Click here to Download A Promised Land PDF Book by Barack Obama Language English having PDF Size 13.3 MB and No of Pages 515.
For eight years that walkway would frame my day, a minute-long, open-air commute from home to office and back again. It was where each morning I felt the first slap of winter wind or pulse of summer heat; the place where I’d gather my thoughts, ticking through the meetings that lay ahead, preparing arguments for skeptical members of Congress or anxious constituents, girding myself for this decision or that slow-rolling crisis.
A Promised Land PDF Book by Barack Obama
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In the earliest days of the White House, the executive offices and the First Family’s residence fit under one roof, and the West Colonnade was little more than a path to the horse stables. But when Teddy Roosevelt came into office, he determined that a single building couldn’t accommodate a modern staff, six boisterous children, and his sanity.
He ordered construction of what would become the West Wing and Oval Office, and over decades and successive presidencies, the colonnade’s current configuration emerged: a bracket to the Rose Garden north and west—the thick wall on the north side, mute and unadorned save for high half-moon windows; the stately white columns on the west side, like an honor guard assuring safe passage.
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As a general rule, I’m a slow walker—a Hawaiian walk, Michelle likes to say, sometimes with a hint of impatience. I walked differently, though, on the colonnade, conscious of the history that had been made there and those who had preceded me. My stride got longer, my steps a bit brisker, my footfall on stone echoed by the Secret Service detail trailing me a few yards back.
When I reached the ramp at the end of the colonnade (a legacy of FDR and his wheelchair—I picture him smiling, chin out, cigarette holder clenched tight in his teeth as he strains to roll up the incline), I’d wave at the uniformed guard just inside the glass-paned door. Sometimes the guard would be holding back a surprised flock of visitors. If I had time, I would shake their hands and ask where they were from.
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Usually, though, I just turned left, following the outer wall of the Cabinet Room and slipping into the side door by the Oval Office, where I greeted my personal staff, grabbed my schedule and a cup of hot tea, and started the business of the day. Several times a week, I would step out onto the colonnade to find the groundskeepers, all employees of the National Park Service, working in the Rose Garden.
They were older men, mostly, dressed in green khaki uniforms, sometimes matched with a floppy hat to block the sun, or a bulky coat against the cold. If I wasn’t running late, I might stop to compliment them on the fresh plantings or ask about the damage done by the previous night’s storm, and they’d explain their work with quiet pride.
They were men of few words; even with one another they made their points with a gesture or a nod, each of them focused on his individual task but all of them moving with synchronized grace. One of the oldest was Ed Thomas, a tall, wiry Black man with sunken cheeks who had worked at the White House for forty years. The first time I met him, he reached into his back pocket for a cloth to wipe off the dirt before shaking my hand. A Promised Land PDF Book
His hand, thick with veins and knots like the roots of a tree, engulfed mine. I asked how much longer he intended to stay at the White House before taking his retirement. “I don’t know, Mr. President,” he said. “I like to work. Getting a little hard on the joints. But I reckon I might stay long as you’re here. Make sure the garden looks good.” Oh, how good that garden looked!
The shady magnolias rising high at each corner; the hedges, thick and rich green; the crab apple trees pruned just so. And the flowers, cultivated in greenhouses a few miles away, providing a constant explosion of color—reds and yellows and pinks and purples; in spring, the tulips massed in bunches, their heads tilted toward the sun.
In summer, lavender heliotrope and geraniums and lilies; in fall, chrysanthemums and daisies and wildflowers. And always a few roses, red mostly but sometimes yellow or white, each one flush in its bloom. Each time I walked down the colonnade or looked out the window of the Oval Office, I saw the handiwork of the men and women who worked outside. A Promised Land PDF Book
They reminded me of the small Norman Rockwell painting I kept on the wall, next to the portrait of George Washington and above the bust of Dr. King: five tiny figures of varying skin tones, workingmen in dungarees, hoisted up by ropes into a crisp blue sky to polish the lamp of Lady Liberty. The men in the painting, the groundskeepers in the garden—they were guardians, I thought, the quiet priests of a good and solemn order.
And I would tell myself that I needed to work as hard and take as much care in my job as they did in theirs. With time, my walks down the colonnade would accumulate with memories. There were the big public events, of course—announcements made before a phalanx of cameras, press conferences with foreign leaders.
But there were also the moments few others saw—Malia and Sasha racing each other to greet me on a surprise afternoon visit, or our dogs, Bo and Sunny, bounding through the snow, their paws sinking so deep that their chins were bearded white. Tossing footballs on a bright fall day, or comforting an aide after a personal hardship. Such images would often flash through my mind, interrupting whatever calculations were occupying me. A Promised Land PDF Book
They reminded me of time passing, sometimes filling me with longing—a desire to turn back the clock and begin again. This wasn’t possible on my morning walk, for time’s arrow moved only forward then; the day’s work beckoned; I needed to focus on only those things to come. The night was different. On the evening walk back to the residence, my briefcase stuffed with papers, I would try to slow myself down, sometimes even stop.
