Not only is today a national holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it also happens to be the last week of the presidency of Barack Obama. On this day of remembrance, I need to share my thoughts on our regretfully too-soon-to-be former President.
I have not always agreed with the policies of the Obama Administration. I feel that President Obama has been too accommodating to Republicans, too willing to compromise away progressive, liberal, beliefs. His administration has been too hard on legitimate “whistleblowers,” and vastly increased the “surveillance state” bequeathed by the Bush jr. administration. Not only did his administration not completely pull out of Afghanistan, but he also expanded our middle east involvement through bombing and special forces campaigns in Yemen and Pakistan.
On the flip side; Obama has worked hard to create public policy that benefits American families. While I’m not a big fan of the Affordable Care Act (I think we should have a single-payer “Medicaid for All program), it is far better than what we had before, and irrevocably established the precedent that managing medical care is a proper function of Government. I also feel that Obama appointed capable people to his administrative positions, people who took their responsibilities seriously and performed their jobs to their best abilities.
Despite my criticisms, I deeply admire Obama as a person. I consider one measure of a man is his family. Barack Obama, by every sign, loves his family and cares for his wife and children. There has never been any hint of extra-marital affairs or other improprieties. His daughters have grown up in the public eye with grace and style. First Lady Michelle has spent much time working to improve the nutrition and early education of America’s children and has conducted herself with grace and poise.
But it has been in Barack Obama’s personal conduct that I have grown to admire him the most. I don’t forget how the Republican Party, and Republican hanger-on’s, have treated Obama from the day he established a national presence. Republican’s have excelled in the politics of personal destruction since at least the Nixon presidency, but their treatment of Obama hit new lows.
I don’t forget the statement made by then-Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) towards President Obama of “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president, in 2010.” This at a time when we were facing the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression.
I don’t forget our President heckled and called a liar, during his 2009 State of the Union speech by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC). Although Wilson did apologize afterward, he also used this incident to fund-raise.
I don’t forget then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer publicly sticking her fingers in President Obama’s face, shouting at him, at the Phoenix airport. Then she and the Republican party used the incident to fundraise.
Finally, I don’t forget the years that Republican’s questioned Barack Obama’s real birthplace. Even after our President had released his long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii, which is and was then an American State, Republican’s continued to challenge him and the legitimacy of his presidency.
I could post images of our President that floated around Cyberspace these past years, some of which are so obviously racist, as an American I sometimes felt ashamed. However, I’m not going give these pictures cred by posting any on my site. I will offer a link to Mr. Google, so my readers with a strong enough stomach can browse at their pleasure.
Beyond the personal abuse, our President also had to endure the abuse and racism directed towards his wife and daughters. Whatever one might think of an elected public official, un-elected families are expected to be off-limits.
Through all this abuse, Barack Obama showed unflappable dignity and grace. He never publicly attacked the people mocking him. Obama never gave the appearance of taking actions that retaliated against critics. He continued to “bend over backward” to accommodate people mocking him. For all his efforts to work with Republicans, Obama received no praise and credit from them. Nothing he ever did to adapt their policies was enough, even when he supported the very policies Republicans had supported just a few years earlier under Bush.
Honestly, I do not think I could have shown such grace to people mocking my family and me, the way Barack Obama has. I have to admit; Obama has now become a role model for me in conducting myself in public. But, his is a standard I doubt I’ll ever meet, and I’m OK with that.
So on this national holiday celebrating the life of one extraordinary man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to remember the service of another remarkable man, President Barack Obama.
Thank you, sir, for your service these past eight years.