It will come as no surprise to those that know me that I take a largely dim view of the soon-to-be-finished Presidency of Barack Obama. I honestly wanted to include some positivity as I tried to encapsulate his tenure. I feel like all I have done the past eight years is bitch and moan.
Let’s see…I guess I agreed with some of his trade strategies. And…well, he liked sports. So there’s that. But I cannot sugarcoat it. Politically and socially, the President and I are on polar opposite ends of the spectrum. That’s one thing. But if the President espoused these views while conducting himself as a leader, gentleman and statesman; he would have been palatable. He was not.
I will stipulate that it is a good thing Obama has inspired untold numbers of African-Americans and other minority groups. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the feeling of pride he generated in people. As just another white guy, I won’t pretend to understand the emotional connection this created for some…but I can acknowledge it exists and that it matters. I know emotional connections are strong. But I also know that they can be unreliable and fickle.
Barack H. Obama was presented to us (largely by a fawning press) as a Demigod…a man capable of ending racism, cancer, global warming, and canker sores. “Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers,” began an Obama profile written by Nancy Gibbs in Time in 2008. “But few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope.” Obama did little to disabuse this notion when he said his election was, “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” The hype was enough for Obama to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize less than a year into his Presidency…despite no measurable accomplishment of, well, peace.
Many took the bait and never let go, despite an avalanche of evidence to the contrary. “Wouldn’t it be great if America could elect a black man as President?” people wondered. Could this be the end of racist attitudes? Could Obama truly be a post-racial figure? Will the radical Muslims stop hating us? Will crime go down? We now know the answers.
I could almost forgive people their votes in 2008. Obama was intentionally presented as a blank slate that people could fill with whatever they liked. I and others who are innately distrustful of Cults of Personality quickly discerned his true nature—but the emotional connection that many had made with the candidate was impossible to extract. The die had been cast. I could NOT forgive their 2012 votes—not after we had four years of evidence of the President’s executive lawlessness and mendacity. But those emotional connections are hard to break. Even after Obama thumbed his nose at many traditional African-American voting blocs by “evolving” on gay marriage and other LGBT issues, the bonds remained intact. Black evangelicals largely overcame their crisis of confidence and maintained their loyalty. Again, those emotional bonds were strong.
Whereas some of his predecessors were able to cobble together coalitions to get major pieces of legislation passed, Obama used the skills he learned by being granted everything in life—rather than having earned them. He either signed executive orders, made changes through regulatory agencies, or whined in public to try and make things happen. He is a flawed and petty man who never took responsibility, whined when he didn’t get his way, demagogued opponents, and constantly needed to remind people that he was in charge. These are the qualities of a failed mid-level manager—not the President of the Free World. In that respect, Obama was the epitome of someone who has consistently been regarded more highly than merited based on the color of his skin, rather than the content of his character.
Even his signature achievement, Obamacare, owes more to the tenacity of Nancy Pelosi than it does to Obama’s skill as a political leader. Obama’s contributions to the process were a handful of lies so egregious that they will go down in history for their chutzpah. When the President was making his jaw-dropping claims in 2009 that ACA would lower the average family’s premiums by $2,500 per year, I and many others screamed that there was no way that could happen. NO WAY! We also strongly suspected that when the inevitable rate hikes came, that he would point his finger directly at the insurance companies. Sometimes I hate being right so often.
The President was quite fond of taking every opportunity to denigrate things and ideals that many people hold dear. His “You didn’t build that” comment during his re-election campaign in Roanoke in 2012 was a perfect encapsulation of his views on capitalism, and the fundamental relationship between the individual and the collective.
As far as racial issues go, the President was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a healer. Instead, he chose to be a divider. He started out of the gate early in his administration, accusing Cambridge, Massachusetts police of “acting stupidly” with the arrest of his friend Henry Gates. At least he called a beer summit when the evidence overwhelmingly showed Obama should have waited for all of the facts to come in before he opened his mouth. It was not the last time he would make this mistake. The same conclusion-jumping reared its head in his second term with comments in the Trayvon Martin murder. Again, he wasted no time in reminding white people of how terrible their ancestors had been to blacks. Again, a missed opportunity to be a “post-racial” healer. A missed opportunity to be a leader.
