tv President Obama Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President... CSPAN January 13, 2017 12:08pm-12:49pm EST
on afterwards, new york magazine magazine columnist looks at the presidential record of barack obama in his book audacity, how barack obama defied his critics and created a lot legacy that will prevail. he's interviewed by jim acosta. >> i think the future ought to be liberals recognizing the success of this administration, embracing it and defending it going forward the way you do with lincoln and roosevelt. i think obama is the closest thing we've gotten in american history to that kind of successful president and should be defended by americans from the center to the left. >> on 7:15 p.m. eastern on sunday, radio host on the role religion has played throughout american history in his latest book the american miracle, divine providence in the rise of the republic. go to book tv.org for for the complete we can schedule.
>> president obama paid tribute to his vp joe biden yesterday and surprised him by awarding him the highest civilian honor in the us, the medal of freedom. the ceremony took place in the white house. it is about 40 minutes. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the president and vice president of the united states. [applause]
everybody. as i have already delivered my farewell address i will try to be relatively brief. i just wanted to get folks together to pay tribute to somebody who's not only been by my side for the duration of this amazing journey, but somebody who is has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country. the best of vice america has ever had, mr. joe biden. [applause] [applause] let's also give the internet one last chance to talk about our bro romance.
[laughter] this has been quite a ride. it was eight and a half years ago i chose joe to be my vice president. there has not been a single moment since that time that i have doubted the wisdom of that decision. he was the best possible choice not just for me, but for the american people. this is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service. this is somebody the people of delaware sent to the senate as quickly as they possibly could. elected at age 29 for more than a dozen years he served as chair of judiciary or foreign relationship committees. he championed landmark legislation to make our community safer, to protect our women from violence. internationally his wisdom and
capacity to build relationships has shaped our nation's response to the fall of the berlin wall and the iron curtain, to counterterrorism in iraq and afghanistan and for the past eight years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we have made. he fought to make college more affordable and revitalize american manufacturing as the head of our middle class task force. he suited up for our moonshot giving hope for millions of americans touched by this disease. he led the efforts to combat gun violence and rooted out any possible misappropriations that might've occurred, and as a consequence the recovery act worked as well as just about any large-scale stimulus project has ever worked in this country.
he visited college after college and made friends with lady gaga for its on-off campaign against campus sexual assault and when the pope visited, joe was kind enough to let me talk to his holiness as well. behind the scenes, his honest counsel has made me a better president and a better commander-in-chief. from the situation room to our lunches and our huddles after everybody else had cleared out of the room, he has been unafraid to give it to me straight, even if we disagree. in fact, especially when we disagree, and all of this makes him, i believe, the finest vice president we have ever seen, and i also think he has been a lion of american history. the best part is, he's nowhere close to finished.
in the years ahead, as a citizen, he will, he will continue to build on that legacy internationally and domestically. he's got the voice of vision and reason and optimism and love for people, and we are going to need that spirit and that vision as we continue to try to make our world safer and make sure everyone has a fair shot in this country. all told, that's a pretty remarkable legacy and an amazing career in public service. it is, as joe once said, a big deal. [laughter] [applause] but, we all know that on its own , his work, his his list of accomplishments and amazing
resume does not capture the full character of joe biden. i have not mentioned amtrak or aviators, literally. [laughter] folks don't just feel like they know joe, the politician, they they feel like they know the person. what makes him laugh ,-comma what he believes ,-comma what he cares about and where he came from. pretty much every time he speaks , he treats us to some wisdom from the nuns who taught him in grade school or an old senate colleague, but most frequently cited catherine joseph senior, his mom and dad. no one is better than you, but you're better than nobody. bravery resides in every heart and yours is fierce and clear.
