Mahalo, Mr. President

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President Obama and his family are preparing to ditch the White House and leave the presidency behind next week. To some readers this is a symphony with crashing cymbals. To me it’s a dirge.

Looking back over the last eight years I’m reminded that I didn’t get everything I wanted from this administration, yet I’m proud to celebrate my votes for this accomplished man and his ideas.

The administration was more shrouded and secretive than I would have liked, but that seems to reflect the personality of POTUS. Mr. Obama was close to the vest with much of what he did. He didn’t often reach out beyond the walls of the White House to try and garner support for his projects. He used his oratory to lay out the facts and reasoning, but could not bring himself to schmooze with the members of Congress. They, in turn, kept him at arm’s length as much as possible.

Consequently, he didn’t change a lot of minds or sway a lot of citizens into his corner beyond those of us for whom the oratory of facts and solid reasoning were enough. His favorable ratings are high; pushing 60%, about nine points lower than when he came to office–still a lot higher than current numbers for his replacement. Mr. Trump is up nine points to 46% in a recent poll. This is odd as the raggedy, worn out president generally has lower popularity than the shiny, new hope for the next Oval Office sitter. But, this isn’t politics as usual.

Most of the country thinks President Obama did a good job and I agree. I’m confident that with time and perspective, history will enhance the status of this administration to even greater heights, possibly one of the highest.

Joe Klein of Time magazine recently wrote that Barack Obama’s influence on American culture was “subtle but substantial.” I think that is a fair assessment. He didn’t lead parades when accomplishments were made. He let the acts and the results speak for themselves.

He got the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed nine days into his tenure. That act set the tone for what was to come. It was a needed step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done that didn’t get finished. The act allows time for underpaid employees to sue for their rightfully equal wage, but falls short of bringing equal pay for equal service as an American standard. The moderate-progressive branch of the Democratic Party, to which Mr. Obama belongs, believes in incremental steps toward the ultimate goal. The far right and far left of both parties get more agitated and impatient and try for big sweeping change. That is usually not a Happy Meal the public is capable of consuming at one sitting. Alas, the problem with incremental change, like we have found with the 100 years of step-by-step legislation it took from the Emancipation Proclamation to the voting and civil rights acts of the Sixties, takes time. That particular job isn’t done yet. Changing the law is one step, but changing sensibilities is quite another. We’re still a work in progress.

There is a tremendous body of work that the president has accomplished. The Affordable Care Act is still a hot button, but it’s another great start to fixing a gigantic American inequity. His work not only kept America out of a depression, it spilled over into other countries and helped save the world from the same fate. America’s image abroad is more agreeable. 10 of 15 countries report a more favorable attitude toward America over the last eight years, up as much as 25%. The Consumer Protection Act of 2010 that included the establishment of the Consumer Protection Board has given millions of Americans a forum to challenge huge corporations when they feel cheated. Previously, an individual taking on a big company for wrongful acts was laughable in the boardrooms–now, not so much.

I’ll leave it to you to look further into this if you are so inclined. Due to limited space, I’ve left out any mention of civil rights that have enhanced the lives of minority groups, focusing light on criminal justice reform, and tons of assistance for middle Americans that have been silently put into effect, including decreasing unemployment and rising wages that have been stagnant for far too long.

This is where the subtleness of President Obama does not do his strategic and insightful work justice. He refuses to take the victory lap.

There is just enough room left for me to finish by thanking the president and his fabulous family for their sublime efforts as role models. We can all aspire to any of the six–I’m including Bo and Sunny. If we could live our lives with the integrity, grace, and restraint that we’ve seen emanating from the White House over the last eight years our country would be one huge, Mother-May-I, giant step closer to being exactly the kind of country we like to envision.

Mahalo, Mr. President.