I’d breathe air laced with the scent of soil and grass and pollen, and listen to the wind or the patter of rain. I sometimes stared at the light against the columns, and the regal mass of the White House, its flag aloft on the roof, lit bright, or I’d look toward the Washington Monument piercing the black sky in the distance, occasionally catching sight of the moon and stars above it, or the twinkling of a passing jet.
The host calls the meeting to order. He or she makes opening remarks. And then, for the next day and a half— with scheduled breaks for one-on-one meetings with other leaders (known as “bilaterals” or “bilats”), a “family photo” (all the leaders lined up and smiling awkwardly, not unlike a third-grade class picture), and just enough time in the late afternoon to go back to your suite. A Promised Land PDF Book Download
And change clothes before dinner and sometimes an evening session—you sit there, fighting off jet lag and doing your best to look interested, as everyone around the table, including yourself, takes turns reading a set of carefully scripted, anodyne, and invariably much-longer-than-thetime-allotted remarks about whatever topic happens to be on the agenda.
Later, after I had a few summits under my belt, I would adopt the survival tactics of more experienced attendees—making sure I always carried paperwork to do or something to read, or discreetly pulling other leaders aside to do a bit of secondary business while others commanded the mic. But for that first G20 summit in London, I stayed in my seat and listened intently to every speaker.
Like the new kid at school, I was aware that others in the room were taking the measure of me, and I figured a bit of rookie humility might go a long way toward rallying people around the economic measures I was there to propose. Each year, it seemed, the prognosis worsened, as an ever-increasing cloud of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases—from power plants. A Promised Land PDF Book Download
Factories, cars, trucks, planes, industrial-scale livestock operations, deforestation, and all the other hallmarks of growth and modernization—contributed to record temperatures. By the time I was running for president, the clear consensus among scientists was that in the absence of bold, coordinated international action to reduce emissions, global temperatures were destined to climb another two degrees Celsius within a few decades.
Past that point, the planet could experience an acceleration of melting ice caps, rising oceans, and extreme weather from which there was no return. The human toll of a rapid climate shift was hard to predict. But the best estimates involved a hellish combination of severe coastal flooding, drought, wildfires, and hurricanes that stood to displace millions of people and overwhelm the capacities of most governments.
This in turn would increase the risk of global conflict and insect-borne disease. Reading the literature, I pictured caravans of lost souls wandering a cracked earth in search of arable land, regular Katrina-sized catastrophes across every continent, island nations swallowed up by the sea. I wondered what would happen to Hawaii, or the great glaciers of Alaska, or the city of New Orleans. A Promised Land PDF Book Download
I imagined Malia, Sasha, and my grandchildren living in a harsher, more dangerous world, stripped of many of the wondrous sights I’d taken for granted growing up. If I aspired to lead the free world, I decided, I’d have to make climate change a priority of my campaign and my presidency. But how? Climate change is one of those issues governments are notoriously bad at dealing with.
Requiring politicians to put in place disruptive, expensive, and unpopular policies now in order to prevent a slow-rolling crisis in the future. Thanks to the work of a few farsighted leaders, like former vice president Al Gore, whose efforts to educate the public on global warming had garnered a Nobel Peace Prize and who remained active in the fight to mitigate climate change, awareness was slowly growing.
Younger, more progressive voters were especially receptive to calls for action. Still, key Democratic interest groups—especially the big industrial unions—resisted any environmental measures that might threaten jobs for their members; and in polls we conducted at the start of my campaign, the average Democratic voter ranked climate change near the bottom of their list of concerns. A Promised Land PDF Book Free
We couldn’t do things quite the same way now that we were the First Family. Instead of taking the ferry into Oak Bluffs, we now arrived on the Marine One helicopter. The house we now rented was a twenty-eight-acre estate on a tonier part of the island, large enough to accommodate staff and Secret Service and isolated enough to maintain a secure perimeter.
Arrangements were made for us to go to a private beach, empty for a mile in either direction; our bike rides now followed a tightly prescribed loop, which the girls rode exactly once to indulge me before declaring it “kind of lame.” Even on vacation, I started my day with the PDB and a briefing from Denis or John Brennan concerning the assorted mayhem transpiring around the world, and crowds of people.
And TV crews were always waiting for us when we went to a restaurant for dinner. Still, the smell of the ocean and sparkle of sunlight against the late summer leaves, the walks along the beach with Michelle, and the sight of Malia and Sasha toasting marshmallows around a bonfire, their faces set in Zenlike concentration—those things remained. And with each day of extra sleep, laughter, and uninterrupted time with those I loved. A Promised Land PDF Book Free
I could feel my energy returning, my confidence restored. So much so that by the time we returned to Washington, on August 29, 2010, I’d managed to convince myself that we still had a chance to win the midterms and keep Democrats in charge of both the House and the Senate, the polls and conventional wisdom be damned.