Yes, Prime Minister David Cameron is a real Conservative, not like the John Birchers, teahadists, science deniers, and other right-wing extremists masquerading as “conservatives” in America these days. At the White House dinner the other night, Cameron heaped praise on President Obama (see transcript on the “flip”; bolding by me for emphasis). In addition, as Dana Milbank reported the other day, Cameron praised Obama on Iran (“The president’s tough, reasonable approach has united the world.”), debt reduction (“if you look at the U.S. plans for reducing the deficit over coming years, in many ways they are actually steeper than what we’re going to be doing”), and numerous other topics. Now, if we only had some real Conservatives, capital or small “c,” in the United States, as they do in the UK.
Now, turning to Obama-Cameron. As fellow parents, Barack and Michelle have both been personally very kind to Sam and me. And as fellow leaders, we’ve struck up, I believe, a really good partnership. It is frank and honest. We talk through issues very rationally. We don’t need to remind each other of the basic threats that we face; we know them. But there are three things about Barack that really stand out for me: strength, moral authority, and wisdom.
Strength, because Barack has been strong when required to defend his national interests. Under President Obama’s leadership, America got bin Laden. (Applause.) And together with British and coalition forces, America has fundamentally weakened al Qaeda. The President says what he will do and he sticks to it.
I’ll never forget that phone call on Libya, when he told me exactly what role America would play in Libya, and he delivered his side of the bargain to the letter. We delivered our side of the bargain, too. And let us all agree that the world is better off without bin Laden, but the world is better off without Qaddafi, too. (Applause.)
Moral authority, because Barack understands that the means matter every bit as much as the ends. Yes, America must do the right thing, but to provide moral leadership, America must do it in the right way, too. The first President I studied at school was Theodore Roosevelt. He talked of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. That is Barack’s approach. And in following it, he has pressed the reset button on the moral authority of the entire free world.
Wisdom, because Barack has not rushed into picking fights, but is steward of America’s resources of hard and soft power. He’s taken time to make considered decisions, drawing down troops from Iraq and surging in Afghanistan. He’s found a new voice for America with the Arab people. And at home, he’s recognized that in America, as in Britain, the future depends on making the best of every citizen. Both our nations have historically been held back by inequality. But now there’s a determined effort in both our countries — most notably through education reform — to ensure that opportunity is truly available for all.
Half a century ago, the amazing courage of Rosa Parks, the visionary leadership of Martin Luther King, and the inspirational actions of the civil rights movement led politicians to write equality into the law and make real the promise of America for all her citizens. But in the fight for justice and the struggle for freedom, there is no end, because there is so much more to do to ensure that every human being can fulfill their potential.
That is why our generation faces a new civil rights struggle, to seek the prize of the future that is open to every child as never before.
Barack has made this one of the goals of his presidency, the goal he’s pursuing with enormous courage. And it is fitting that a man whose own personal journey defines the promise and potential of this unique nation should be working to fulfill the hopes of his country in this way.
Barack, it is an honor to call you an ally, a partner, and a friend. You don’t get to choose the circumstances you have to deal with as a President or a Prime Minister. And you don’t get to choose the leaders that you have to work with. But all I can say is that it is a pleasure to work with someone with moral strength, with clear reason, and with fundamental decency in this task of renewing our great national alliance for today and for the generations to follow.
And with that, I propose a toast: To the President, to the First Lady, and to the people of the United States of America. Cheers.