4th of July Pool Report – The Obama Family’s Backyard Bash

The Obama Family’s Backyard Bash

Shortly after 7 p.m., the president spoke for about 7 or 8 minutes. He thanked
American servicemen and women for the job they do for the country, and paid
special attention to the recent handover of security in Iraq’s cities. “Because
of what you did,” he said, “a sovereign and united Iraq has taken control of its
own destiny.” Obama cautioned that there would be more violence ahead, which,
he said, is why U.S. forces were still needed there, but he again made the point
that Iraq “is in the hands of its own people.”

Obama spoke, from a written text, at a podium set up on the State Floor balcony
of the South Portico. His wife and daughters were at his side. Arrayed behind
them were 21 servicemen and one woman, selected by their own branches of the
Armed Forces and praised by the president as “heroes.”

Obama took note of the special significance that July Fourth has for one member
of his family, daughter Malia, who turned 11 today (and sported a bright
American flag face-painting on her right cheek). Malia “is just thrilled that
you are all here,” her father said. “When she was young, I used to say that all
these fireworks were for her. I’m not sure she buys that” any more. (The girls
were on prominent display at the family-friendly event. At one point, the First
Lady gently picked up Sasha’s hand to encourage her to wave; after his remarks,
Obama kissed the birthday girl on the head).

Obama compared his party to similar bashes in “backyards . . . all across
America” and saluted what it means to be an American and the extraordinary
effort it took to create the country 233 years ago. See the transcript.

As the Marine Band (which heralded Obama’s arrival with a series of tunes,
including Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”) cued up its medley of service
anthems, a man in the crowd shouted, “You’re the man, Mr. President.” That
brought a smile from Obama and a big round of applause and cheers from the
audience.

After the Marine musicians marched off, Obama and the First Lady descended the
steps and worked a rope line for almost 20 minutes, carefully skipping over your
pool and ignoring shouted attempts at questions.

The first Obama White House backyard Fourth celebration was quite a party,
particularly if you were a kid. There were games (volleyball, mini-basketball,
facepainting), an Uncle Sam on stilts and festive party decorations (a big
American flag made out of balloons; pinwheels, stuck in the grassy centerpieces,
which twirled in a mild, light breeze under an overcast sky). In addition to
invited members of all branches of the military, some of whom bore physical
scars of their service, there were also senior members of the administration,
selected members of the news media, and their guests on hand.

Faces spotted at random in the crowd included AG Eric Holder, White House
adviser Valerie Jarrett, press secretary Robert Gibbs (gamboling with his son on
the big West Wing play set), social secretary Desiree Rogers, Obama chums Martin
Nesbitt and Dr. Eric Whitaker, and Mike Allen of Politico.

The All-American menu included hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, potato salad,
corn on the cob, garden salad with walnuts and cheese, ice cream, lemonade, Coke
and Pepsi products, Sam Adams Light and Stoudts American Pale Ale (with a big
American flag on the label) from the Adamstown, PA microbrewery.

The USO show, which followed after your pool was escorted out, featured the Foo
Fighters, Michelle Branch and Jimmy Fallon. That part of the evening was
strictly closed press. However, the White House streamed live video of the show
on the White House website.

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