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Matthews: 'Barack Obama is a man of history'

Let me finish tonight with this.Barack Obama is a man of history.

Let me finish tonight with this.

Barack Obama is a man of history. His very life was an event--this meeting of an American woman from Kansas with a student from Kenya. His success, leading up to his selection as editor of the Harvard Law Review, was eventful. Extraordinary, really. As he put it in that great speech in Boston eight years ago, "Only in this country is my story possible."

As I speak tonight, he has been our president for three and a half years, and we are used to something that is extraordinary: an African-American president in the White House. 

And yesterday, he did it again: becoming the president who declared himself for same-sex marriage. Years, decades from now, they will not be talking about the circumstances, merely the extraordinary fact that no one else had ever done it. He did it. He, Barack Obama.

And so we move on, perhaps, to more history.  

One thing I have come to believe, and it is political in nature, that this is what Barack Obama needs to be doing: making history. The moment he becomes just another president, maintaining the way things are, he will lose himself, his historic self. He is, I guess I'm saying, as much a captive of history as a captor. He needs to be making history over and over again, because if he stops, he stops being what he can be, and the American people will know it. 

Just think of this before you think of the politics: if you are black in this country, you know that a black man can be president because one is. If you are gay, you know that America, at its most idealistic, stands for your right to love because an American president has now declared as much.   

We live in a powerful time, and, as long as Barack Obama is at the helm, it will continue.