when you get knocked down joey, get up, get up. [laughter] [applause] before he got those broad shoulders, that's where where he got that biden heart. through his life in trial after trial he has not once forgotten the moral fiber that has made him what he is. that's what feels his faith in god and america and in his friends and in all of us. when joe talks to autoworkers whose livelihood he helped saved, wiese heard the son of a man who once knew the pain that he had to tell his kids he lost
his job. when joe talks about open opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so he could be there to talk his kids into bed. when joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young boy who used to stand in front of the mirror studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter. when joe talks to gold star families who lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit, another father of an american veteran, someone whose faith has been tested and was forced to wander through the darkness himself and who knows who to lean on to find the light. that is joe biden, a resilient and loyal and humble servant, and a patriot, but most of all a family man. it starts with jill, captain of the vice squad, only the second lady in our history to keep her regular day job. [applause]
jill says teaching is and what she does, it's who she is. a few days after joe and i were inaugurated in 2009, she was back in the classroom teaching. that's when our administration worked to strengthen community colleges, we looked to jill to lead the way. she has also traveled the world to boost up education and empowerment for women, and as a blue star mom, her work with michelle to honor our military families will go down in history as one of the most lasting and powerful efforts of this administration. like joe, jill's work is only part of the story. she just seems to walk this earth so lightly, she spreads her joy so freely, and she
reminds us that although we are in a serious business, we don't have to take ourselves too seriously. she she is quick with a laugh or practical joke, disguising herself at a server at up party she once hosted to live in the mood. she once hid in the overhead compartment of air force to to scare the senior staff, because why not. she seems to have a six sense of when to send a note of encouragement to a friend or staffer, simple thank you or a box of macaroons. she is one of the best, most genuine people that i have met, not just in politics but my entire life print she preaches grounded and generous and caring and funny, and that is why joe is proud to introduce himself as jill biden's husband. to see them together is to see what love looks like. it's an all-american love story
and jill once surprised joe by painting hearts on his office window for valentine's day. and then there are these biden kids and grandkids, they're everywhere, they're all good-looking. hunter and ashley who lived out that family creed of raising good families and looking out for the least of our brothers and sisters. bo was watching over us with his broad shoulders and mighty heart himself. a man who left a beautiful legacy and inspired an entire nation. naomi and finn and maisie and natalie and little hunter, grandchildren who are the light of joe's eyes and gives him an excuse to bust out the squirt gun around the pool. this is the kind of family that built this country. that's why my family is so proud to call ourselves honorary bidens.
because i had to quote an irish poet, think where man's glory most begins and ends and say my glory was i had such friends. away from the camera, jill and michelle have each other's back just as much as when they're out championing our troops. our girls are close, best friends at school, inviting each other for vacations and sleepovers. even though our term is almost over, one of the greatest gifts is that we are forever bonded as a family. of course i know the obama's are not the only ones who feel like they are part of the biden clan, because joe's heart has radiated around this room. you see it in the enduring friendships he's forged with
folks of every stripe and background on capitol hill. you see it in the way his eyes light up when he find someone in the rope line from scranton or just the tiniest towns in delaware. you see it in the incredible loyalty of his staff, the team who knows that family always comes before work because joe tells them so every day, the team that reflects his bosses humble service, here in the building where there has been no turf wars between our staff because everybody here has understood we are all on the same mission and share the same values. there has just been cooperation and, rodrigue, and that is rare. it's a testament to joe and the tone that he set. finally you see his heart in the way he consoles families. dealing with cancer backstage after an event, when he meets kids fighting through a stutter of their own. he gives them his private phone number and keeps in touch with
them long after. to know joe biden is to know that love without pretense, service without self regard, and to live life fully. as one of his long-time colleagues in the senate, who happened to be republican emma once said, if you can't admire joe biden as a person, you've got a problem. he's a as good a man that god ever created. so, for your love of country and your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, i would like to ask the military aid to join us on stage. for the final time as president, i am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the presidential medal of freedom.
