Yes, those are the words of the president, last night at the Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Washington. After listing his administration's accomplishments and vowing that "our most urgent task is job creation," Obama pledged to keep fighting for a national health care system. "We knew this was hard," Obama said. And then he described a letter he received from a campaign worker who suffered from breast cancer and has since died:
I got a letter -- I got a note today from one of my staff -- they forwarded it to me -- from a woman in St. Louis who had been part of our campaign, very active, who had passed away from breast cancer. She didn't have insurance. She couldn't afford it, so she had put off having the kind of exams that she needed. And she had fought a tough battle for four years. All through the campaign she was fighting it, but finally she succumbed to it. And she insisted she's going to be buried in an Obama t-shirt.
Many observers have noted that the president often seems extraordinarily self-referential. It's all about him, they say. But even those critics might be a little taken aback by the "buried in an Obama t-shirt" remark. Is it really that much about him?
Others ask how some of Obama's statements would have been covered had George W. Bush made them -- for example, if Bush had pronounced "corpsman" as "corpse-man" (as Obama did twice at the National Prayer Breakfast). Had Bush mispronounced the word so badly -- and he did say some weird things -- it's likely many commentators would have rushed to fit it into their Bush-is-stupid narrative. Now, it's Obama who's sounding strange. And even putting aside the "corpsman" gaffe, what does the president's telling of the "buried in an Obama t-shirt" anecdote tell us about him? (By the way, this is not about the woman and her choice -- people do all sorts of things, and we respect the decisions they make -- but about the president's choosing to tell the story himself.)
The statement comes at 8:25 in the video below. You can see that the crowd laughed after the "t-shirt" comment -- perhaps because they thought it was funny or perhaps because it made them a bit uneasy. In any event, Obama was serious.