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'We must be partners in progress,' says Obama

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 2/14/2013, 12:18 p.m.

"Hour after hour," the president continued, "a throng of people stayed in line in support of her. Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read 'I Voted.'" Again, there was an eruption of applause and when she was notified that the president was talking about her, she joined the applause, smiling and clapping along with the crowd.

These emotional highpoints were tethered to Obama's very serious concern about climate change as well as manufacturing, infrastructure, clean energy and education, all of which were tied to his overarching desire to improve the employment picture. On foreign policy, there was, of course, the ongoing problem of terrorism, our troops abroad and the threat of rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. It was through an allusion that he addressed the pressing matter of drones that are targeting suspected terrorists without any oversight from Congress.

"That is why my administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations," he said. "Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts. I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we're doing things the right way. So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remain consistent with our laws and systems of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world."

The lack of transparency, particularly in targeting American citizens suspected of being terrorists, has been a grave concern for advocates of human rights.

If the speech wasn't exactly vintage Obama, it was awash with his pragmatism, as well as his penchant to weave in bits of poetry and alliteration--as he did so winningly in his recent inaugural address with "Seneca Falls, to Stonewall to Selma"--it did have those moments of resonance, especially when dealing with the plight of millions of undocumented immigrants and the possible path to citizenship, or his intention to continue to reach across the aisle to his Republican adversaries.

Much of what he proposed in terms of closing the deficit gap, bolstering the economy, tax cuts and spending plans will be met with stiff opposition, sometimes from his own party members. But he knows he's the final arbiter with the trump card of an executive order, and there are many Americans, particularly his most loyal supporters, who are hoping that when he talks about action and executive orders, that some of that may meet some of their unfulfilled dreams.