i am proud to give the medal of freedom with distinction to joe biden. please read the citation. >> vice president joseph r biden junior, in a career of public service spanning nearly half a century, vp joseph r biden junior has left his mark on almost every part of our nation, fighting for a stronger middle-class, a fair judicial system, and a smarter foreign policy, providing unyielding support for our troops, combating crime unyielding support for our troops, combating crime and violence against women, leading our quest to cure cancer and safeguarding the landmark, american recovery and investment act from corruption. with his charm, candor, unabashed optimism, unabashed optimism and deep and abiding patriotism, joe biden has garnered the respect and esteem of both parties and the friendship of people across the
nation and around the world. while summoning the strength, faith and grace to overcome great personal tragedy, the son of scranton, claimant claymont and wilmington has become one of the most controversial vice president in history. an accolade that rests behind his legacy as husband, father and grandfather. a grateful nation thinks joseph r biden junior for his lifetime of service on behalf of the united states of america. [applause]
[applause] thank you. rashad he, you're fired. [laughter] [laughter] to the press, he is my chief of staff. i had no inkling. i thought we were coming over with michelle and you jill, for barack and i and a couple senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it's been. mr. president, you got right the
part about my leaning on jill, but i've also leaned on you and a lot of people on this room. i look around the room and i see great friends like ted kaufman who has given so much wisdom. i look around here and i am startled. i keep seeing people i don't expect. mr. president, i look at my new boss over there. you know, i get a lot of credit i don't deserve, to state the obvious. i've always had somebody to lean on. from the time in 1972 when an accident happened. i mean this in the literal
sense. chris knows this, god knows this, mel knows this and ted knows this. i leaned on my son beau and hunter. i continue to lean on hunter who continues, in a bizarre bizarre kind of way, raise me. i leaned on him. mr. president, you observed early on that when one of my boys would walk into the room, they would walk up and say, dad what dad what can i get you? what do you need? then jill came along and she saved her life. no man deserves one great love let alone two. , but everybody knows here i am jill's husband. everybody knows that i love her more than she loves me, with good reason. [laughter]
and she gave me the most processed gift, the love of my life, the, the life of my love, my daughter ashley. i continue to lean on the family mr. president, you you kidded me once, you heard in preparation for the two debates, the vice presidential debates, i only had two that bo and hunt would be the last people in the road and they would say look at me dad, look at me, remember homebase. remember. when the secret service can tell you, mr. president, that beau and hunter and ashley continue to have to corral me. we were at a national park and i was climbing up to jump off the bridge with a bunch of young kids and i hear my sons yelling, dad get down. now. and i just started laughing so hard i couldn't stop.
i said, i'm just going to do of flip, a full gainer off here. they said, dad, the secret service doesn't want you up there, dad. look at me dad. so, we've never figured out who the father is in this family. mr. president, you know with good reason, there is no power in the vice presidency. as a matter fact, i, i just did for nancy pelosi's daughter a reading of the constitution and they had me read the provisions relating to the vice presidency in the constitution. there is no inherent power, nor should should there be. so mr. president, you have more than kept your commitment to me by saying that you wanted me to
help govern. presidents line, some won't hear it very often but when you can hear people say can you get to joe do such and such you hear him say i don't do his schedule and he doesn't do mine. everything you've asked me to do, you have trusted me to do. that is a remarkable thing. i don't think, according to, i see the president of georgetown is here as well, i don't think according to the presidential and vice presidential scholars, that kind of relationship has existed, i mean, for real. it's all you mr. pres. it's all all you. the reason why you sent me around the world, nothing gets missed between the cup and the lip because they know when i speak i speak for you and it's
been easy because we not only have the same political philosophy and ideology, i tell everybody and i've told them from the beginning, and i'm not just saying this to reciprocate, i've never known a president, and few people i've ever met, my whole life, i can count on less than one hand to have the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people's needs like you do. i know you were upset when i tell the story about when hunter and i were worried that as matter of honorable would step down as attorney general while he was fighting his battle
because he had aphasia and was losing his ability to speak. you didn't want to be in a position where to him, everything everything was about duty and honor, and i said, he may resign, i don't know, i just have just have a feeling he may resign. he doesn't have any other income but were alright because hunter is there and i can sell the house. we were having a private ones like we do once a week and this man got up and came over and grab me by the shoulders and looked me in the eye and said don't you sell that house. you love that house. i said it's no big deal mr. pres. he set out give you the money. we will give you the money. promise me, promise me you won't sell that house. i remember when ashley, mr. president, we were in the oval, and ashley was in the elevator, and the elevated plummeted, she was with a group of people in philadelphia, and the elevator plummeted to the ground. immediately immediately the service was worried that she may
