Four More Years
Can you hear the sounds of a nation beginning to wake up? Barack Obama will not be President after the election of 2016. It is only a very quiet murmur now but the drum beat is beginning to grow and resonate more widely. As the Presidential campaigns begin to bring focus to the real and less real issues, Americans are going to begin to understand how lucky we have been for 8 years.
Dream on you may be thinking. Hmmm.
The Affordable Care Act was a jobs killer and would hopelessly increase healthcare costs we were told. To the apparent surprise of the GOP, none of this has come true. Immigration reform was not legislation the House could consider despite the reality that there was 11 million undocumented aliens living in our Country. But when the President prioritized enforcement activities, suddenly there were plenty of ideas (but no action).
Raising taxes on “job creators” was a death wish the GOP said but allowing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy to expire hardly evoked a deep breath. The US economy has grown steadily during President Obama’s watch. More recently, the Iran nuclear deal was a bad deal the GOP told us, yet what constitutes a better deal (and how we might get it) is a mystery. And now Tea Party GOP members are lining up to demand defunding planned parenthood or they will shut down the Government by not approving a budget. Is that a way to run a railroad?
With a Congress which seems to have no conception that their job is to produce laws that help the entire Country thrive, the prospect of continued wrong headed, ideological thinking seems a given. Who will be the one adult in the house who stands up to a Congress more concerned with (1) getting reelected and (2) providing a generous return for their financial supporters.
With respect to foreign policy, the contrast couldn’t be more striking. The GOP prefers to continue the chest beating “we are the strongest country in the world” and “America must lead the world” slogans which were true in the past but no longer can stand up to 21st century facts. President Obama has chosen the difficult path associated with diplomacy and patience over the Dick Cheney like blustering and threatening. While the latter sounds strong and heroic, the inconvenient truth is that the GOP is unwilling to fund its foreign policy dreams and so its protestations are just for show.
To be clear, the GOP would be willing to cut other government spending in order to throw more at Defense but socially this will not work, not to mention the harsh backlash from broad sections of the country that would follow.
President Obama has not be perfect by any means. He openly displays the “I don’t suffer fools well”. And he accepted some unfortunate compromises with the Affordable Care Act. Also, entitlements and most all the Federal Government departments are ripe for efficiency improvements. The tax code is an unmitigated joke. President Obama will leave plenty that he could have tried to fix.
But the President, in time, will be remembered for not having a “dog in the fight”, that is a financial or special interest dog. President Obama insisted upon looking at the world without sunglasses and treating other countries respectfully but with cold reality. No better example is the Iran nuclear deal. Standing pat would have driven Iran to finish developing the “bomb” in secrecy and that would have forced the hand of the West. Iran may still develop the bomb in secret but to do so will be in violation of Iran’s promises to the world. War then would be widely accepted if it must happen.
Geopolitical realities strike us everyday yet too many in our Congress members seem to see no more than what’s happening in Kansas or Arizona. What was true or simply necessary 50 or 70 years ago no longer fit a world which already has too many nuclear weapons or too many people consuming too much fossil fuels. Those countries just emerging into the “good life” (compared to where they were) are not interested in listening to some US Congress member telling them what they should be doing, especially when that advice does not apply to the US.
The past four years could be simply the behavior of a lame duck President. I think not, however. I think President Obama will be remember less as the first black President and much more as the first President in over 50 years to think.