Two days before the country was set to celebrate Constitution Day, President Obama decided to invoke the words of another founding document: the Declaration of Independence. Except he changed the words.
Towards the end of a speech on September 15 to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Obama began quoting the famous “rights” line from the founding document. But partway through, he omitted where those rights come from: a Creator.
The line is supposed to read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
But Obama’s recitation left out an important part: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. [Long Pause] Endowed with certain inalienable [sic] rights: life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
After President Obama says “created equal..”, there is a long pause during which he scowls and blinks several times. For once, he may actually have opted to not read something that was on the teleprompter. It looks like he is disgusted and decided it would be better not to read what the [Declaration] actually says.
So, did he just forget the words, maybe couldn’t see the lines, or did he leave them out intentionally? You decide:
Over at CBN, David Brody says the Declaration quote was not part of the president’s prepared remarks, and suggests that the omission was the result of an on-the-fly addition:
If you look at President Obama’s prepared remarks before the speech was delivered, the Declaration of Independence line was not in there so clearly President Obama ad-libbed the line…and gets it wrong.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest talked to Brody about the incident, and said that “The President is in full agreement with the Declaration of Independence. Any suggestion to the contrary is just silly.”
Below are the prepared remarks obtained by The Blaze (the relevant part is in italics, and paragraph breaks were inserted based on the president’s delivered remarks):
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
September 15, 2010
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 33rd Annual Award GalaWashington, D.C.
September 15, 2010 As Prepared for Delivery—Thank you to Senator Menendez; and to the Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congresswoman Velázquez, for those generous introductions. Thank you to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for inviting us this evening. Michelle and I are thrilled to be here with so many friends to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month.
I want to acknowledge a few folks. First, our extraordinary Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Two of our outstanding Cabinet secretaries are here tonight: Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar; and our Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
Thank you to our Mistress of Ceremonies, Soledad O’Brien. Congratulations to Eva Longoria Parker, Arturo Sandoval, and Lin-Manuel Miranda on your well-deserved awards this evening.
And thank you to all the Members of Congress, local elected officials, CHCI alumni, and all who work day in and day out to advance the Hispanic community and America as a whole. And I want to acknowledge and thank all the Latino leaders serving across my Administration. I’m proud that the number of Latinos I’ve nominated to Senate-confirmed positions at this point far exceeds that of any administration in history, and I’m just as proud that a large number are Latinas. In fact, as I’ve said before, one of the proudest moments of my presidency was the day Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore an oath, ascended to our nation’s highest court, and sparked new dreams for countless young girls all across America.
I first joined you here two years ago, as a candidate for this office. We spoke then about how after years of failed policies in Washington, after decades of putting off our toughest challenges, we had reached a tipping point – a point where the fundamental promise of America was at risk.
We talked about how these challenges impacted the Latino community, but also about how they’re bigger than any one community. That if a young child is stuck in an overcrowded and underperforming school, it doesn’t matter if she is black or white or Latino, she is our child. That if millions of Latinos end up in the emergency room because they don’t have health care, it’s not just a problem for one community, but for our country. That when millions of immigrants toil in the shadows of our society, that’s not just a Latino problem; it’s an American problem. And we have to solve it.
As Dr. King told Cesar Chavez all those years ago: our separate struggles are really one. That truth became painfully clear when, less than one week after we met, some of the biggest Wall Street firms collapsed and the bottom fell out of our economy. Millions of families across America were plunged into the deepest recession of our lifetimes. And a Latino community that had been hard-hit before the recession was hit even harder.
So when I took office, I insisted that we could only rebuild our economy if we started growing the economy for all our people – if we provided economic security for all our working families. We had to renew the fundamental idea that everybody in America has a chance to make it if they try – no matter who they are, what they look like, where they come from, or where they were born.
That’s the idea that drives us. The chance to make of our lives what we will. And I know that many of you are thinking tonight about a task that is central to that idea – and that’s our fight to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Now, I know that many of you campaigned hard for me, and you’re disappointed we haven’t been able to move this over the finish line yet. I am too. But let me be clear: I will not walk away from this fight. My commitment to getting this done as soon as we can is real. We cannot keep kicking this challenge down the road.
