basketball team have to bail last minute, you ask the other kids’ parents if they can fill in. And one of the volunteers happens to be the President of the United States. Barack and his then personal aide, Reggie Love pull out their coach hats and playbooks and here they are cheering on the girls’ team from the sidelines. Super normal.

President Barack Obama holds up four-month-old Alia Jawando as her father, William Jawando, Deputy Associate Director of Public Engagement, and her mother Michele look on in the Oval Office, March 9, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama holds up four-month old Alia Jawando, whose father William was the Deputy Associate Director of Public Engagement. March, 2011.

*NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA*

President Barack Obama greets children at a day care facility adjacent to daughter Sasha’s school in Bethesda, Md., following her 4th grade closing ceremony, June 9, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets kids at a day care in Bethseda, Maryland. June, 2011.

This was just a stop along Barack’s journey that day, as he had attended Sasha’s 4th grade closing ceremony just next door. But I love the faces of these kinder who have no idea that they’re face to face with the President. Years from now, they’ll look back in awe that they were that close to our of our country’s greatest leaders.

Feb. 1, 2012 “Lawrence Jackson captured this cute photograph of the President holding Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama holding three-year-old Arianna Holmes in the Oval Office. February, 2012

As Barack looks at Abraham Lincoln before him, I look at little Arianna thinking, “Same, girl. Same.”

President Barack Obama runs around his desk in the Oval Office with Sarah Froman, daughter of Nancy Goodman and Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, July 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama runs around the Oval with Sarah, daughter of Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics. July, 2012.

One of the many things I appreciated about Barack and Michelle is that they brought youth both physically and in their spirits back into the White House. It’s been a hot second since we’ve seen a POTUS running around chasing a tot in the Oval Office.

President Barack Obama signs a photograph as he greets people on the tarmac upon arrival at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, La., July 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama signs a photograph for a young man at the New Orleans, airport. July, 2012.

What a wonderful thing to see yourself in your role model.

The President takes a hit from Spider-Man. October, 2012

Another iconic shot taken by official White House photographer Pete Souza (most of these photos are by him), in which Nicholas Tamarin, 3, slings his web after trick-or-treating in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with his father, WH aide Nate Tamarin. Yet again, it shows the playfulness and joy President Obama has around kids, which might be why he now has this photo hanging in the West Wing.

December 16, 2012

President Obama poses with the family of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children killed in Newtown. December, 2012

President Obama has called the day the Newtown shooting occurred the worst day of his presidency, and two days after it happened, he visited the victims’ families and to give a speech at a prayer vigil. He spent hours speaking with them, and this photo was taken with the siblings and cousins of Emile, who died in the massacre. The President was able to find a moment to smile in the midst of a horrifying tragedy, and it’s all because he has hope for a bright future of these children.

The President with Robby Novak aka Kid President. April, 2013.

Remember when we all met Kid President for the first time and he shared his inspirational words with us?

June 14, 2013 “The President called me over to pose for a photo with a young boy who had fallen asleep during the Father’s Day ice cream social in the State Dining Room of the White House.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Father’s Day ice cream social. June, 2013

When you at the White House for a once-in-a-lifetime event but you mad tired because your mom made you get up at the buttcrack of dawn to get ready.

April 4, 2014 “Despite the haphazard framing, I love the expressions on the President and one-year-old Lincoln Rose Smith as she learns to walk in the Oval Office. This moment happened when former Deputy Press Secretary Jamie Smith and her family stopped by for a departure greet and photograph with the President.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lincoln Rose, daughter of former Deputy Press Secretary Jamie Smith, learns how to walk with the help of President Obama. April, 2014

So much happiness from both of these adorable humans.

President Obama writes an excuse for five-year-old Alanah Poullard, who skipped school to visit the White House. September, 2013

President Obama writes an excuse for five-year-old Alanah Poullard, who skipped school to visit the White House. September, 2013

Alanah skipped Kindergarten for the day to attend an event for Wounded Warriors and their families, and personally asked the President to write her the note. This child is me. I am this child.