 

Comments

  1. Mr. Obama promised hope and change, and that he would his policies would transform America. For this I agree. He was without a doubt the most progressive and divisive president in American history. I could rehash all of the reasons why this is true, but they have all been well documented. What is sad to me as when I try to have a civil conversation with people of the liberal mind set, they refuse to accept facts. I am thankful to God that people had the courage and mindset to vote with their conscious, tired of the same old Washington mindset from BOTH sides of the aisle. As I have tried to say to progressives and liberals, if you are not happy in 4 years, cast your vote. But I can never forget the arrogant tone Mr. Obama said to one of our nation’s heroes, John McCain, the election is over, elections have consequences. I will remember that ever time i hear a liberal whine and cry and never except facts.

    • Terry Donnelly says:

      “He’s not a war hero. I like people who didn’t get caught. Okay?” How’s that for respecting our nation’s hero?

  2. Great article Terry and very complimentary to President Obama. You spoke nothing but the truth. The articulate words you used will NEVER be used about the new one. As they said put Hillary in jail how about putting the new president in jail for treason, espionage, and suspiciously looking like a traitor. How can you conservatives agree with what he has been doing with Russia? Look in the mirror cause this is what you have done to this great country by voting him in. You ought to be ashamed.

  3. Lee Harper says:

    What’s your whole name.
    New rules

  4. Russell Skillings says:

    Your column nailed it on two points.
    1.) …”he didn’t change a lot of minds or sway a lot of citizens into his corner beyond those of us for whom the oratory of facts and solid reasoning were enough.”
    and;
    2.) “If we could live our lives with the integrity, grace, and restraint that we’ve seen emanating from the White House over the last eight years our country would be one huge, Mother-May-I, giant step closer to being exactly the kind of country we like to envision.”

    There are those who form their opinions based on information gathered from “Fair and Balanced” networks. There are those who form their opinions based on information gathered from “The Most Trusted Name in News”. And there are those who use primary sources. to form opinions.

    President Obama’s eloquence and forthrightness are only surpassed by his and his family’s integrity and grace.

    This was a fitting farewell to our two term president. Thank you.

    • Teri Nehrenz says:

      Russell,
      You nailed why we’re glad he’s gone in one point.
      “If we could live our lives with the integrity, grace, and restraint that we’ve seen emanating from the White House over the last eight years our country would be one huge, MOTHER-MAY-I giant step closer to being exactly the kind of country we like to envision.”
      It’s the Mother-May-I that needs to go. It’s a one sided game. I choose to live in America because I have the freedom not to have to ask MOTHER MAY I. Why should we have to ask MOTHER MAY I to an administration who are there on our dime already. And why should we have to ask MOTHER MAY I from them, did he ask us MOTHER MAY I to us when he made the executive decisions he did, when he put this country into more debt than we’ve ever seen in the history of presidents or how about when he gave all of our hard earned money to the refugees? NO, he did not. I don’t want to live in a big huge MOTHER MAY I country because we would be the only ones asking that question, they don’t ask that same question to us and they absolutely should.

      • Russell Skillings says:

        I’m sure you were speaking tongue in cheek because certainly you realized, like everyone else who read it, that the “mother may I” quote has nothing to do with asking permission. It has more to do with the size of the step. My recollection of the game is that if you were granted a giant step, that step was basically a standing long jump. The Obamas took a giant step beyond most previous first families.

      • Russell Skillings says:

        I think the “mother may I” quote had more to do with the size of the step rather than asking permission. The first family took a giant step beyond many of their predecessors.

    • Teri Nehrenz says:

      I’m not sure where we lost our sense of direction in this country but we must remember one fundamental of government. These men and women are not our leaders, we are not supposed look to them for guidance or leadership. They are paid representatives, OUR EMPLOYEES, paid by our tax dollars and voted (HIRED)into office by us, to do our bidding. They are supposed to look to us for the guidance(the popular vote on issues) and take our wishes back to D.C. When did we lose that fundamental understanding of how government is supposed to work?

      • Terry Donnelly says:

        Teri, You have tipped the scale too far. These people are as you say our employees, paid by our tax dollars. But, they are also our leaders. We have given them the power to make governmental decisions for us. We’ve given them access to information that we cannot see or know. We trust them to deal with foreign countries. They look at our actions (how many houses we buy, how much debt we take out, how some of us invest in the stock market) and make decisions about how our money is handled. Sure, we have the power to vote them out and that happens occasionally. But, politicians and public figures are supposed to be a fine balance between our employees and our leaders. I’m always happy when I choose a person for those positions who also represents my standard values. The Obama family did that for me and I enjoyed every minute of watching them carry out their duties on our behalf.

