Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Unable to understand this change

Make no mistake that I will go to my grave not ever knowing or understanding how a leading politician can speak with such promising rhetoric about political transition only to toss every single word he said four years earlier into the crapper.

Former President Barack H. Obama spoke to the nation the day after Donald J. Trump got elected president in 2016. He spoke glowingly of the president-elect’s commitment to a smooth transition from one administration to the next one. Obama spoke of the message he gleaned from Trump’s remarks the previous evening, about how Trump intends to be president for “all Americans.”

Then it all caved in.

Trump lost his bid for re-election and chose to ignore all the things he had said as he prepared to take office four years earlier. At one level, I wasn’t surprised, given that I learned early in Trump’s political career not to believe a single thing that came out of his mouth.

Then again, the eternal optimist that lurks inside me had hoped that he meant what he said in 2016 as he prepared to take office. Silly me. Barack Obama got fooled, too. As did Hillary Clinton.

All that noble talk about smooth transition was plowed asunder when Trump lost the 2020 election. He has attacked our democratic process in word and — as we witnessed on 1/6 — in deed. That begs a serious question: How do serious-minded American patriots square the words of a man who pledged unity and peaceful transition square that with what he did four years later?

I admit freely to being a bit slow on the uptake on some matters. This must be one of them. Therefore, I’ll just consign my pending visit to the hereafter with an acknowledgment that I do not — I cannot — grasp how this individual lives with himself.


Love the tradition

You at this moment are reading the words of a sucker for pageantry, ceremony and even a little bit of pomp. It was with that bias that I was able to watch the return of a longstanding White House ceremony laced with good humor, good tidings and gratitude.

President and Mrs. Biden invited former President and Mrs. Obama back to the White House today to unveil portraits of the Obamas that will hang in the people’s house alongside — as President Obama noted — “George and Martha.”

OK, this isn’t normally the stuff that would fill a blog such as mine. Except for the proverbial elephant that one could almost hear trudging through the White House room where they unveiled the Obamas’ portraits.

That was the memory of the single term of the man who served as president between the terms of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Donald J. Trump could have had a ceremony honoring the Obamas. He chose to throw that tradition aside, alongside other traditions that Trump chose to ignore.

No one mentioned Trump’s name in their remarks to the nation as the pictures were unveiled. There was no need. The Obamas and the Bidens all referred to the “tradition” they were honoring, just as the Obamas did when they unveiled portraits of President and Mrs. Bush, and just as the Bushes did when they welcomed back President and Mrs. Clinton for precisely the same ceremony.

I should point out that in both those instances, presidents of one party honored his predecessor from the opposing party, setting aside partisan differences and disagreements over policy to honor their service to the country.

So, now for The Big Question: Would there be such a ceremony in which Donald and Melania Trump come back to the White House for a portrait unveiling? I almost laughed out loud when I typed those words.

Given all the hatred and the violence that preceded the transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden’s administration … do not hold your breath waiting for the Trumps to return to the White House.


Praying for DACA recipients

I am going to say my prayers tonight. Yes, I think often of my family and pray for their good health and safety and for my friends, many of whom have suffered death in their family.

I also am going to pray for the survival of a humane and to my mind a  totally acceptable public policy. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals needs to stay on the books. Why? Because it grants U.S. residents who were brought here as children protection from being deported … even though they have done nothing wrong as de facto Americans.

The Texas Tribune reports: In 2018, Texas and other Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing that the Obama administration overreached its power by creating an immigration program without Congress’ approval. The lawsuit has led to a yearslong legal battle.

DACA recipients prepare for possible end of program as court ruling looms | The Texas Tribune

DACA came into being as the result of an executive order issued by President Obama. It is meant to protect those who came here as children, some of whom were infants and toddlers. Many thousands of these children have grown into responsible adults; they have paid their taxes; many of them have achieved academic excellence.

What’s more, they did all of this in the only country they ever have known. Those who were brought here as children only did so because they were too young to act independently.

And now some of us want them deported? To a country they don’t know? It is inhumane to the max to punish these DACA recipients in this manner.

Therefore, I will pray that they can be allowed to stay in this country, allowed to seek citizenship or permanent legal resident status and be allowed to continue to contribute to the country where they came of age.


Some traditions matter

Traditions do matter, regardless of how some of those in power might eschew them, cast them aside and act with an air of self-proclaimed unpredictability.

For instance … we have this event that occurs when presidents move into the White House that features the current first couple welcoming the previous first couple to the White House to unveil official portraits.

