I know by now you have heard all the jokes told at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The President, as usual, was on his game. But perhaps you didn’t hear what he said at the end, what he said to all the beautiful people and the powerful people and the people who, for better or worse, have incredible influence on what happens to the country.
Or, even if you did hear the president’s final remarks, maybe it would be better to actually read the words and hope against hope that they will have even the smallest effect:
And in these past few weeks, as I’ve gotten a chance to meet many of the first responders and the police officers and volunteers who raced to help when hardship hits, I was reminded, as I’m always reminded when I meet our men and women in uniform, whether they’re in war theater, or here back home, or at Walter Reed in Bethesda — I’m reminded that all these folks, they don’t do it to be honored, they don’t do it to be celebrated. They do it because they love their families and they love their neighborhoods and they love their country.
And so, these men and women should inspire all of us in this room to live up to those same standards; to be worthy of their trust; to do our jobs with the same fidelity, and the same integrity, and the same sense of purpose, and the same love of country. Because if we’re only focused on profits or ratings or polls, then we’re contributing to the cynicism that so many people feel right now.
And so, those of us in this room tonight, we are incredibly lucky. And the fact is, we can do better — all of us. Those of us in public office, those of us in the press, those who produce entertainment for our kids, those with power, those with influence — all of us, including myself, we can strive to value those things that I suspect led most of us to do the work that we do in the first place — because we believed in something that was true, and we believed in service, and the idea that we can have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of the people around us.
And that’s our obligation. That’s a task we should gladly embrace on behalf of all of those folks who are counting on us; on behalf of this country that’s given us so much.