The past week witnessed the return of the 44th POTUS Barack Obama to the campaign trail to canvass support for former VP Joe Biden. As usual Obama was eloquent, infusing empathy with logic and facts in making a case for Biden. Hearing him speak it was clear why people voted for him twice for the POTUS post. The citizens appreciate when they are respected, detect sincerity and feel a candidate seeking office listens to them, has proper plans for governing and explain how their lives will change for the better if elected to office. All of those qualities were in ample evidence when Obama made his case for Biden. Yesterday he also mixed humor while taking a jab at the current POTUS at a drive-in rally in South Florida. His words about the current POTUS “He likes to act tough and talk tough. He thinks scowling and being mean is tough. But when ’60 Minutes’ and Lesley Stahl are too tough for you, you ain’t all that tough.” Ouch, that must have hurt!
As a non-partisan voter let me summarize my impressions of Obama Presidency. Elected in the wake of the Great Recession he was dealt a bad hand to begin with. In addition when speaking to a few folks I sensed disrespect when they derisively referred to his community service prior to his becoming a Senator and then President. When I heard those arguments my thoughts were “Here I am, seeing the whole country runs on volunteering work by citizens, parents in schools, folks donating their time, money and effort in building homes and other ways for improvement of communities and to hear people slighting community service was like insulting all people who were in those efforts”. Birtherism, raised repeatedly and fanned by the current POTUS was a constant refrain heard during those years. Let’s examine how President performed during his eight years as POTUS.
The election of Obama as POTUS. under the circumstances he was first elected, was a triumph of hope over despair, of new possibilities in terms of approach, healing touch and the knowledge that comes with being the first of a kind in blazing new trails. His attending two Ivy schools of repute were proof of a scholarly mind and residing in other parts of the world growing up also brought in awareness, experience and respect for other cultures too. In terms of achievements the economy rebounded, unemployment reduced and the Affordable Care Act was passed to make health insurance available to more citizens. Osama Bin Laden was also finally traced out and eliminated after many unsuccessful attempts by previous administrations. Collaboration with other countries also increased for issues of global importance like climate change. One very noticeable aspect of those times was of Obama consciously refraining from using his race for electoral gains. The Obamas always came across as decent folks and many people could relate to them as they went about their life as normally as possible like other working parents with young children. This feeling was reinforced recently in the documentary “The Way I See It” which featured pictures and videos by the official White House photographer (and currently Madison, WI resident! 👍) Pete Souza.
On the debit side of the ledger the economic recovery during this period was not very fast, wages did not rise much and people with health insurance offered by employers saw quite a bit of rise in their insurance premiums, copay etc. Could have been due to distribution of increased costs of covering people with pre-existing conditions being spread to all people with health insurance. It’s my guess and I am likening it to home insurance cost rising for all people residing in areas hit by floods or hurricane etc even if only a few people actually got affected by those events (I must add that I have heard praise of Obamacare from some folks I know for making it possible and affordable to buy health insurance for their old parents. Likewise even people with the means to buy health insurance and with kids born with a medical condition have praised Obamacare. People with serious or terminal illnesses too have been grateful). Another area where results fell short was in the rise of ISIS as troop levels were drawn down in Iraq. I interpret it as a case of noble intentions not working out well and possibly not reassessed.
After ~ 4 years of constant criticism from the current POTUS and the almost obsessive desire to undo everything that was initiated or established in place it’s understandable why Obama would choose to speak out at this time. The tribulations of hearing his name dragged through mud non-stop must have snapped his resolve to stay away from commenting or responding to constant criticisms and insults.
Final analysis: Obama Presidency had all the potential of being transformational (bi-racial parents, excellent education, empathy, relative youth, new ideas etc) but fell short in that aspect. Not for lack of trying though. Most times Congress just seemed to lack desire to overcome partisanship in working with the President for the greater good. Me thinks the nation was ready to elect but not quite ready to fully accept the President and that is sad 😢🙏