President and Mrs. Biden are going to welcome back to the White House former President and Mrs. Obama for the unveiling of the Obamas’ portraits.

The Obamas, under tradition, should have been invited back to the house where they lived for eight years by Donald and Melania Trump. That didn’t happen. Donald Trump saw no need to bring back the man whose constitutional credentials he questioned for years, the man he criticized incessantly during his term in office.

So, the Trumps never chose to make nice with the Obamas. Indeed, President and Mrs. Obama oversaw a marvelous White House ceremony to unveil the portraits of President and Mrs. Bush, who preceded the Obamas in the White House.

Now, the current president and first lady will welcome back the 44th president and his wife.

This begs a two-part question: Is there an official portrait being painted of the Trumps and who — in their right mind — would invite them back for an unveiling? This is a wild guess, but it damn sure won’t be Joe and Jill Biden.


Let’s wait on the political obit

Before we start dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on President Biden’s political obituary in the wake of the upcoming midterm election, let’s revisit a couple of recent historical events … hmm?

President Clinton won election in 1992. The midterm election occurred in 1994 and you know what happened. Republicans took control of both congressional chambers for the first time in 40 years. They flipped dozens of House seats. Newt Gingrich became speaker.

What happened in the 1996 presidential election? Clinton won re-election in an Electoral College landslide.

OK, now let’s look quickly at what occurred in 2010. President Obama took office after the 2008 election. He had a Democratic Party majority in Congress. Then the 2010 midterm occurred. Republicans delivered what Obama called a “shellacking.” The GOP took control of Congress.

Oh, but wait! The 2012 election ended with President Obama winning re-election. The margin for Obama wasn’t as impressive as the victory scored by President Clinton.

So here we are today. President Biden and Democrats are facing strong headwinds moving toward this year’s midterm election. Republicans are poised to seize control of both congressional chambers. If they do, they will follow historical precedent.

Is that the end of the line for Joe Biden? Nope, not even …

You see, today’s GOP is now populated by election deniers, followers of the Big Lie fomented by the Liar in Chief. The GOP is fully capable of messing up what the voters appear ready to grant them, which is control of the legislative branch of government.

Given the quality of the rhetoric coming from the cultist who leads the Republican Party and the blind fealty to his blathering that his followers exhibit, I am betting President Biden and the Democrats won’t surrender anything.


WH reporters’ dinner is back

This much came through as I watched President Biden do a brief comic riff from the podium at the newly reinstated White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

It is that he ain’t no Barack Obama, one of his predecessors whose comic timing is good enough for the former POTUS to take on the road.

Still, it was good to see Joe Biden laughing at himself along with the insults hurled at others in the room and around the country.

The coronavirus pandemic nixed the previous two WH reporters’ dinners. Biden’s immediate predecessor in the White House labeled the media the “enemy of the people,” so there would be no way on God’s good Earth he would — or could — appear before those he despised. That means Biden was the first president to appear at this event in six years.

The event that began during the Calvin Coolidge administration has been set aside for Washington to take a light-hearted look at itself and to salute and honor the journalists who report the news to the world. Particularly poignant Saturday night was the tribute to journalists who have died covering the news, reminding us that even the messengers of world events can become victims of those events.

Some, moreover, have been held captive for years. Why? Because they reported the truth.

OK, I started this blog by saying that Joe Biden isn’t as clever with the quip as Barack Obama. I am going to assign him an “A” grade nonetheless for being a thick-skinned good sport during a troubled time. There is nothing wrong with that.


Obama reminds us of positive era

Barack Obama today darkened the door of the White House, stood in front of a microphone and declared that the government can be a force for good and is not the bogeyman that Americans should fear or hate.

The former president came back to where he lived for eight years to hail the Affordable Care Act along with one of his successors, Joseph Biden, who served as vice president alongside President Obama.

The two men reminded us today of how the government can be put to good use for those who pay for it.

It’s good to remember that the man who served between these two individuals tried multiple times to repeal the ACA. He and his Republican colleagues in Congress failed. They filed lawsuits. They also failed.

Donald Trump kept telling us that he had a plan to replace the ACA. We never saw it. Americans never saw a hint of a replacement to a government program that — despite some hiccups at its inception — has become popular with a solid majority of Americans. Who knew?

I must remind you, too, of the moment that then-Vice President Biden turned to President Obama after the ACA cleared Congress and whispered to him: “This is a big f***ing deal.” The utterance was caught on a hot mic. I, for one, laughed it off … but it was a big deal.

