Hail To The Chief

This is a confession.

In 48 hours Barack Obama will no longer be our president. Will we ever have another president in our lifetime like him? How lucky–how blessed–I feel to have witnessed a president of his caliber. Where will we find another candidate with his intelligence, sense of humor, energy, good judgment, and thick skin? Where will we find someone with his commitment to fairness, compassion, and justice? More than once I have thought that we did not deserve such a person. Many times I feared he would not make it to the end of his term and would be taken from us like John Kennedy was. He was just too good, more than we could have hoped for.

I also know that while many feel the way I do, he is hated and despised by many others. Our country is divided pretty much down the middle, and the next person to sit in the Oval Office will be about as different from Obama as any two people could be. Perhaps this is just the way the world is. You are not going to get two presidents like Obama in a row. That is asking too much. (But who would have predicted whom we would get?)

The pundits are now weighing in on his presidency and assessing his legacy. Some on the left complain that he could have done much more for poor people and for minorities and for the cause of economic fairness and should have gotten us out of the Middle East wars completely. Some on the right complain that he overstepped with his executive orders on the environment and social policy and that he should have taken much bolder military action in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They still remain vehemently opposed to what he tried to do in reshaping health care, business regulations, the environment and criminal justice. Some in the middle complain of his aloofness and failure to reach out to Republicans. While I concede that much unfinished business remains—and Mr. Trump, sadly, will likely destroy much of his legacy—he played the hand he was dealt about as well as anyone could. The Republican Congress never gave him an inch.

Just as important as what he did and said in office was how he conducted himself. It is about who he was as a human being. He was a loving father and husband, who regularly expressed his devotion and love for his family and always made his family a high priority. He was a president with extraordinary integrity and strong ethics. He never gave up fighting for what he believed was best for the country or became cynical. His administration was scandal free. He was a role model for many. In short, for me he was an inspiration.

History will ultimately be the judge. History will be kind to Barack Obama.

So when times get really tough over the next four or more years, just think about Obama and how great he was as our president–certainly for me the greatest in my lifetime. For this I rejoice. For this I am thankful.

13 thoughts on “Hail To The Chief

  1. Could not agree more! He was a great president, and accomplished so much despite the Republicans’ determination to block him at every turn. I just hope he stays involved politically; we need him.

  2. Amen! There was a great article in the New York Times a couple of days ago about President Obama as a reader and how this has shaped him as a leader: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/books/transcript-president-obama-on-what-books-mean-to-him.html?_r=0. It just underscores what a remarkable man he is. Tomorrow from 3 to 8 people will be gathering in front of the White House, its final day as “the people’s house” (i.e., the house of all the people, not just the class, the demographics, and the political perspectives represented by the Trump administration). And of course to say thanks to Barack and Michelle, the most inspiring first couple since Franklin and Eleanor at least: https://www.facebook.com/events/1632060230442792/

  3. I watched Frontline last night (1/17/17), which was an excellent program that focused on the political tides that severely limited what Obama was able to accomplish (Palin leading to Tea Party leading to Republican success in the mid-term elections), and most recently have led to Trump washing up on the shore. But hindsight is always 20-20; who knew as it was happening?
    What does the future hold? Hopefully the tides will turn due to the unrealizable Trump overpromises; after all, popular attitudes are fickle. An example is the Affordable Care Act, that was vehemently opposed when authorized and barely passed Congress with no Republican support, and now the polls show it is widely supported. And now the Republicans are not being adept in shifting with the tide, and still want to repeal it. We’ll see how it plays out.

    1. Just saw Frontline and it is very instructive. I had forgotten how difficult Obama’s first two years were and how he was so despised by the tea party. I still have trouble figuring out why they (and others) hated him so much. That he took it all in stride is extraordinary. Can you imagine how Trump would have handled all this?

  4. Joe, you mentioned Obama’s thick skin. Can you imagine if 1/10th of the insults and dengrating comments the Obamas had to endure are hurled Trumps way? Trump will have a stroke while hammering away on Twitter. But as bad as Trump will be I don’t want to see him replaced by Mike Pence.

  5. Amen. Thank you Joe. Today will be a very special day of honoring and respecting what Obama has done and has meant for us and for history. An exceptionally exceptional leader, the likes of whom are so seldom seen. We are grateful; that is good.

  6. Wow Joe, way to go! Makes me remember the speech you gave in chapel when you came back from your summer in New York and gave us hell for not caring about the poor and we all stood up and applauded you. Articulate you!

    I also remember when Harvard Chaplain George Arthur Buttrick came down to the Beta house and talked and some said they were conservative and he said, “I hope not the Goldwater kind!” Well, whatever the span between us, Left and Right, now, we have a great chance to stick together as, I guess, Davidson Gentlemen, and help save democracy,now. Frontis Johnson would want us to. And Malcolm Lester.

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