Obama, 'Back Home,' Calls For Better Politics

Feb 10, 2016

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly in the Illinois House chambers at the Illinois State Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016.
Credit Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday. In the building where his political career began, he spoke to lawmakers about reaching across the bitter divide in American politics.

Obama seemed to be at ease speaking from behind the podium in the Illinois House. After all, he was addressing a roomful of people who used to call him by his first name.

"Thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home," Obama said.

In his final year in office, Obama is renewing the call that animated his 2008 campaign — that American politics has grown nastier than most of its citizens want it to be.

"We can't move forward if all we do is tear each other down," he said.

The setting could not be more appropriate — a political stalemate has left Illinois with a budget for 204 days.

The president chose to focus on broader themes, making only a few passing references to that conflict.