Obama’s Legacy: A victim of his own success

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-52-42-amDepending on your opinion of the man, Barack Obama has either been a success as a President, or a failure. History has a way of looking kinder at a President who leaves with a low opinion, an even kinder than that to one who leaves with a relatively positive opinion.

Obama entered office on the heels of a particularly unpopular president. “Change” his slogan, “Yes we can!” his catchphrase, I think anyone who has any sense believes “Yes he did” bring “change.”

Further, anyone who looks objectively at the Obama administration will come to the conclusion that he faced more opposition in Congress than any other modern president. Obama had objectives that didn’t mesh with the Democratic leadership, and Republican elites often wielded [or looked the other way to] the deep-south conservative “anti-black man” vibe, however were quick to dismiss it with the ideology of “Hey look, we have our black people, too! How can we be against the President JUST because he’s black?!”

Do I believe anyone in Congress or any of the elites were against Obama just because he was black? Not really, but they certainly had no problem using racial distrust to bring their point home to the the fringe-right, who wanted to put the “White” back in The White House. Look at the pictures of fringe-right Facebooks, showing pictures like Michelle Obama in ever-day clothes, or something a little less flattering, such as being sweaty, coming off of Air Force One, and next to it, a picture of Melania Trump, perfectly manicured, coiffed and in an expensive dress, with the meme tag line of “Change is Coming.” Now, that said, this is common across all political lines… but again, I think it goes to the mindset of the fringe-right: they want a sense of security back in the White House, not “the black guy who doesn’t wanna give the white guy a fair shake.”

Obama’s use of Executive action is largely unprecedented, because it was often the only way he was able to accomplish his agenda. Republicans have had a tendancy to block anything they remotely disagreed with, to get the President to acquiesce to their own agenda, which Obama largely didn’t do. He wanted consensus, Republicans wanted to flex their muscles of control — with hearings, with delays, with proforma sessions and lack of confirmations.

George W. Bush was brilliant in that he would shame his adversary-of-the-moment into compromise. He would sit down with the leadership and lay out his plan, and even his willingness to comrpromise. If he didn’t get what he wanted, he would stand up from the table, say “Thank you,” and walk right out the door, to a field of reporters, and say “I can’t get prescription drug coverage passed, because Senator Biden doesn’t want your grandmothers to be able to afford to eat AND take her medication!” While this is arguably “dirty politics,” it worked, often! Obama doesn’t play that game. He choses his battles, and rightly so — however, at what cost? Particularly when he is fighting an institution so engrained in itself to oppose him publicly at any turn. Obama would rarely call people out for opposing him, which I think only emboldened his adversaries on the Hill.

Barack Obama became the first black man to be President of the United States — no one can say that’s not a success. However, that success came with a price. He re-defined fundraising in America, re-defined the gaining of political capital, and even successfuly won re-election. However, America was a country still not ready for it, and while an obviously capable Commander-in-Chief, a series of miscalculations on his part, and the part of his aides gave rise to the greatest threats since 9/11, can these be blamed exclusively on him? No. Largely, perhaps — but a lot of these were already years in the making. Korea’s nuclear program has been working since the Bush Administration, and was eventually going to be complete. ISIL was previously a band of different groups, but of a similar ideology. Syria had been a dictatorship for years, and people across the Arab world had been fed up with corruption and greed of elites for years before the Arab Spring hit, it just all came to a head under the Obama administration.

Here’s to you, Barack. A President who’s largely been a victim of his own success — a do-nothing Congress that would rather bicker with itself than support the leader of the free world, a changing world where the rise of everyone else gives people the impression of a failing America in what is becoming the post-America world, and a guy who managed to hold it together in the meantime. I drink a toast to you, sir. I haven’t been your biggest fan for a long time, but that said, just like George W. Bush, Bill Clinton before him, H.W. Bush before him and Reagan before.. I admire the dignity you’ve held in keeping America safe, and helping hold the world together.

Friday at noon, the 45th President comes to power — Donald J. Trump.  Let’s give the incoming President all the support we can.  I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but as a liberal, I intend to give him the respect he’s due, the ear he’s earned and the consideration that was largely absent when the holder of the office was of the other party.  Do with it what you will, sir.  Your actions pave the way of America’s future.

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