There’s no doubt the debate over how to fix all this has been a fractured, often painful one. Some seek political upside in distorting the facts and dividing our people. Some take advantage of economic anxiety to stoke fear of those who look, or think, or worship differently – to inflame passions between “us” and “them.”
Well, I have news for them: it won’t work. Because there is no “us” and “them.” In this country, there is only “us.” There is no Latino America or Black America or White America or Asian America. There is only the United States of America.
If we appeal to the American people’s hopes over their fears, we’ll get this done. We already know what this reform looks like. Just a few years ago, when I was a senator, we built a bipartisan coalition around it under the leadership of Senator Kennedy, Senator McCain, and President Bush. We rallied with leaders from the business, labor, and religious communities. Many of you were there. The bill we forged wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t what any one person wanted, but because folks were willing to compromise, we came up with commonsense, comprehensive reform that was far from the false debates of an unfair mass amnesty or an unworkable mass deportation. And we passed that bill through the Senate.
But since that effort fell apart, we have also seen how broken, bitter and divisive our politics has become. Today, the folks who yell loudest about the federal government’s long failure to fix this problem are some of the same folks standing in the way of good faith efforts to fix it. And under the pressures of partisanship and election year politics, most of the 11 Republican senators who voted for that reform just four years ago have backed far away from that vote today.
That’s why states like Arizona have taken matters into their own hands. And my administration has challenged that state’s law – not just because it risks the harassment of citizens and legal immigrants, but because it’s the wrong way to deal with this issue. It interferes with federal immigration enforcement. It makes it more difficult for local law enforcement to do its job. It strains state and local budgets. And if other states follow suit, we’ll have an unproductive and unworkable patchwork of laws across the country.
We need an immigration policy that works; a policy that meets the needs of families and businesses while honoring our tradition as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. We need it for the sake of our economy, our security, and our future. It may not be the easy thing to do politically. But I didn’t run for President to do what’s easy. I ran to do what’s hard. I ran to do what’s right. And when I think something’s the right thing to do, I think even my critics would have to admit I’m pretty persistent. They can call me a lot of things, but they can’t say I’m not persistent.
And the Senate’s going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. In the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be again. I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform.
But look – to make real progress on these or any issues, we’ve got to break the Republican leadership’s blockade. Let’s be clear about this. Without the kind of bipartisan effort we had just a few short years ago, we can’t get these reforms across the finish line. But their leadership has made reaching 60 votes the norm for nearly everything the Senate has to do. And the American people’s business is on hold because, simply put, the other party’s platform has been “no.”
For example, consider the public servants I’ve nominated to carry out that business. Most of them have been supported widely and approved unanimously by Senate committees. But they’ve been held up for months by the Republican leadership. They can’t even get an up-or-down vote on their confirmation. I nominated a man you all know well, Raul Yzaguirre, to be our Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He’s been waiting for 10 months. Right now, there are 21 judges who’ve been held up for months while their courts have sat empty. Three of them are Hispanic – like Judge Albert Diaz, who I nominated to the Fourth Circuit Court. He’s been waiting for 10 months. This is a widely-respected state court judge, military judge, and Marine Corps attorney. He was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. But just last month, the Senate Republican leader objected to a vote on his confirmation yet again. When he was asked why, he basically admitted it was simple partisan payback. Partisan payback.
We can’t afford that kind of game-playing right now. We need serious leaders for serious times. That’s the kind of leadership this moment demands. That’s what we need right now. Because when I get out and talk with folks, no one’s asking me, “Hey, Barack, which party’s scoring more points?” No one’s saying, “Oh, don’t worry about us; I just want you to do what’s best for November.”
What they’re interested in is how they’re going to find a job when they’ve only known one trade their whole life. How they’re going to put their kids through college. How they’re going to pay the bills if they get sick. How they’re going to retire when their savings are so beat up. They’re the folks we’re here for. They’re the folks we’re fighting for.
