As we approach the end of President Obama's second year in office, it seems that, despite his numerous major achievements, the President has thus far managed to disappoint just about everybody. To some, it is because he has failed to meet their unrealistic great expectations; to others it is because he has actually exceeded them.
In fairness, Obama was in a no win situation literally from day one. He inherited a huge budget deficit brought on by years of an unending, needless war, and was immediately thrust into averting a potential financial markets crash. None of this was his making of course, but with the short-term memory of most Americans exacerbated by the flame-fanning of the right wing media, he quickly received 100% of the blame. Although the Democrats had "control" of both houses of Congress, the requirement for 60 filibuster-proof votes to get anything passed coupled with the blind lock-step behavior of Republican legislators and the relative inability of Democrats to act in unison negated whatever real control the President might have had.
Underlying all of this was an issue that no President has ever before had to deal with -- the issue of race. Despite the openness and willingness of a majority of Americans to finally look beyond color and elect the first U.S. black president (who, by the way, is half white) there are unfortunately still a significant percentage of closet racists in this country. Those people are completely apoplectic that there is actually an African-American family in the White House, and they have been cloaking their rage in as many political euphemisms as they can muster, decrying that they want to "take back their country".
Meanwhile, President Obama has sauntered on undeterred, seemingly undistracted (to some, aloof) with his sights set firmly on the goal line. Through intra-party fights, the rise of the Tea Party and the birther crazies, the "socialist" label, two foreign wars, the disastrous mid-term elections, the loss of House control, the changing of key White House advisors, the Gulf Oil Spill (and, oh yeah, huge unemployment in a fragile economy), he still managed to attain numerous major legislative achievements in his first two years in office (not to mention the appointment of two female Supreme Court Justices, and the restoration of our standing and perception in the world). And those much-maligned bank and GM bailouts? Most of that has been paid back, and GM is now profitable and has gone public.
To the faithful flock of progressives that swept him into office on their wings as the "Great Black Hope," Obama hasn't achieved enough, he has lost his way, he has compromised his values and principles, and he has left them behind as he has learned to navigate the harsh realities of Washington politics in order to actually get things done. To his opposition, this upstart has out maneuvered them time and again on their own playing field, leaving them weeping and wondering how it happened. The guy is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.
The President his family are shining examples of true family values for our country in almost every aspect of their lives, the opposite of the hypocrisy demonstrated by too many so-called "family values" politicians and leaders. Yet the Obamas are rarely given credit by the right for this and are, quite the opposite, regularly ridiculed by members of the right media (one wonders again whether race plays a factor). Even laudable efforts by the First Lady to combat the growing epidemic of child obesity are met with sarcasm by boneheaded pundits who are merely looking to verbally attack the President and his family at every opportunity, no matter what the cause or its obvious societal merits.
President Obama is far from perfect. He is not Superman, a saint, the second coming or whatever else he was unrealistically propped up to be when he took office. But he is also not the anti-Christ, a socialist or communist, Hitler, a Muslim terrorist, a black activist, a Manchurian Candidate or an elitist. He's just a really smart human being trying to do an impossible job under overwhelming and ever-changing circumstances where he is going to piss somebody off no matter what he does or what decisions he makes. He can't please everyone. So he's just trying to do what he thinks is right for us and our country as best he can based on the cards he is dealt. And frankly, we're lucky to have such an intelligent, levelheaded, thoughtful, compassionate, family-focused, worldview, cool, basketball-loving man in the White House right now.
So here's a New Year's Resolution for 2011: Instead of beating him up at every turn, let's start giving the guy in the White House credit for his real accomplishments and supporting him going forward in what he's trying to do -- for us as Americans. Because while we are busy complaining about President Obama from whatever perch we are viewing things from, like it or not, he has actually been delivering much of the change we elected him to bring about. The achievements during the lame duck session of Congress show what is possible when President Obama is given the opportunity to do what he does best -- bring both sides together to actually get things done (which by definition, of course, involves compromise). By supporting the President rather than continually bashing him, we might start to feel better about ourselves as well as the direction of our country, which in turn could help things to turn around even faster.
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