Obama seeks common ground

Remarks of President Obama at the Notre Dame Commencement on Sunday. Transcript provided by the White House.

THE PRESIDENT:Well, first of all, congratulations, Class of 2009. (Applause.) Congratulations to all the parents, the cousins — (applause) — the aunts, the uncles — all the people who helped to bring you to the point that you are here today. Thank you so much to Father Jenkins for that extraordinary introduction, even though you said what I want to say much more elegantly. (Laughter.) You are doing an extraordinary job as president of this extraordinary institution. (Applause.) Your continued and courageous — and contagious — commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue is an inspiration to us all. (Applause.)

Good afternoon. To Father Hesburgh, to Notre Dame trustees, to faculty, to family: I am honored to be here today. (Applause.) And I am grateful to all of you for allowing me to be a part of your graduation.

And I also want to thank you for the honorary degree that I received. I know it has not been without controversy. I don't know if you're aware of this, but these honorary degrees are apparently pretty hard to come by. (Laughter.) So far I'm only 1 for 2 as President. (Laughter and applause.) Father Hesburgh is 150 for 150. (Laughter and applause.) I guess that's better. (Laughter.) So, Father Ted, after the ceremony, maybe you can give me some pointers to boost my average.

I also want to congratulate the Class of 2009 for all your accomplishments. And since this is Notre Dame —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:Abortion is murder! Stop killing children!

AUDIENCE:Booo!

THE PRESIDENT:That's all right. And since —

AUDIENCE:We are ND! We are ND!

AUDIENCE:Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT:We're fine, everybody. We're following Brennan's adage that we don't do things easily. (Laughter.) We're not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes. (Applause.)

Now, since this is Notre Dame I think we should talk not only about your accomplishments in the classroom, but also in the competitive arena. (Laughter.) No, don't worry, I'm not going to talk about that. (Laughter.) We all know about this university's proud and storied football team, but I also hear that Notre Dame holds the largest outdoor 5-on-5 basketball tournament in the world — Bookstore Basketball. (Applause.)

Now this excites me. (Laughter.) I want to congratulate the winners of this year's tournament, a team by the name of "Hallelujah Holla Back." (Laughter and applause.) Congratulations. Well done. Though I have to say, I am personally disappointed that the "Barack O'Ballers" did not pull it out this year. (Laughter.) So next year, if you need a 6'2" forward with a decent jumper, you know where I live. (Laughter and applause.)

Every one of you should be proud of what you have achieved at this institution. One hundred and sixty-three classes of Notre Dame graduates have sat where you sit today. Some were here during years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare — periods of relative peace and prosperity that required little by way of sacrifice or struggle.

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