A Late Night Reflection On Obama… And The New Guy


Well, I watched the last press conference for the current President and given who is replacing him I felt a sense of helplessness mixed with a feeling of impending doom.  But, be that as it may… any hope.. well, I need to evolve to that level first.  We got four years to do that.  But given all the apprehension I did make note of a few things Obama said worth noting.

The first one is the proverbial list of accomplishments any president makes upon his departure from office at his last press conference.  Now, you can argue that any of these accomplishments are indeed accomplishments, and many people no doubt will.  Many people will deny the validity of any of these accomplishments in spite of the facts because we all know there are no such things as facts… for these people.  There will be those people that will also argue that any of these accomplishments were even his to take credit for, preferring to believe events were controlling other events already in motion.

What will be interesting though is that Obama, being the last president prior to Mr. Trump, will likely be the baseline by which we measure the new man.  Many people will think that is a positive thing… Obama having done so much “wrong” that Trump will fix, and any future comparison will prove noteworthy for Mr. Trump.  I am nowhere that optimistic, and as I already stated, I need to develop into hope.

So.. let’s list out in the President’s own words what he said at the press conference regarding his accomplishments.

  • As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent. Today it is at 4.6 percent, the lowest in nearly a decade. We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.
  • When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today we have covered more than 20 million of them. For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured. In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for health care.gov, more than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.
  • We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half, doubled production of renewable energy, enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing main street ever again.
  • None of these actions stifled growth as critics predicted. Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled.
  • Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs, and the economy undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.
  • Add it all up, and last year the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record. In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top.
  • In foreign policy, when I came into office we were in the midst of two wars. Now nearly 180,000 troops are down to 15,000. Bin Laden, rather than being at large, has been taken off the battlefield, along with thousands of other terrorists.
  • Over the past eight years no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed an attack on our homeland that was directed from overseas. Through diplomacy, we have ensured Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon without going to war with Iran.
  • We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba.
  • And we have brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could very well save this planet for our kids.

It’s generally accepted that Mr. Trump is the polar opposite of Obama so I suppose that means much of what’s been accomplished on this list is planned to be torn down, rather than built upon… if Mr. Trump keeps to his word, which we all know is iron-clad because a lot of people trusted him with their vote on what he promised during the campaign.

Speaking of that, here’s what Obama’s record is on delivered campaign promises, according to Poltifact.

From Politico, today.

From Politico, today.

While I am sure there might have been a past president or two that had a better record at the end of their term, it’s still a respectable showing.  A lot of that which he was not able to do could be attributed in part to the agenda being stalled due to world or national events, unexpected political intrigues and debates, or flat out not enough time to do it all.  Yes, he had eight years but who is to speculate that all of what he promised could in all common sense be done in that time frame.  Of course, maybe there’s some in there where he might have said, “Screw it.. pass me a beer.”  There could also be some in there where one could suspect the president wasn’t up to the task; a character flaw (I’d not hold your breath on that one).

Well, here’s my summation… and it wreaks of patriotism.   As I think anyone who has been there will say.. it’s not “fun” being President of the United States.  If you are fighting for the job you pretty much have to be devoted to the task and behave yourself for four to eight years.. and surrender a part of your life to living the role 24/7.  You also have to believe in yourself enough to actually understand the concept, understand the political landscape, and understand the concept of compromise.  From my vantage point, those who have wanted the job enough to fight for it has had an inner drive to try and make things better.. make America even greater (I intentionally didn’t say, make America great again because I always thought it was).

There’s a reason only a couple presidents have served without having had previous elected public service.  To do the job effectively from day one it takes some knowledge of how to do it along with a firm grasp of what you want to do, which is the reason you got elected.  It’s always been part of the American dream that anyone could be president if they made the effort to do so, just as anyone could be a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.  The recent election has proven just that; no experience necessary to become president.  The American people did the job interview and decided on Mr. Trump.  My problem is that being president is not an OJT job… not an on-the-job-training position.  Spending 50 years of one’s life in the business world and the last 40 plus years a billionaire  business owner does not guarantee a new job as America’s president can be learned fast enough to be effective the next four years.  I want MY president to have experience in the field in that which the office of the presidency requires.

Past presidents didn’t want the job on a personal whim, a career dare, or needing a challenge because they had done it all.  There was a deep inner moral conviction to serve and try to make a difference.  It was a desire to help ALL Americans as best as they could.  Mr. Trump carries with him this stigma that he is in control and things are going to go his way.  Things will be done they way HE wants it to be done because that’s the environment he has been boss in for 50 years.  He’s got a very distinct, “Screw you, I’m doing what I want.” attitude.  His damn tweeting is childish and is a constant reminder of his political immaturity and little understanding to hold the office.  His swamp draining rhetoric is all about wanting to re-invent the political wheel in D.C..  There’s no time for all that nonsense.  He can’t take any criticism without lashing out in his own way.