The President also never missed an opportunity to praise Muslims while reminding Christians of how terrible they have been. He even went back a millennium (The Crusades) to pull examples. Indeed, the President’s greatest concern seemed to be over CO2 particles and not a Medieval Death Cult that is racking up some impressive kill numbers. He took time to express his anger with those opposed to accepting Syrian refugees, saying they were “scared of widows and 3-year-old orphans.” That was the classic Obama Strawman. It is how he characterized those opposed to ACA as people who “don’t want folks to have Health Insurance.” In the President’s “me-first” world, it was impossible for someone to disagree with him without also being evil and having dark ulterior motives. This is the same reasoning strategy employed by shallow, insecure teenagers.
On the issue of terrorism, the President skillfully avoided tying the attacks to their obvious Islamic roots. Nidal Hassan’s rampage at Fort Hood became “workplace violence” in the President’s Orwellian lexicon. The motive behind the Orlando nightclub attack remained elusive to the President—despite the shooter’s own admission of ISIS allegiance. Last year, the President called the targeting of Jewish patrons in a Paris Kosher Deli by Islamic terrorists “random.” His milquetoast reactions to other high profile attacks, both here and abroad, made me wonder what the response on 9/11/2001 would have been if Obama had been in office. Actually…no. I don’t want to think about it.
I’ve never been in the camp of thought that has the President as a secret Muslim, masquerading as a Christian in order to subvert the US. I’ve placed that alongside the “birther” accusations. People are free to speculate, and their arguments are not entirely without merit. But I’ve always seen these issues as red herrings, diverting our attention from more pressing questions. But again—this President missed every single opportunity to prove these people wrong.
There is much more to remember—and little of it good. It was obvious to anyone paying attention that he knew very quickly that Benghazi was a targeted terrorist attack, and not a spontaneous reaction to an unseen video. That he would trumpet that line of thinking for nine days after the fact told me all I needed to know about where his concerns lay. I will never forgive him for this assault on my intelligence.
During the IRS scandal, we saw the typical Obama crisis management tactic: deny it happened, promise to vigorously investigate it, blame it on low level rogue employees, and accuse conservatives of “playing politics.” Later, he said there was “not a smidgen of evidence” of any corruption in the agency. Lies this blatant—that in-your-face—could only come from a person convinced of his own infallibility. They could only originate from the mouth of one who knows he will NEVER be taken to task or asked any uncomfortable follow-ups.
There are any number of other issues I could bring up, like the President’s attempted jihad against guns or his worshiping at the International (Reformed) Church of Climate Change. In those two areas, all of the President’s rhetoric, pleading and pouting has produced very little in the way of results. Turns out Separation of Powers is still a thing…and when you treat Congress with utter contempt, they tend to NOT work well with you. Those were opportunities I’m GLAD he missed.
The one thread that connects all of this is that each case presented a unique opportunity for a leader to lead…to inspire…to form consensus. But in each case the President dropped the ball. That’s because he is not a leader. He is a Statist who holds that crucial liberal trait of not only thinking he is smarter than you—but also believing that he and like-minded people should be in charge of as much of your life as possible. It is what happens when you elect a campaigner instead of a leader.
As it turned out, Obama had one undeniable talent…getting Barack Obama elected. The list of his remaining achievements is short and undistinguished.
The ironic thing is that most of what the President holds dear can and will be easily undone. Thanks to his method of governing, very little of the “hope and change” he championed has been codified into law. They can be changed with executive orders and new regulatory rulings. Before Obama settles into his post-Presidential life, most of his illusory achievements will be undone. In a few months, his changes will be empty and meaningless…just like him.
Thus is the fate of narcissistic charlatans.