It was gratifying today to hear from a former president that government can be — and has been — a force for good. The Affordable Care Act provides a demonstrable example of what President Obama meant.


Special ops forces sworn to secrecy?

Hmm. Let me tell you briefly about a video I just watched: President Obama awarding the Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL Edward Byers for his heroics during the Afghan War.

In the intro to his presentation, Obama recited a creed followed by special operations forces — be they Navy, Army, Marine or Air Force. It declares that the special ops forces seek no recognition for the deeds they perform while defending their country.

I long have admired those individuals who adhere to the ethos that they learn while training to become special combat operators.

Navy Seal Who Rescued Hostages Awarded Medal Of Honor – YouTube

I also was drawn immediately to the nimrod who claims to have been the SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden to death on May 1, 2011, in that daring raid conducted in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I won’t mention the SEAL’s name here, but I do want to reiterate a point I made at the time when he popped off about being the guy who blew bin Laden away.

He violated a sacred code of honor among special operations warriors. He has gone on to a public speaking career, boasting about his exploits as a Navy SEAL and — in his ghastly way — dishonoring the code they all swore to follow for as long as they live. He wrote a book, too, that goes into detail about the raid and what he allegedly did to send bin Laden into the great beyond.

President Obama was absolutely correct to point out the special forces’ ethos and the creed these men all follow. The SEAL braggart, meanwhile, was grotesquely wrong to hold himself up as some sort of singular hero when he was nothing of the sort.


Prepare for shellacking

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Dear Mr. President … it’s been a while since I’ve addressed you in a blog post, but here comes a warning for you.

Prepare for an electoral “shellacking,” to borrow a phrase, in the midterm election later this year. President Obama called a similar event in the 2010 midterm that cost y’all control of Congress; Republicans seized control of the legislative chamber. But I don’t need to remind you of that.

Nor do I need to remind you what happened in 2012, when you and the president got re-elected.

The shellacking you can expect to take this year doesn’t portend political doom for the administration you lead. Yes, I am aware your polling doesn’t reflect lots of good cheer for you.

Bear in mind, though, that the liars on the other side of the great divide continue to keep outshouting the truth-tellers.

The economy is recovering at a brisk pace; I feel it and sense it. We have been hit once again by another variant spawned by the coronavirus pandemic, but my gut tells me we’re going to end 2022 in much better health than we are entering it. We have some challenges around the world with which you must deal, but I will continue to have faith in your own legislative leadership experience that I believe will guide you as you confront them.

Much depends, surely, on whom Republicans nominate for the presidential run in 2024. I am sure you heard what Sen. Lindsey Graham — the guy who once described you as one of the “most decent men God ever created” — said about Donald Trump. He said the next election is “Trump’s to lose.” I am maintaining my faith in Americans’ good sense that we won’t go down that path again.

Then again, I also am going to cling to my skepticism that Trump actually runs again.

So, I wish you well in this new year, Mr. President. I stand with you.

I just want you to prepare early for the remarks you will have to give when they count the votes for the midterm election. A “shellacking” appears to be coming your way. Don’t feel you’re the only POTUS to suffer such an indignity. Others have been dealt serious defeats during their first term in office.

Don’t surrender. There well could be a revival at hand, too.


GOP takeover doesn’t necessarily doom Democrats

As I watch the political landscape take shape heading into the 2022 midterm election, I cannot help but think of what happened in 2010.

What’s that, you ask? Here’s what happened.

President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and got to work repairing the economic free-fall that was occurring while getting Congress to approve the Affordable Care Act.

Congress spent a ton of money to fix the economy and it approved the ACA by a narrow margin. The 2010 midterm election loomed. Republicans were loaded for bear. They delivered what Obama said was a “shellacking” by taking control of the House of Representatives.

President Obama wasn’t disheartened. He ran for re-election in 2012 and with the wind blowing in his face, he defeated Mitt Romney by a comfortable margin.

Obama’s approval rating wasn’t ever all that great. Yet he served two successful terms as POTUS.

Now comes President Biden facing the wrath of voters. The GOP might be poised to deliver another pounding to the president and his party next year. Does that mean the end of the Biden presidency? Does it deliver a mortal wound to his agenda? Does it set the stage for a Republican victory in 2024? No, no and no!

I will hold out hope that the GOP in its current configuration — the party has turned into a cabal of cultists — will turn off enough voters to forestall any more coup attempts such as the one launched by the most recent Republican POTUS.

Let us hope for the best … shall we?