Obama tries to bounce back after tough week

U.S. President Barack Obama adjusts his tie before receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduation ceremony of the class of 2013 at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia May 19, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama adjusts his tie before receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduation ceremony of the class of 2013 at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia May 19, 2013.

President Barack Obama complained on Sunday that partisan battles in Washington are holding back stronger U.S. economic growth as he tried to recover from one of the most difficult weeks of his presidency.

On a trip to Atlanta, Obama did not specifically mention the three controversies that engulfed his administration last week and raised questions as to how much of his second-term agenda he will be able to achieve.

His message was clear when he told Democratic donors that an American economic revival is being held back by a “tendency in Washington to put politics ahead of policy, to put the next election ahead of the next generation, and that mindset is what we need to change.”

Obama’s appearance in Atlanta came as he seeks to regain his footing from one of his worst weeks since taking office in early 2009.

His Internal Revenue Service was found to have targeted his political tea party opponents for special attention, new questions were raised about security lapses at a U.S. compound in Libya last year where four Americans were killed, and it was revealed that his Justice Department had obtained phone records from Associated Press reporters in a leak probe.

For now, voters seem not to be taking Obama to task. A CNN/ORC International poll released on Sunday showed 53 percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is doing his job, with 45 percent saying they disapprove.

Obama found solace in speaking to donors at an event that raised money for Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate, and at a commencement address to hundreds of African-American graduates at all-male Morehouse College.

To the donors, Obama said Washington needs to get beyond “the kind of short-term tactical partisan thinking that has come to so dominate” the U.S. capital and start trying to get some policy items completed.

He said he remained optimistic that an immigration overhaul is possible despite the tumult.

“It doesn’t mean there’s not going to be some rough and tumble,” he said. “If you get into this business, folks are going to take their shots as you, and I’ve got the gray hair to prove it. But that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me,” he said.

At Morehouse College, thunder rumbled overhead, lightning flashed in the distance and rain fell in buckets as Obama got personal about race.

He urged the students to think about how they can serve the wider community as they move on in life and not just focus on material goods.

“Yes, go get that law degree. But ask yourself if the only option is to defend the rich and powerful, or if you can also find time to defend the powerless,” he said.

Obama often speaks of how he wishes he could have had a father figure in his life growing up. His Kenyan-born father and Kansas-born mother divorced when Obama was a child, and he was raised by his mother and grandparents.

On Sunday, he was more personal than usual, saying his wife, Michelle, “has a long list of my imperfections.”

“My whole life, I’ve tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn’t for my mother and me. I’ve tried to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man,” he said.

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Obama said he ultimately hopes to be remembered not for his record as president but as a family man.

“I know that when I’m on my deathbed someday, I won’t be thinking about any particular legislation I passed, or policy I promoted; I won’t be thinking about the speech I gave, or the Nobel Prize I received. I’ll be thinking about a walk I took with my daughters, a lazy afternoon with my wife, whether I did right by all of them,” he said.

Obama urged the graduates not to make excuses for hard times that may come their way. He said he made his own share of mistakes growing up.

“And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down,” he said.

He said he has tried to use his abilities to help people less fortunate than himself.

“There but for the grace of God, I might be in their shoes,” Obama said. “I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family — and that motivates me.”

Nowadays, he said, people need to look beyond racism and discrimination in order to work together for a country that can compete around the world.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.