I’m not sure most of us can or will ever truly be able to understand or appreciate the meaning and impact of President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.
I mean that not from a sycophant’s dogmatic love point of view, but from a matter of simple history. The country we live in was founded literally on the economic power of slavery — the northern industrial age hadn’t quite taken off — and the colonies needed the south’s agrarian economics to bolster and sustain it. Some people might think that 240 years is a long time, but given our life expectancy, it’s only a few generations ago that people like Barack Obama were property — like furniture — and not eligible to read, much less vote, much less run for and be elected President of the United States of America.
While some on the left have quick to paint conservatives with a broad “racist” brush, the truth cannot be avoided — Obama faced a much harder time than a white Democrat would have. I still think that the Republicans would have blocked most everything he wanted if he were white, but the kinds of white supremacist scumbags that have come out of the woodwork on Twitter and Facebook, emboldened by the president-elect, are all the evidence you need of a racist undertone that is certainly prevalent among some circles of conservative thought.
His signature health insurance law, which Republicans are salivating to destroy, was born in a conservative think tank. A conservative governor put it in place. But for years now, Obama’s been pilloried by the GOP for what is ostensibly a health insurance industry subsidy. And he’s been labeled a socialist for embracing a “free market” Republican approach to an issue.
From a comedic point of view, Obama was actually kind of boring.
Reagan was a former B-movie actor who recast himself as some tough elder statesmen. George Bush the First was a grandfatherly, out of touch sort who was easy to mock for being a simpler, duller Mr. Rogers type. Bill Clinton had a wandering dick and a penchant for slick politics. And Dubya? Well, before the bewigged alleged billionaire came around, Dubya was the greatest gift to comedy of all time. Obama though was just too clean, and too cool, frankly, to get much to stick to him.
You can tell he’s hard to write great comedy about because the bulk of what conservatives consider anti-Obama humor is either racism or a hilariously delusional joke based on some idiotic, dime store version of a president that many of them cling to. Obama was a cool motherfucker, man. He played with lightsabers on the White House lawn. He sang. He danced.
I learned that with Obama, it was easier to make fun of his detractors. Devoting time to finding things to make fun of Obama for was fruitless when compared to the latest “scandal” du jour the Republicans were trying to pin on him. There were Obamaphones that ended up really being Reganphones. There was “Fast & Furious” which was really just a rogue ATF office continuing a Bush Era program. There was the IRS targeting thing that wound-up being a giant nothing.
Time and again we were sold conspiracy theories as actual fact, and that kind of thing is too delicious not to make fun of.
He was far from perfect. His ability to adhere to Bush Era policies was frightening and maddening. His inability to hold a single bank or banker responsible for nearly strangling our economy to death was utterly heart breaking. But those are things we’ll likely be able to forgive, especially as we watch Vladimir Putin’s fuck boy blunder-shit his way through however long he manages to last in the position.
Obama will go down in history as one of the better presidents. When he was sworn in the world thought of us as a bunch of cowboy assholes and a laughing stock. We were bleeding a million jobs a month from our economy. Twenty million fewer people had health insurance. The Bush Tax Cuts were still blowing a massive hole in our budget, and the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse. As he leaves office, it cannot be denied by anyone with even a soupcon of intellectual honesty that all of those things while not permanently fixed have been put into as good a shape as they could have been, with the historical levels of obstruction that he faced.
Maybe I’m nuts, and believe me that is a strong possibility, but I have a feeling Republicans might miss Obama the most. For eight years he’s been their whipping boy. For nearly a decade he has graciously taken their slings and arrows. He’s been called a secret Kenyan-communist-Sharia loving-Muslim usurper and much more. He’s taken it like a champ. The same cannot and will not be said for Obama’s successor. Republicans would have their precious little hearts melt out of their bodies if they had to go up against the next guy.
He can’t stay out of Twitter wars long enough to stage realistic looking fake photo ops.
Over the last eight years one phrase has come to have meaning both among Democrats and Republicans. Initially, Republicans would use it to sarcastically cheer about some transgression or another that Obama committed against Real American Patriots. Liberals smartly figured out early that conservatives were going to blame Obama for everything and anything, and so they appropriated the phrase, and it’s become a mocking of the right more than anything. I’m going to actually take this time and use it sincerely.
Thank you for being frustratingly moderate when I didn’t want you to be, because you still managed to move the ball downfield on some really important issues. Thank for your being frustratingly attached to Bush Era policies, disabusing me of my silly belief that some presidents might actually be inclined to hand back executive power. You helped teach me an important lesson about intellectual objectivity in that regard.
Sincerely, though, thank you for being a champion of civil rights for all Americans. You have steadfastly defended a woman’s right to control her own body, the rights of all Americans to vote fairly and easily, and the right for all Americans to love and marry whom they want to. You weren’t tough enough on Wall Street, but you tried your best to help Main Street where you could. I would have loved for you to be the perfect president for me, but you had to go and try to be a good president for as many Americans as possible.
Oh yeah, and you totally finished Dubya’s job for him when it came to Osama Bin Laden. That sometimes gets lost in the shuffle too.
Thanks Obama, and so long. You served us all with grace and dignity far above levels most could have been expected to display in the face of such tremendous disrespect. I hope that you leave the White House but don’t stray far from public sight. The country will still need you to help us survive however long the madman with a Twitter account and a massive ego holds office.
Your Former Co333,000,000-Employer,
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.