It’s slowly dawning on me that by this time next year, we’ll have a new president. And I’m beginning to realize just how much I’ll miss Barack Hussein Obama. I’m reasonably confident that neither the Ochre Ogre of Manhattan nor the Booger-Glob-Gobbler of Calgary will become our next president, but even if it’s Bernie or Hillary; damn, it’s just gonna be so different, and not in a satisfying way. Putting politics aside for the moment (yes, I can actually do so if I apply myself), part of what I’ve appreciated about this president is who he is as a person… His character. His integrity. His intelligence.
Even after seven years of unprecedented lying about his accomplishments before becoming president, his record in office, smearing his wife, lying about his place of birth, even his dog, he’s kept his cool. No drama Obama. I swear, I think he did so just to further drive them to the brink. They’d say “death panels,” he’d brush invisible dust from his shoulder. They’d say “community organizer,” he’d say, “Yes, thank you.” They’d say “Benghazi,” he’d smile…and he’d resist the temptation to retort “Iraq.” Because that’s not who he is.
This president has been the quintessential family man. From all outward appearances, he and Michelle have a solid marriage and he’s shown himself to be a loving, doting father to his two daughters. Both of whom have grown up before our eyes, reflections of the quality of parenting they’ve been graced with. And there’s not been a scintilla of scandal amongst them, unless of course, you include the lies manufactured by his enemies to drag him down to their level. Not one.
Following eight years of; shall we say, a less than brilliant Commander in Chief in George W. Bush, I’ve come to admire how brilliant this president is. His detractors made light of his relative inexperience when he was elected back in 2008, but they’ve been ominously silent about that ever since. That’s because while they thought he was playing checkers, he’s been playing chess—and beating the snot out of them at every move, flashing his trademarked smile at them whenever they’re stupid enough to invite eye contact.
But most of all, do you know what I’m going to miss? That incredible wit. Never in my lifetime, with the possible exception of JFK’s short-lived administration, has there been such a highly intelligent POTUS. Possibly the most intelligent, charming president since Lincoln. And he knows when to turn on that charm to entertain!
I’ll particularly miss hearing him do his annual shtick at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He absolutely kills at standup! Pity the poor M.C. who has to introduce and then follow Barack Obama—including a hopelessly outgunned Jay Leno three years ago—because very few people alive have the combination of comedic timing and marked ability to deliver a punchline like Barack Obama. And by the way, to date, there’s only been one politician who’s successfully torn Donald Trump a new one in front of his peers; President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner five years ago. The master was in absolute command of the room, and the fool looked every bit the part; an ignorant, birther FOOL.
Try to imagine Hillary or Bernie doing a standup routine (to say nothing of Cruz or Trump). I myself cannot. I’m sure the nation will be in good hands under either of the two Democrats, but it’s going to be so very, very different. I’ll miss the wit. I’ll miss those oratory skills at the State of the Union address. I’ll miss the Obama family pictures. What I won’t miss however, will be the seething hate emanating in great waves from the right side of the aisle.
Most of all, I’ll miss this man’s composure. Throughout the worst economic crisis in almost a century, the worst foreign policy debacle since Vietnam, possibly ever, the nation torn asunder by racists and bigots who’ve tried to blame those divisions on the first black president himself, he’s managed to stay utterly focused on every challenge as they arise.
I often reflect on the different agendas of his, and the previous administration. Two weeks after moving into the White House back in January 2001, Vice President Cheney convened a series of private “energy conferences.” The press wasn’t invited and the minutes of those meetings were carefully guarded secrets. Nor were any groups affiliated with conservation or renewable energy allowed to attend. The oil company execs were of course, as were representatives of Halliburton, the corporation Cheney himself chaired just prior to becoming Veep. A watchdog group was finally able to unearth some maps and documents via a FOIA request, and those documents showed proposed maps of oil fields in Iraq being divvied up by company and by country. That was the Bush administration’s first priority upon gaining power; to begin the process that took us into war just two short years later, all the while ignoring explicit warnings of al Qaeda’s plans to attack.
Contrast that with the first thing on the table when the Obama administration came to town. President Obama called a meeting with his CIA Chief Leon Panetta and assorted counterterrorism experts, asked what they had on the table with regard to Osama bin Laden, and Panetta told him point-blank: We’ve got nothing. Not a goddamn thing. His trail had gone cold years ago. The new president instructed Panetta to make that his Top Priority; double-down all efforts to find and eliminate the killer of 3,000 American and foreign office workers, waiters and waitresses, bankers, computer programmers, husbands, wives and little children. Don’t stop until you’ve got him.
And that’s exactly what they did.
This president has kept us safe. Which is all the more ironic, since that’s been the mantra the GOP has tried to attribute to his predecessor, who clearly didn’t. And the distinct styles of the two men are a contrast to behold. One, invade with overwhelming force, expense not even considered, using “shock & awe,” (never mind the fact that he invaded the wrong country), vs a well-calculated, precision, surgical mission, one that led to the demise of the greatest mass murderer in U.S. history without so much as a single American life sacrificed in the process.
Oil field contracts for industry vs the safety of the People. “Shock & Awe” vs precision. Overwhelming force vs a laser. Knuckle-dragging hubris vs honed calculus. However you define it, one team got the job done, the other didn’t. And the guy who was successful in righting the economy, securing the safety of the nation and restoring our name amongst the nations, continues to be blamed by the side that failed, for the debacles of his predecessor. You can’t make it up!
The Republicans will surely be doing handstands come next January when the Obamas leave Washington, but I’m sure they’ll soon find someone else to transfer their hatred to. It’ll either be piled on the first Jewish president or the first woman president. My hope is that either of them are as capable of withstanding the gauntlet that this president has had to endure. And to do so with such class, competence and humor. He’s been one in a billion. I shall miss him immeasurably, and I suspect you will too. He’s been the best president of my lifetime.