I am damn proud to have voted for Obama.
And I did it in Texas
Since giving his farewell address 10 days ago, there have been many commentaries about what is Obama’s place in history.
He means a lot to many people
I am not ready to join the “Barack H. Obama Naming Committee” and start naming things a la Reagan. That is dangerous and has crippled the Republican Party for the last 28 years.
Though there are some comparisons between the two. Both are transformational political figures, their influence is felt through the two major political parties, and left office with high approvals.
One key difference though.
Obama is leaving office at a relatively young age for a president. When he leaves the presidency today, he is 55 years old. When Reagan left office in 1989, he was inside a month from his 78th birthday. Reagan expected to have an active post-presidency until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994. His last public appearance was at the Nixon funeral that year and he retreated from public view until his death in June 2004.
I expect Obama – after a much-needed vacation with just him and Michelle (and maybe a small Secret Service detail) – will be very active in the political and public service arena.
I cannot wait to read his first book after the leaving the White House.
He will certainly draw crowds when he goes on the post-presidential speaking circuit and as expected his approvals will climb over time.
The question is where will Obama rank?
I am not going to put him at the top. Again, I refuse to be a part of the “Barack H. Obama Naming Committee.”
Definitely top quarter of presidents and if there was a Mount Rushmore II, he certainly would be a part of it.
Like Lincoln and FDR, he became president during a time of national crisis. For Lincoln, it was on the eve of the Civil War. FDR was elected during the height of the Great Depression and Europe slowly descending into fascism.
Like LBJ, he went for health care reform. An issue that evaded several presidents of both major political parties. Republicans said it would be a job killer…
On that note…
The unemployment rate dropped under Obama and the stock market is approaching 20,000. In 2012, Mitt Romney said he would get unemployment under 6.0% before the end of his first term.
Obama got it under 4.7% and had 75 months of positive job growth.
Saving the auto industry as well as the stimulus were wise moves that staved off a depression and instead resulted in a deep economic recession
Student loan reform
Financial reforms that gave rise to a Harvard professor named Elizabeth Warren
Without a doubt, the most LGBT friendly president… well… ever and that is backed up with signing expanded hate crimes legislation, repealing the military’s ban on LGBT persons openly serving, and endorsing marriage equality.
He appointed two new Supreme Court justices and could have gotten a third one IF… well… we know how the 2016 election turned out.
Perhaps the signs of new relations with Iran
An embassy in Cuba for the first time in decades
A relatively scandal free White House: Zero Obama official indicted or convicted
The federal judiciary was reshaped under Obama that tilts a little more Democratic and is a little more diverse.
He was the first Democrat to win two terms with greater than 50% of the popular vote since FDR.
And he ordered the Navy SEAL raid that got bin Laden
Those are just some of the things that Obama will be known for when his library opens in a few years.
But I’m sure a lot of people feel this was an incomplete presidency.
Like JFK, LBJ, both Roosevelts, Carter, Clinton, and many other presidents, he proposed big things but sadly – and I hope this is not overlooked by future historians or even current ones – he faced unprecedented obstruction.
Kennedy proposed going to the moon by the end of the 1960s but did not live to see Neil Armstrong set foot on its surface. Johnson had to fight with members of his own party to pass Civil and Voting Rights Acts as well as the costly action of Vietnam threatened to undo his Great Society proposals. Both Roosevelts had to fight with their own party in order to get their legislative agenda passed and had to resort to the media available at the time to cajole public opinion; Teddy resorted to the newspapers while Franklin used the radio to communicate directly to the people. The coalition that propelled Carter to the White House in 1976 was on its last legs as well as the Iran Hostage Crisis hindered his presidency. Clinton had several missteps at the beginning of his first terms and was constantly doing battle with Congressional Republicans whose main objective was to try to remove him from office.
Most of Obama’s successes were due to having a cooperative Congress. For a majority of his presidency, Republicans controlled at least one portion of the legislative branch. When Obama was sworn in eight years ago, a group of Republicans schemed to block Obama on everything even on the things that Republicans once supported. ObamaCare was an idea created as an alternative to ClintonCare in the 1990s that was advocated by then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Republicans said no to stimulus spending but were later seen lining up for photo ops promoting the dollars that would be going to their districts and states.
National security became politicized as it was the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans as well as Ambassador Chris Stevens was suddenly the worst attack on an embassy ever and the biggest lapse in national security ever.
Except there were several Benghazi’s under George W. Bush
And let’s not forget the bombing in Beirut that happened under Reagan
And the biggest lapse in national security? I guess Republicans forgot about 9/11 despite telling people they will never forget.
And who warned about not adequately funding security to our embassies…?
History will not be kind to those that ridiculed and challenged Obama’s legitimacy to the presidency nor those that supported those that did so. I also am not expecting kind things towards Obama’s successor, Donald Trump who was one of those voices.
My niece will learn about the Obama presidency one day.
I will tell her about the things he accomplished, and we were damn lucky to have his calm, steady leadership for eight years.
That is how a president is to behave and act.
Yes, by a severe flaw in the presidential election process, we (and by we, I mean the collective “we.” I certainly did not) did elect Donald Trump as the 45th president.
But that cannot take away this achievement.