I have to admit, I’m puzzled.
I was in a discussion (okay, argument) last weekend with someone who leans pretty far to the right. I’m not talking about “white supremacist” right, but he used to listen to Rush Limbaugh, although not in the last few years, he watches a lot of Fox News, although he has been known to also watch local news where he lives in Dallas and he does check out the New York Times and Washington Post fairly regularly. In other words, he’s not brain-dead. Anyway, I made the unpardonable sin of saying that President Obama has clearly been one of the best presidents of my lifetime. He went ballistic, and started to rattle off a bunch of Republican-style talking points, which I calmly listened to before simply telling him that none of them are true.
Seriously, on what plane of existence could anyone rationally say this president has been a disaster? And yet, you hear it from a lot of people. A few weeks ago, someone I know was so incensed that Michelle Obama was going to appear on an episode of NCIS that they said they would never watch again. And these people are huge fans of the show. Every time he appears on an entertainment show, there is a spate of complaints on social media and errant comments from people I know about what a “disgrace” (and yes, I have heard that exact word used) he is to the presidency.
I know a lot of people dismiss this as Obama Derangement Syndrome, but what the hell is that? Look, I don’t care what you think of President Obama on a specific policy level. I mean, he’s not perfect; a few of his policies have made me cringe. But come on, folks; this guy comes as close to perfect as anyone can expect, So, why do some people act as if he’s the devil? And I don’t buy that it’s because he’s black because they did the same thing to Bill Clinton, although Clinton had a lot more flaws than Obama. We’ll get into that more in a moment.
My infamous list of accomplishments is just a list of the tangible things that anyone can point to and say, truthfully, that the United States is better off. To me, there is a lot more than just tangible accomplishments that we can point to that makes him the best president we’ve had in a long time. He’s certainly the first president who seems to have the vision and the charisma of JFK, and if he’d had FDR’s Democratic supermajority in Congress, he might have had a better legislative record than either he or LBJ. (See, that’s how much better Democrats are than Republicans. I can tell you their initials and you know exactly to whom I am referring. Can’t do that with a Republican. But I digress…)
This column is about the less tangible stuff, though. I mean, it’s obvious we’re better off as a country with Obama as president, but he’s done a lot more than limit our involvement in war and bring the economy back to a stable footing.
For example, the man is cool. Forget just having a beer with the guy, I would actually feel perfectly comfortable doing so. Years ago, when Bush was president, I was scheduled to be on a team who was going to work in the West Wing for a few weeks. (And yes, I passed the security check.) Anyway, a few people asked me what I would call Bush, and seemed disappointed when I said, “Mr. President.” But I respect the office, no matter who’s in it. However, whereas it would be an affectation to call Bush that, I feel that Obama himself has earned that respect, not just because he’s the President.
President Obama is just unflappable. Anyone can say anything to him and he doesn’t get upset, he doesn’t take anything personally and he let’s everyone have their say. He is what I have always tried to be as a grown up. I’m closer to that ideal these days than I have ever been, but he is awesome. He takes everything in and just lets it roll off him. I can’t speak for how he is inside the White House during a workday, but there have been no stories about him going off on the people working in the West Wing, so it just seems to be who he is.
He is a moral man. Not only is he a phenomenal family man, with a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters who seem to have no pretense about them, but think about it; we’re almos eight years in and there hasn’t been even a whiff of scandal about this man. I mean, nothing. There are no stories about Michelle Obama blowing off and going to live in the Mayflower Hotel, to chain-smoke from the balcony. There are no stories about women in the White House being disrespected and there is not even a scent of rumors about whistles and catcalls from anyone in the White House. (And full disclosure; I am in a position to hear about a few; there has been nothing.)
He is principled and sticks to those, even when he doesn’t have to. I mean, there is a lot of talk from the professional left and pundits in general about his alleged tendency to “give in” to the Republicans, but there is no actual evidence of such a thing. I mean none. He has gotten the best of the GOP in every negotiation, except one. The sequester was one of those times when the President did make me cringe, but what he offered was so outrageous, no one figured the Republicans would buy it. When they did, it should have meant the end of their reign, but the professional left excels at the circular firing squad; there is no doubt about that.
Overall, though, think about it. Point to Bill Clinton’s interactions with the GOP and, as successful as he was in many ways, he also gave them a hell of a lot of huge victories. Welfare “reform”? The Communications Act of 1996? Gramm-Leach-Bliley? NAFTA? There are many instances when the GOP forced Clinton into doing things he didn’t want to do and shouldn’t have done. Please, name some instances of that with President Obama. He had to extend the Bush tax cuts for a while, but he eventually got most of the tax increases he wanted. Yes, there has been a lot that he hasn’t been able to get done because the Republicans have formed a solid wall of opposition and, contrary to what many say, a president can’t do much of anything without legislative support.
President Obama shows incredible judgment. Repeatedly, he has taken the high road, even when people from our side started screaming at him. He has proven himself trustworthy, even when PUBs and the professional left has chosen not to trust him. Remember when the pro left was screaming at him to “just ignore” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and he told us to trust him? Even as our side screamed at him, he calmly but forcefully took charge and actually got rid of the law. If he had done it the way the professional left wanted him to, the law would still be on the books, ready for the next Republican president to enforce at will. The same with gay marriage. Professional lefties wanted him to confront the Republicans on that issue and “fight” for it, but he didn’t. Instead, he worked quietly and legally behind the scenes and set the stage for the Supreme Court to make it legal nationwide.
This has happened repeatedly during this Administration. People demand that he “fight,” meaning they want him to scream and yell about an issue, and he’s chosen to do the opposite and discuss the issue calmly and guess what? He gets results. Compare his record of results to the screamers and you can see which strategy works better. Repeatedly, he’s set examples by doing the right thing for government employees and contractors, and repeatedly, we have managed to undermine his strategy.
President Barack Obama is a dignified, confident and humble man. He doesn’t constantly lie to us, and we have let him down far more than he has let us down. He cares about the people in this country and he’s confident in his status as a simple man who just happens to have a lot of power. His presence in charge of the ship of state makes us better as a people. I, for one, am proud that he has been in charge of this country for eight years. He has made our country better by his mere presence. He’s never thrown up on a world leader. He has never embarrassed us as a country. He has never been inappropriate with anyone. He has never shown dishonor to his wife, or his family or his country. And for those who think he has, perhaps you might want to take a step back and give him a closer look. I’m proud to call Barack Obama my president.