have been badly hurt. i got up to take the call and you didn't let up until you made sure your service followed through and made sure everything was all right. you know mr. president, we kid about marrying up. we both did that kind of thing, but the the truth of the matter is, i said this to michelle last night, michelle is the finest first lady in my view that has ever served in the office. there are other great first ladies, but i genuinely mean it. [applause] [applause] when i got to meet michelle's
brother, and he told me about how you guys were raised, and i got to know and love your mom, if your mom or 15 years older, she could have been my mom. literally, the way you were raised, the way, the way we were raised, there wasn't any difference. i knew that this decision to join you, which is the greatest honor of my life, was the right decision on the night we had to go and accept the nomination, to be formally nominated at the convention. then again who is now 18 years old was ten years old. she came to me and said pop, is it okay if the room that we are in, finnegan, maisie, maisie and naomi, that we have the beds taken out? i said why? she said maybe the
obama girls and your brother's children, maybe they can all come down and sleep together in sleeping bags. i gave you my word is a biden, i knew when i left to go over to the convention, open the door and saw them cuddled together, i knew this was the right decision i knew it was the right decision, i really did. mr. president, the same value set, the same value set. folks, i joke with my staff that i don't know why pay them anything because they get to advise me. [laughter] let me explain by a mean. my heart resides in my home campus of delaware. they can tell you i get to give you advice. i get to be the last guy in the
room and give you advice in the most difficult decisions anyone has to make a whole world, but i get to walk out and you make it all by yourself. all by yourself. harry truman was right about the buck stopping here. i've never, never, never once doubted on his life and death decisions. i never once doubted that you are judgment was flawed, not once. we've disagreed, and we've argued and we raised our voices and made a deal that would be completely open, like brothers, with one another. mr. president, i watched you under intense fire. i will venture to say that no
president in history has had as many novel crises land on his desk in all of history. the civil war, world war ii, world world war i was worse, but almost every one of the crisis you faced from the first instance, i watched that heart as big as your head, i've watched you, i've watched how you've acted. when you see a woman or man under intense pressure, you get a measure, and you know that michelle, and your daughters know it as well. this is a remarkable man. i just hope that what's remembered in history when it's attached to my name in this presidency is that i can say
jill and i talk about why you were able to develop the way you are developed with the heart you have. michelle and i talked about it, i've confided confided in michelle, i've gone to her for advice, we've talked about this man, you give me insight, and i think it's because, mr. president, you gave me credit for having an understanding of other people's misery and suffering. mr. president, there is not one single ounce of entitlement in you or michelle or your beautiful daughters. you girls are incredible. you really are. that's not hyperbole. not 1 ounce of entitlement.
the poet once said, when you can find someone who says it better, use it. he said, you carried your own burden and very soon your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared. you carried your own burdens and very soon the creeping symptoms of privilege disappeared. mr. president, you have sometimes been like a lone wolf, but you carried yourself in a way that is pretty remarkable. history is a journey. your journey is something people will write about for a long time i'm not being solicitous when i say this, you are so fortunate, both of you, to have found each
other because all that grounding, all that that you have, made this guy totally whole, and that's pretty amazing mr. president, this honor is not only well beyond what i deserve, but it's a reflection on the extent and generosity of your spirit. i don't deserve this, but i know it came from the presidents heart.
there is a talmudic saying that says what comes from the heart enters the heart. mr. president, you have creeped into our heart, you and your whole family, including mom, and you occupy it. it's an amazing thing that happened. i knew how smart you are, i knew how honorable you were, i knew how decent you were from the couple of years you worked in the senate, and i and i knew what you were capable of. i never fully expected that you would occupy the biden's heart of hunter, ashley, my sister, all of us, and mr. president,
i'm indebted to you. i'm indebted to your friendship. i'm indebted to your family. i will tell you, i will end on a humorous note. we were having lunch, and mostly what enters into one another's mind, we talk about family all the time. about six months in, the president looks at me and says, you know joe, don't surprise me, we've become such good friends. i said surprised you? , but that is candidate obama, and it's real and you know as long as there is breath and me, i will be there for you. my whole family will be, and i know it is reciprocal. i want to thank you all so very, very, very much.