That’s why we passed Wall Street reform – for every hard-working family who’s tired of getting taken advantage of every time they opened their credit card bill, or mortgage payment, or tried to send money to help their parents and families abroad.
That’s why we’re reforming America’s schools so that all our children have a chance to learn the skills they need for today’s economy. We eliminated tens of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to big banks that provide student loans, and we’re using that money to make college more affordable for millions of students, including more than 100,000 Latino students.
That’s why we passed health insurance reform for Americans who are sick of being gouged by insurance companies that jack up rates and deny coverage because you have a preexisting condition. Now, millions of Americans with insurance can get free preventive care. Now, nine million Latinos and tens of millions of Americans will be able to afford quality health care for the first time.
That’s why we cut taxes for small business owners and 95 percent of working Americans. Instead of giving tax breaks to corporations to create jobs overseas, we’re cutting taxes for companies that put our people to work here at home. Instead of tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t ask for them; we’re fighting to cut taxes for the middle class. That’s what we’re about. That’s what we’re fighting for.
But you know what? When it comes to just about everything we’ve tried to do, almost every Republican in Congress folded their arms and said no. Even where we usually agree, they say no. They think it’s better to score political points than actually solve problems. So they said no to help for small businesses. No to middle-class tax cuts. No to making college affordable. No to comprehensive immigration reform. Their platform, apparently, is “no se puede.” Is that a bumper sticker you want on your car?
In fact, the chairman of their campaign committee said that if they take over, they’d go back to “the exact same agenda” they had for much of the decade. They’re saying they’ll repeal Wall Street reform and health insurance reform. They’ll give the special interests a pen and let them write the rules again.
And right now, because of that Republican blockade, those special interests – even foreign corporations – can spend tens of millions of dollars on campaign ads without even having to disclose who they are. They can call themselves “Americans for Apple Pie” or “Moms for Motherhood,” and use their voice to drown out yours. To let Wall Street write rules that take advantage of Main Street. To let insurance companies write rules that let them cover or drop folks whenever and however they please. To go back to that “exact same agenda.”
Well, that agenda didn’t work out so well for Latinos. That agenda didn’t work out so well for anybody in our country. And it’s not going to solve the challenges we face. You have every right to keep the heat on me and the Democrats, and I hope you do.
But don’t forget who is standing with you, and who is standing against you. Don’t ever believe that this election coming up doesn’t matter. Don’t forget who secured health care for 4 million children, including the children of legal immigrants. Don’t forget who won new Pell Grants for more than 100,000 Latino students. Don’t forget who fought for credit card reform, a new agency to protect consumers from predatory lending, and protections for folks who send remittances back home. Don’t forget who cut taxes for working families. Don’t forget who your friends are. No se olviden. We cannot go back.
Not now. Not when there is so much work to be done. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to move forward on jobs, on the economy, on immigration reform, on all the unfinished business of our time. These are serious times that require serious leaders and serious citizens, and your voice matters. Your voice can make the difference. Si, se puede.
Let me close by saying this. Long before America was even an idea, this land of plenty was home to many peoples. To British and French, Dutch and Spanish, Mexican and countless Indian tribes. We all shared the same land. We didn’t always get along, of course. But over the centuries, what eventually bound us together – what made us Americans – was not a matter of blood or birth, but rather faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.
That’s what makes us unique. That’s what makes us strong. The ability to recognize our common humanity; to remember that in this country, equality and opportunity are not just words to be said, but promises to be kept.
That is our calling now – to keep those promises for the next generation. No matter which way the political winds shift, I will stand with you for that better future. And if you’ll stand with me; if we remember that fundamental truth: that divided we fall, but united we are strong, and out of many, we are one; then you and I will finish what we’ve started. We will make sure that America forever remains an idea and a place that is big enough and bold enough and brave enough to accommodate the dreams of all our children and all our peoples for all our years to come.
Thank you, God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America. ###
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