President Obama meets with students at an elementary school at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. September, 2014

President Obama meets with students at an elementary school at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. September, 2014

Barry specifically said, “Don’t make rabbit ears” so obviously it was Opposite Day and these kids did it anyways. Please also note the girl to his right, who is just clutching on to him as if he’s her uncle. That’s the kind of person we want in the White House.

President Barack Obama and a young boy point at each other as the President greets Marine personnel and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets a young boy at the Marine Corps base Hawaii on Christmas Day, 2014

“Hey, I recognize you from the TV!”

President Barack Obama holds a baby during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet in Kingston, Jamaica, April 8, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A baby grabs a hold of President Obama’s face in Kingston, Jamaica. April, 2015.

It’s cute when a baby does it, but if I did this I’d be tackled by Secret Service. Probs worth it.

President Obama gets to the level of baby Ella, daughter of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, June, 2015. [Pete Souza]

President Obama gets to the level of baby Ella, daughter of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, June, 2015.

Who doesn’t love tummy time in the Oval on top of the Presidential seal? Bonus: here’s a pic of Barry calling Ben when baby Ella was born in 2014. I mean. Literal precious moments.

June 17, 2015 “The President carries the twin boys of Katie Beirne Fallon, Director of Legislative Affairs, into the Oval Office just a few months after they were born.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Double trouble with the twin sons of Katie Beirne Fallon, Director of Legislative Affairs. June, 2015.

Tag yourself I’m the crying mom in the background, despite not knowing these children at all.

July 17, 2015 “The President greets nine-month-old Josephine Gronniger, whose father, Tim Gronniger, brought his family by the Oval Office for a family photo.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has a mind meld with nine-month-old Josephine Gronniger. July, 2015.

I bet President Obama’s going to be the dad who keeps asking Sasha and Malia to have kids when they’re older so he can have grandbabies.

Sept. 21, 2015 “The President exchanges a wave with Alya Dorelien Bitar, one-year-old daughter of Maher Bitar, the outgoing National Security Council Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, and his wife, Astrid Dorelien, during a family photo in the Oval Office.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Happy baby Alya Dorelien Bitar, one-year-old daughter of Maher Bitar, the outgoing National Security Council Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, waves hello to the President. September, 2015.

I said hey what’s up hello.

President Obama plays with lucky baby Ella Rhodes in her Halloween costume. October, 2015.

Ella Rhodes, possibly the luckiest baby in the White House?

Dec. 4, 2015 “The President snuggles with his niece Savita Ng after his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family dropped by the Oval Office.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Hey remember Barack’s niece Savita from earlier? Yeah this is her. December, 2015

Like Sasha and Malia, Savita also grew up a lot during the course of her uncle’s tenure in the White House. And yet again, he reminds us that his family is American in the truest sense of the word.

Dec. 4, 2015 “The President acquiesced to a selfie with 11-year-old Jacob Haynes and four-year-old James Haynes after taking a family photograph with departing White House staffer Heather Foster.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Jacob Haynes, 11, snaps a selfie with the President as he holds Jacob’s four-year-old brother. December, 2015

But first – let me take a selfie (is that reference dated).

President Obama meets with Prince William and Princess Kate, and is introduced to Prince George, April 2016. [Pete Souza]

President Obama meets with Prince William and Princess Kate, and is introduced to Prince George. April 2016.

Prince George is too cool to suit up for Barry and decided to wear his daytime loungewear instead (I think he was actually about to take a nap).

April 14, 2016 “The President is always asking staff to bring their babies and young kids by for a visit. Here, during a break between meetings one afternoon, the President crawled around in the Oval Office with Communications Director Jen Psaki’s daughter Vivi.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President spends a break between meetings with Communications Director Jen Psaki’s daughter Vivi. April, 2016.

Just think about all the children who have crawled around the Oval with the President and how they’ve been blessed with his presence.

President Obama embraces eight-year-old Amariyanna Copeny, who wrote him a letter asking him to visit her hometown of Flint, Michigan as they battle the devastating water crisis and what she's doing to help. For a fun comparison, this is Amariyanna (also Little Miss Flint) meeting President-Elect T*ump.

President Obama embraces eight-year-old Amariyanna Copeny. May 2016.

