Click the arrow to watch the address. Video source: The White House YouTube channel.
He got it wrong the first time (it's “Zot!” not “Zoot!”), but President Obama thrilled the University of California Irvine graduating class of 2014 by ending their commencement address with their team's rallying cry.
I moved to the Space Coast with my wife in 2009 from Irvine. UC Irvine wasn't my alma mater; that was UC Riverside 45 miles up the 91 freeway. And the commencement address wasn't at UCI, it was at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. For years, I shot photography at that ballpark on behalf of their minor league teams.
So lots of good memories in this video.
The message of the speech was to be optimistic, to challenge those who deny science. Obama compared today's climate change denialists to the debate the nation had in the 1960s when President John F. Kennedy challenged us to put a man on the Moon by the end of that decade.
It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist. When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it; it was going to be too expensive, it was going to be too hard, it would take too long. But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese.
It was vintage Obama, ending with a call for the students to reject cynicism and embrace hope:
Cynicism has never won a war, or cured a disease, or started a business, or fed a young mind, or sent men into space. Cynicism is a choice. Hope is a better choice.
Don't laugh. The UC Santa Cruz mascot is the Banana Slug.