In this last press conference Obama stated something that has likely been echoed with every past president since WW2, whether they made it public or not.

“I always feel responsible. I felt responsible when kids were being shot by snipers. I felt responsible when millions of people had been displaced. I feel responsible for murder and slaughter that’s taken place in South Sudan that’s not being reported on, partly because there’s not as much social media being generated from there.

There are places around the world where horrible things are happening and because of my office, because I’m president of the United States, I feel responsible. I ask myself every single day, is there something I could do that would save lives and make a difference and spare some child who doesn’t deserve to suffer. So that’s a starting point. There’s not a moment during the course of this presidency where I haven’t felt some responsibility.”

I ask you, how many leaders around the world will see an international event happen and admit to feeling responsible that they couldn’t do anything about it?  Only a President of the United States of America can feel themselves responsible to the world, whether it’s practical, possible, or plausible.  When you are holding the most important political office in the most powerful country in the world you can’t help but feel responsible when things happen you can’t control.  When Trump can make this same statement at the end of four years I will acknowledge his training to be the president is completed.  Until then, he’s just an amateur wasting our time.  Hopefully his learning curve won’t cause trouble.

(from CNN)

(from CNN)

I sometimes wonder if his supporters actually voted for HIM or what they hope he will represent.  I’m not a democrat, but I think Obama did a damn good job.  That does not mean he did everything I would have favored him doing and in the way he did it.. but he was a good president.


7 thoughts on “A Late Night Reflection On Obama… And The New Guy

  1. Interesting to hear your non-Democrat take on Obama’s two terms, Doug. I only have an outsider’s perspective, so I am not really qualified to make much comment. One thing’s for sure, Trump is not Obama, or anything like him. But as they keep saying over here, correct or not, he was the official Republican candidate, and will ultimately be governed by their policies, despite the rhetoric. It will remain to be seen if he plays by ‘the rules’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Great article summating his opinions with himself. I am in the middle leaning toward job growth and fearful of big government. Whoever’s platform leads toward keep that in check gets my vote despite his or her label as Democrat or Republican. What I will say, President Obama touched my life personally when he created the Loan Forgiveness Act because I’m a teacher and after repaying 10 years of loans, the remaining balance will be forgiven. I also haven’t seen a raise in eight years while inflation has literally tripled the costs of goods and people working at McDonald’s are creeping closer to my wages despite my having 2 Master degrees and another Bachelors. I hope Trump gets a good sanding on all his rough edges.

  3. I have always been impressed with the dedication of teachers in general, Cindy, and when my three kids were going through the school years I did my best to make it known to them (teachers) because I know it matters. One such fortunate time… I was one of many local business owners brought in by our local district in an aggressive initiative at the time about the relevancy of current education to real world needs of employers. This was a very big effort.. the district rented a meeting hall at a local hotel.. catered lunch… we broke off into groups to discuss the education needs going into the 21st century. That later spun off into the Education-to-Careers effort of which I was one of the chairs. But the effort was so dramatic to a historically conservative school district that the rank-in-file teachers were caught up in the enthusiasm for change most of them had wanted to see for decades.

    It was a couple days after that series of meetings when I received a call from the Principle at the middle school my kids were attending at the time. I was thinking.. uh, oh.. what did my kids do. Turns out she asked if I wouldn’t mind stopping by in the early AM to chat with a couple teachers and provide an update and feedback regarding the district meetings. Of course I accepted. The next morning I met her at the door and we walked down the hall to the library. Upon entering I was greeted by no less than 28 teachers. Whoa. I thought you said a “few”? 

    Anyway, what suddenly became obvious to me that this rank-in-file group.. including their Principle, were literally starving for some information since it was expected the results of this meeting was to greatly impact their own curriculum and possibly their work lives… and they didn’t want to be… well, surprised, by the new district superintendent no one knew anything about. Well, when I went to the lectern I made it a mental point that it seemed I better present my note and feelings in such a way as to provide a measure of encouragement toward the future in the district.

    When I was done with my report and finished answering questions from the group, I closed my notebook, and told them I was about to address them as a parent. I took the opportunity to thank them for simply being teachers, that I thought their efforts were obviously from dedicated hearts and a true caring for children. I thanked them for making a difference the in the education experience for my own three children (most in the group knew them, as my kids were good achievers in general.. something I never was). I told them I had “survived” the Chicago Public School system of the 50’s and 60’s and that the quality of education given to my kids in this suburban community far exceeded that which I received. Bottom line, for a brief moment I had the mass attention of teachers and I didn’t want that opportunity to pass. It was a nice moment for me, and I certainly hope they left feeling a bit less apprehensive about their district goals, and more appreciative that their efforts are indeed noticed by at least one parent, as being a great job.. 

    • ..and you’d think I was never educated at all!!!! All through this post I spelled it “Principle” and not “Principal”! There are apparently limits to how much spell-check can read minds. Oh, wait.. didn’t I say I was a product of the Chicago school system? Well, there ya go.

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