Amariyanna wrote President Obama a letter asking him to visit her hometown of Flint, Michigan as they battle the devastating water crisis and what she’s doing to help. For a fun comparison, this is Amariyanna (also Little Miss Flint) meeting President-Elect T*ump.

Feb. 18, 2016 “I had my eye on this youngster while President Barack Obama spoke during a reception at the White House celebrating African American History Month. When the President starting greeting audience members along the rope line, I bent down in front of the young man and captured this moment of the President touching his face before he too bent down to greet him. Afterwards, I tracked down his name — Clark Reynolds — and had the President sign a copy for him.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama says hello to a young Clark Reynolds during an event for African-American History Month. February, 2016

Again, President Obama has of course been a role model to all children who have only known him to be the POTUS, but he’s especially been an iconic figure for many black children and teens who may not feel like they have a place in the American society. To see someone of such power that they can see a little of him in themselves is a moving and magical thing. *After this picture was taken by WH photog Pete Souza, he tracked down Clark’s name and had the President sign a copy for the tot to have.

June 22, 2016 “The great thing about children is you just don’t know what they will do in the presence of the President. So when David Axelrod stopped by the Oval Office with one of his sons’ family, Axe’s granddaughter, Maelin, crawled onto the Vice President’s seat while the President continued his conversation with the adults. Then at one point, Maelin glanced over just as the President was looking back at her.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

David Axelrod’s granddaughter casually crashes one of President Obama’s meetings. June, 2016

Isn’t it weird to think that for the kids whose parents work in the White House that it’s totally the norm they could run into the President of the United States? This pic was taken when former Obama campaign strategist Axelrod stopped by to speak with Barack, and in a pause from the conversation with the adults, he looked over to see little Maelin sitting in VP Joe Biden’s chair. Casually eating an apple because, Michelle.

Oct. 31, 2016 “The President was about to welcome local children for Halloween trick-or-treating when he ran into Superman Walker Earnest, son of Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in the Ground Floor Corridor of the White House. ‘Flex those muscles,’ he said to Walker.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President meets another superhero on Halloween. October, 2016

One of the best events to look at videos from is the annual Halloween parade, and last year, the President ran into Superman aka Walker Earnest, son ofPress Secretary Josh Earnest,. What happened is the most adorable thing that will leave your ovaries in pain. Watch here.

Nov. 8, 2016 “The President had just walked in from the dining room and sitting on the floor in the Oval Office was Evelyn ‘Evie’ Cushman, daughter of Chase Cushman, Director of Scheduling and Advance. He immediately dropped down to his hands and knees and began tossing a ball back and forth with her.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama spends part of Election Day with Evelyn ‘Evie’ Cushman, daughter of Chase Cushman, Director of Scheduling and Advance. November, 2016

Barack spends more time on the floor of the Oval with kids than the President-Elect has lawsuit against him. And that’s a lot. If I had the option to play around on the floor with a tot on Election Day, I would be doing this instead of work too.

Nov. 10, 2016 “A good respite from the day after the election was the visit of Alex Myteberi. The six-year-old boy from New York had written a letter to President Obama after seeing a heart-breaking photograph of Syrian refugee Omran Daqneesh sitting silently in an ambulance, covered in blood and dust, after an air strike on Aleppo. In his letter, Alex wrote to the President: ‘Can you please go get him and bring him to my home. We’ll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers, and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother. The President was so touched by the letter that he read excerpts from it at the United Nations in September. Alex and his family were invited to the Oval Office so the President could tell him in person how much the letter had meant to him.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Six-year-old Alex Myteberi meets with the President after writing a letter asking him to help a young Syrian refugee. November, 2016.

You’ve seen that heartbreaking photo of a young Syrian refugee covered in blood and dust after an air strike in Aleppo. So did Alex. He decided to write to President Obama asking him to help the refugee and bring him to his home in Scarsdale, New York so he could be their new brother. The President read the letter, invited Alex and his family to the White House and even read excerpts from the letter in a speech at the UN. If you’re in the mood for crying (or even if you’re not) watch Alex’s story here.