        • Teri Nehrenz says:

          Terry,
          Always a pleasure to agree to disagree with you. I will say that yes, I have tipped those scales too far but they’ve been tipped too far the other way for years and America finally pointed that out in this past election.
          I’m glad that by your standards and your beliefs that the past administration made you happy and I don’t deny anyone that happiness, I celebrate it. Unfortunately it was a happiness that didn’t extend to others in this country..it’s just our turn now to see if the grass is greener on our side this time. Personally, there have been many dissapointments from both sides for as long as I can remember. I was just 7 months old when Kennedy got shot but it seems to me that THAT was the last time the country was truly happy; when he was America’s President because he really carried out the wishes of his bosses, the American people. These next 4 years are going to be…something!

        • Teri Nehrenz says:

          Terry,
          Had a thought on something you said, “I’m always happy when I choose a person for those positions who also represents my standard values.” That sort of hit a home run when it comes to summing up what the next four years will bring. I’m no psychic but I do predict that over the next 4 years there are going to be a lot of disappointed people on both sides of the fence. Oh there will be the liberals who will say, “I told you so.” and be pseudo happy with that. They’ll only be happy because they can say that, they won’t be happy with what is happening in the presidency/country. Then you’ll have the conservatives who will be disappointed because Trump won’t or won’t be able to fullfill all of his promises (Nobody ever does) and the liberals will be saying, “I told you so.” lol….it’s going to be a mess but that’s not my point.

          My point is: For government to work either way there has to be a foundation built on morals and standards and I’m afraid that that foundation was destroyed long before any of us, living on earth right now, had a say in that particular matter. In any election we are all losers at this point because former generations let it go on…it became a learned way of life… and we became ok with Government establishing the rules and took “thier” (I still haven’t met them or these people we call “They”) word that it was the voice of the majority…we don’t really know. Information comes through such a messed up matrix of “He said, she said” It’s all just one giant game of telephone and we all know how that game usually ends.

          Government will never be my leader or my guide…I have one leader who speaks to me through my heart and my conscience. My fear is that the people who are playing that giant game of telephone with any sort of seriousness are also losing those basic morals and standards as well. Just look at all the “evil” this entire election has brought forth on both sides. Viciousness, hate and ugliness from both sides was unlike anything I’ve ever known or seen in at least 9 elections that I can remember….I was too young to pay attention before that.

          Terry..I respect what you write and enjoy reading your columns and sparring with you on opinions, it’s fun. Seriously though, they can’t be our leaders, we can’t allow them to be. Ever hear the saying, “Too many chiefs and not enough indians?” That’s kind of the same in life. The people you call our leaders have many different agendas, some that agree with ours, some that don’t. If we choose them to be our leaders then we have to follow and support them even when their agendas(morals, standards) don’t agree with our own because “Well, he represents most of my standards” People have one chief, we can’t see him/her, but we are the indians, all of us human creatures politicians included. All men/women created equal. Politicians are representatives of the people, not our leaders.
          Take a moment to refelct on what “They”, those people that you consider leaders, are saying about the one leader who does believe that values and standards in people should be top priority. They say, “Leave him out.” I’m not entirely sure I want to follow anybody who says that, especially when I don’t personally know them and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to get to know them.

          • Terry Donnelly says:

            I guess my life is more compartmentalized than yours. I have a compartment for government and there are leaders there whom I follow, but not to your point of abandoning my positions. That’s a little scary to think about. I criticize my chosen representatives/leaders all the time. I criticized the president in this salute. I have spiritual leaders. I suspect that my compartment here is smaller than yours, but that isn’t any business of mine. I have a compartment for education. I spent my life learning and applying skills from that compartment. I followed leaders and believe I worked my way into being a leader for others along the way. I’m proud of that, and I don’t think I misused the trust given me. Leadership isn’t an antonym for freedom or self-direction; it is complimentary to them. It shows respect for those who have gone before and lets us exercise our passions so others can learn from our failures as well as successes. We’re back to that scale we started talking about in the original segment of this being tipped. I’m not afraid to follow a leader because my balance tells me that I will be critical and aware and not blindly follow. I have leaders, I have self-assurance, I have freedom, and I’m happy about that.

