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Obama Gives Gracious Speech to Grassroots Tea Party Movement

4:51 PM, Apr 29, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Barack Obama took a few moments at a town hall in Missouri today to address the 300,000 activists who showed up at Tax Day Tea Parties across the nation, protesting out-of-control spending and a growing deficit piled on by the new administration. With his signature eloquence and respect for opposing viewpoints, he both wooed his critics and lauded an American system that makes it possible for them to criticize him:

"You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future."

"Psych! You did it because you're bunch of lunatic right-wingers who don't know what's good for you. Have you ever read 'What's the Matter With Kansas?' Highly recommended."

"For two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive."

"You are nothing like those people."

"We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more."

"And, I inherited it all, and therefore have a mandate to make anything I complained about on the campaign trail demonstrably worse. Like, the deficit!"

"These are the policies I will pursue. And in the [years] ahead, I look forward to debating them with [you].

But what I will not do is suggest that the [you] take your positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism."

"I will, however, suggest that you take your positions because someone on Fox News told you to. Let's face it, you 'bitter clingers' have always been too myopic and small-minded to make decisions in good faith."

"Behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes."

"Unless you disagree with me, at which point you cease to be decent, generous or compassionate. Sorry. Sucks for you. Better get to uniting!"

"You are tired of being disappointed and tired of being let down. You're tired of hearing promises made and plans proposed in the heat of a campaign only to have nothing change when everyone goes back to Washington."

"About that. That position only had validity under my predecessor."

"Back when I said, 'What began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored; that will not be deterred; that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest - Yes. We. Can.'"

"I did not mean you. You most certainly cannot."

"To those people 'who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.'"

"This time is not different."

"There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President... I will listen to you, especially when we disagree."

"Unless I'm making references to tea bags, 'cause that's been cracking me up ever since I saw it on Anderson Cooper!"