One Last Time: Obama Week

We’re in the final stretch of President Barack Obama’s presidency, and since we’ve been transparent about our feelings about the election and the future of our country over the past year or so, why stop there? We’re dedicating all next week – the days leading up to the President’s final day in office – to a leader we’ve admired, respected, and genuinely loved over the past eight years. Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments between him and the First Lady, VP Joe Biden, and everyday Americans. Needless to say, we’ll miss you Barry. #ThanksObama

If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on
It outlives me when I’m gone
Like the scripture says:
“Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.”
They’ll be safe in the nation we’ve made
I wanna sit under my own vine and fig tree
A moment alone in the shade
At home in this nation we’ve made
One last time

Live Blog: State of the Union

Watch this space: I’ll be live blogging the State of the Union here starting at 9:00 EST. What can I say, it’s the POTUS’s final SOTU and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. So if you haven’t pledged your  readership to any of the many other SOTU live blogs, come back here tonight – I promise ours will be a lot more fun and 100% less cynical than you’ll find on any political sites.

During the address, be sure to refresh the page periodically to get our latest updates.

9:00 We’ve been promised a “non-traditional” speech. What I’d like that to mean: a song, an elementary school-style skit with Joe Biden as “Narrator”, an interpretive dance, spoken word where the President EMPHASIZES words and employs… pauses… rhetorically.

9:02 According to the commentators, the State of the Union address has already been posted online, if you like reading speeches before you hear them, I guess. Meanwhile over here:

9:07 Everyone is clapping for what seems like an absurdly long time when President Obama enters. I hope this means that the final State of the Union is like the end of senior year of high school, when random people start becoming friendly with each other because they have nothing to gain by being enemies anymore?

9:10 Michelle is in a mustard-y orange & yellow, not even caring that it’s cold because her arms look good and she KNOWS.

9:11 The president promises that the address will be short, which feels like that thing the priest says on Easter morning and it’s always a lie.

9:12 Okay, but Democrats and Republicans do know that the blue/red color code is just for imaginary maps that CNN uses on election night, right? You can all wear all the colors.

9:14 If I were bored at the State of the Union, I’d start counting Tiny American Flag Pins.

9:15 Bernie Sanders looks like he needs a tall glass of orange juice, a nap, and a few hours of sunlight. Campaign life has got to be HARD.

9:20 First topic: the economy. POTUS discusses private sector job growth, gains in auto industry, declining unemployment – but acknowledges changes in economy- automation and outsourcing of jobs causing companies to be less loyal, unequal dispersion of wealth, and less leverage for raises. YES. Basically summarizes my experiences graduating college/starting law school at the beginning of the Great Recession.

9:23 Education is important …. but I’m not so into the reference to No Child Left Behind. Some of those NCLB mandates did much more harm than good. But yes for universal Pre-K!

9:25 That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them. – Obama discusses filling the gaps in employer-based care so that people are still covered (because no, COBRA didn’t really do that).

9:29 Now Obama has to do that dance where he pledges to tackle imbalances that favor large corporations, while affirming that he REALLY LIKES THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

9:31 Okay, we’re getting into it now: Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts.

9:32 Talking about American innovation and creativity, the POTUS sort of drags up the Space Race like we’re all secretly still a bit salty about Sputnik.

9:35 Obama declares that America will be the nation to cure cancer – and honestly. We should be. We’re one of the most populous and wealthiest countries on Earth with a solid (though flawed) educational system. I somehow doubt that a lack of brainpower isn’t what has stopped it from happening yet. Let’s get that going.

9:37 From there, Obama goes to climate change. While most reasonable minds agree that clean energy at the LEAST can’t hurt, roughly 25% of the audience starts shifting uncomfortably in their seats and making frowny faces.

9:39 The President says we should be “putting tens of thousands of Americans to work” building 21st century transportation. Sounds a lot like a modern-day New Deal type situation. All of the public sector WPA jobs did great things to stabilize incomes during the Depression, and I’ve been wondering why we haven’t been copying that during the Recession.

9: 42 I’m so interested in how some politicians/outlets use the ISIL acronym and others ISIS (with SISI a distant third).

9:45 There is some minor grumbling when Obama says that ISIL “do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit.” But he’s absolutely correct: by definition, terrorists use fear to operate – which includes instigating the U.S. to take offensive action, thereby further stirring anti-Western sentiments in unstable states.

