President Obama told a black church in the nation’s capital today that the promise inherent in his election as the nation’s first African-American president has yet to be fully realized, acknowledging that partisan Washington politics continued to play a big role in governance.
But Mr. Obama promised that his health reform package — now hanging in the balance because of the Massachusetts Senate race — will soon become law. “Under the legislation I plan to sign into law, insurance companies won’t be able to drop you,” he said, to murmurs from the congregation at the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, which was founded by freed slaves.
Recalling the day, almost one year ago, that he took the oath of office, Mr. Obama said “there was a hope shared that life would be better the moment I swore that oath.”
He said that “as we meet today, we know the promise of that moment has not fully been fulfilled.” He attributed the slow progress to the economic downturn and alluded to American frustration with Wall Street greed. But on the eve of the federal holiday for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Obama noted that Dr. King suffered setbacks as well, and the president promised to continue to fight.
Mr. Obama’s address was noteworthy because he has rarely been to church since he was elected. In addition, after the furor over sermons delivered by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, during the campaign, Mr. Obama spoke to a black congregation in honor of Martin Luther King Day.