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Obama: 'Irony of the presidential office' is the humility it teaches

President Obama told congressional leaders at his inaugural luncheon Monday that the "irony" of being president was the humility that came with attempting to implement an agenda.

"I know that former President Carter, President Clinton, they understand the irony of the presidential office, which is the longer you're there, the more humble you become, and the more mindful you are that is beyond your powers individually to move this great country," Obama said.

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The president acknowledged the "profound differences" within the room, which contained the Supreme Court, Cabinet officials and leadership from the House and Senate. But he thanked those assembled for the work they did.

"I realize that democracy is not always easy. And I recognize there are profound differences in this room," Obama said. "But I just want to say thank you for your service, and I want to thank your families for their service, because regardless of our political persuasions and perspectives, I know that all of us serve because we believe that we can make America for future generations."

And the president said he was "confident" that despite those differences, the leaders could seize on the moment to make "a difference for our children, and our children's children."

"You can only do it because you have extraordinary partners, and a spirit of goodwill, and most of all because of the strength, and resilience, and fundamental goodness of the American people," Obama said.

In his brief remarks, the president also issued thanks to members of the inaugural committee and his Cabinet.

"Some of you are staying, and some of you are leaving, but I know of the extraordinary sacrifices that you and my team have made to try to advance the cause of progress in this country and I'm always going to be grateful to you for that," Obama said.

The president also praised Vice President Biden as "an extraordinary partner but an extraordinary friend" and offered a toast to his wife, first lady Michelle Obama.

"There is controversy about the quality of the president, no controversy about the quality of our current first lady," Obama quipped.