9:49 On a totally different note, sometimes Paul Ryan’s hairline looks like a heart.

9:50 REMEMBER EBOLA.

9:54 If you’re on Twitter right now, do yourself a favor and start following the #Ham4SOTU tag.

10:03 Obama discusses the necessity for voting reform (yes!), or for those rapping along, corruption’s such an old song that we can sing in harmony, and nowhere is it stronger than in Albany.

10:07 But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far.

Hamiltunes translation:

“Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.”
They’ll be safe in the nation we’ve made
I wanna sit under my own vine and fig tree
A moment alone in the shade
At home in this nation we’ve made
One last time

10:10 Obama closes: “That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”

But of course, I fill in “Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” after “clear-eyed.” Because Obama is like a combination of Coach and Mrs. Coach, and to mix pop culture references, now he’ll have to teach us how to say goodbye.

 

 

How I Spent My State Of The Union

A totally off-character confession: I’m just not that into the State of the Union. I say “off-character” because I’m a politically engaged law school grad who spends all day sorting out legal issues. And because I was once this child:

WTF even is a Susan B. Anthony Contest? I have no recollection of this, so I suppose it is a contest that you find out you’ve won decades after you put in the work. Fitting.

But the SOTU isn’t that interesting. Everything the president will say has been sussed out and leaked already. And the president never drops major new information, anyway. The address never starts with “Well guys, the union’s not doing so great” or “Man, has anyone noticed that the union really went down the shitter this year?” If it did, I’d be way more into it.

Still,  I can’t just skip the State Of The Union.  I want to know what all of the jokes are about the next day. So I watch it – grudgingly – but fill my time in other ways too.

I didn’t look up for the first 15 minutes of the speech because I was cleaning and polishing my shoes. Like doing my nails, the effect was so good that I swore I was going to make this part of my regular upkeep and maintenance. If you’re reading this and thinking “oh, I never really polish my shoes” – DO IT. And if you’re reading this and thinking “you dumb slob, that’s part of my Sunday night routine every week,” CAN IT. I feel bad enough already.

So then I did look up at the screen, and spent a while wondering if there’s a special tie-language. Was Boehner’s violet tie a coded message for “Bipartisan as fuck?” Was Biden’s striped tie conveying “red states and blue states working together, but I’d really like to mute the red to a nice soft coral?”

I scanned the crowd for people falling asleep, which is also a good way to entertain yourself at religious services. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was definitely getting some nods in. As we tell my nieces and nephews, even heroes have bedtimes.

I look at Boehner, and wonder if we are all living in a Neil Gaiman story where the real John Boehner has been replaced with one made entirely out of leather.

Then I stop looking up again, because I was tossing clothes to donate into a trash bag. Since I read Marie Kondo’s ever-so-slightly whackadoo book I feel like I can’t get rid of enough things. I’ve mentioned it here before and will keep doing so in the hope that someone finds this in a Google search and explains to me how you’re supposed to fold and store bras.

One fun SOTU activity is counting how many times Obama makes references to things that he’s pretty sure everyone likes. I count children, Instagram, and Pope Francis.

Another fun one is to watch for the Politics Of Clapping. For the first 10 minutes, people clap after every sentence and I wonder if their palms hurt. The clapping slows later on, but you can still watch GOP members pointedly not clapping frequently. They really have to pay attention though, because you can’t pointedly not clap when the POTUS says something nice about veterans or teachers.

Okay, and then I got real existential for a while and thought about time. It feels like the 2008 election just happened, but for kids today this administration is spanning their entire childhood. I remember watching Bill Clinton get sworn in to his first term in my first-grade computer classroom with those giant yellow-white monitors with the black screens. And I watched the last day of his last term while chatting with my friends on AIM as a high school freshman. It’s really hard to believe that in a few years, that much time will have passed since 2008.

Then I stopped getting so thoughtful because I was focusing on getting steps in to meet my Fitbit goal (GSI – that’s our abbreviation, feel free to use it!).

Before I knew it, the State of The Union was over for another year. God bless you, and God bless America, and God bless us, everyone.