          • Teri Nehrenz says:

            Terry,
            Boy you hit the nail on the head there, your life probably is more compartmentalized than mine but that’s not your fault….lol. Have you ever seen or heard of a man called Mark Gungor? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=814eR5K7KD8. He’ll explain what I mean and in a very entertaining way. I personally can’t follow someone without knowing them personally and what sort of “person” they really are, not just their public persona. I have spiritual leaders but not the kind most people think of. I don’t do organized religion, it’s just another form of politics and essentially another mortal being be it man or woman. Who I follow speaks to me through my heart and my conscience, not my mind. I don’t think that I’ve abandoned any of my positions just because I don’t really put my trust in politicians, my position is that I don’t trust politicians and it’s only confirmed my position each and everytime I experience an election period. Elections haven’t been based on a person’s merit or true position for some time. For as long as I can remember, elections have been full of mud slinging crap. The winner is the one who can sling the most damaging ball of mud and make it stick. Most people end up taking positions against one candidate for that reason and therefore are “stuck” with the lesser of two evils. Not choosing to follow a “political leader” is prudent, most don’t live up to what they’ve campaigned for and I don’t fault them for it, it’s the system. How can you ever have true government when all of it’s chosen representatives,half of each and everyone of them, are at opposing ends of the field? Then you have the campaign supporters who shove big money at them for favors or votes on issues. My mother always told me, “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.” It taught me to read between the lines a lot, and although we are compelled by others not to listen to our inner voices…I listen.I have a large circle of people I enjoy being around for a little while and an extremely small circle of friends. I have to feel a connection with people to feel that they are my friend. I’ve had three for 40+ years and found a few more along the way. Those are the people I can communicate with, without the need for words. It’s a feeling that’s hard to define but something we’re all born with. It’s the feeling you get when you meet someone you feel you’ve known all your life and likewise, those who give me the creeps, I tend to stay far, far away from. Politicians give me the creeps. Don’t get me wrong, I voted but certainly not for a career politician. I’ve always held the position that if a successful businessman ran for president, I’d vote for him, I voted for Ross Perot too. I stick to my position on that regardless of the public persona Trump put forth. Actually it was because of the public persona…he wasn’t fake, he just wasn’t. Too many people are fake, they put forth something they think everyone wants to see, they strive to “Keep up with the Jones” the thing is, the “Jones” don’t live my life.
            When politicians begin wanting to “do away with services” or half A**ed provide them at an enormous cost, squander people’s hard earned money and then keep it from them as they have in our SS system, then even have the nerve to call it a hand out…well, that’s not anyone who’s trying to improve the quality of lives and therfore not someone people should choose to follow. There are politicians on both sides of the proverbial fence that believe that. Taking away jobs and giving people government handouts such as welfare and unemployment even, isn’t something that improves someone’s quality of life. Giving the people the opportunity to earn thier own self-respect even if it’s only in a job that pays the bills is improving someone’s quality of life. Giving them the opportunity to care for those they love by providing medical care at a cost that is affordable (Obamacare is NOT affordable) is improving their quality of life because you’re improving their faith in themselves. You are making them feel better about their lives and their ability to provide, improving their pride and giving them self-worth and confidence. That’s what a businessman knows, that’s what politicians don’t want. Politicians really don’t do anything to help “our” situations, they really do just the opposite and help those who help them like the big businesses and wealthy. The trouble is that most of the American population doesn’t fall into that category. The country is becomming more and more repressed under the leadership of our politicians and we’ve all been a bunch of rats trying to leave a sinking ship. I just prefer not to be one of the “rats following the Pied Piper”, I’d rather swim for the lifeboat. Being the person I am, I follow that voice deep, deep inside the core, they didn’t have the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end when I cast that vote, wondering if I had chosen the lesser of two evils; I know I had.

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