FOPO SYNDROME (FEAR OF PRAISING OBAMA)
It’s really sad that nearly four years after the end of America’s most historic presidency, we still seem to be afflicted with the chronic disease of FOPO (Fear of Praising Obama).
Sad, because after the election of the nation’s first non-white president, and his historic two-term run, we still refuse to give the man his due.
What’s up with that?
I think you know, but play along anyway.
I can’t begin to tell you how much it rankles me (and that’s being kind) when I hear white news announcers, politicians, and even historians refuse to acknowledge what many Americans, black and white, know: Former President Barack Hussein Obama (no relation to Osama) was one of the best, if not the best, president to ever grace the White House.
Could it be that our current president compares so unfavorably with Mr. Obama that Whites are afraid to praise the former president? Do they fear raising the ire of someone known to have a fixation on his predecessor? Are they afraid of losing their “white” card?
You know how the old saying goes. If you’re black you have to be twice as good to get half the chance.
Can we just give Obama his due as one of the best?
What more proof do you need when poll after poll consistently rate Mr. Obama, not only as one of the best presidents in American history, but also one of the most admired men in the world. This second distinction is one he has enjoyed every year since his first year in office, and continues to enjoy today.
Throw in the fact his main squeeze, Michelle, is consistently rated as the most admired woman in the world, I’m at a loss why it’s so hard to admit the Brother indeed has it going on.
Though not considered an angry Black man, I still find it hard to control myself when I hear people in the media routinely offer only faint praise for the former Executive in Chief. At the same time they speak so glowingly about certain former white Presidents. Some of these same white men over the ensuing years have proven to be racist.
If I hear another word about the affable Gipper (Reagan) or the fire side chat of Roosevelt or the courage of Kennedy in facing down Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I just might throw up. No disrespect to any of these men (except maybe Reagan), but none of these men had the expectations of an entire race on their shoulders.
But, what really gets me is the failure of even some Blacks to understand how impactful and historic Mr. Obama’s ascendency was.
Why we’re so afraid to acknowledge what our first African-American president was able to accomplish is beyond me. Especially, in light of opposition from, hands down, no doubt about it, it’s a wrap, book it Dano, the most powerful group in the world… conservative white men.
The power of this cabal dominates not only American politics, but most of Europe as well. What Mr. Obama accomplished in his eight years in office in the face of this opposition isn’t only unprecedented, it’s a miracle. A miracle not of celestial making, but of intelligence, strength, faith, and yes, hope.
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
For those still afraid to call a spade a spade, and especially those who have the nerve to say Mr. Obama wasn’t a good president, let me remind you of a few things.
First of all, let’s start with the personal.
For a position many consider the most prestigious in the world, who can downplay the importance of good character in carrying out the duties of the office. Especially when it comes to trying to serve all the people of the nation, and not just those who voted for you.
On character Mr. Obama definitely gets an A plus. Even his critics can’t deny this.
Mr. Obama is well educated, a Harvard Law School graduate. He went on to become the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, the first in its 104-year history.
The man’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a best-selling book author, and an inspirational orator. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, humble, soft-spoken, and eloquent.
His first move after graduating law school wasn’t to get some high-paying, fancy-pants, lawyer job, but to become a community activist, working to help poor people attain better lives and livelihoods.
Mr. Obama is also a great husband and father. No sexual scandals of record. No drinking, carousing, or philandering (not that Michelle was going anyway). No sexist attitudes. In fact, Mr. Obama was a champion of Women’s Rights, including equal pay for equal work for women.
There were no political scandals during his eight years in office. This, despite his opposition publicly declaring opposing him as their main goal, and spending years, and many millions of dollars, trying to prove Mr. Obama was just as corrupt as any white president.
But, all to no avail. When Mr. Obama left office, not a single scandal had besmirched his pristine reputation as a man of honesty, integrity, and principles.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Now, let us get into his historic accomplishments.
When Mr. Obama came into office he faced one of the biggest crises in American history; not only a great recession, but the eminent collapse of capitalism.
Capitalism, as we know, is the White man’s own vaunted economic system, instituted by himself on day one to make sure he stayed in economic control of the country.
Quite frankly, the brother inherited an economy in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
And if you’re too young to remember the Great Depression, just remember it was a time so perilous that even rich White people were shopping at Family Dollar. True story.
Some people admit the U.S. was in such dire straits that only President Lincoln faced a greater challenge upon entering office. Lincoln’s challenge, of course, was saving the Union.
While I won’t dispute this analysis, you’d have to be pretty dumb if you don’t realize what chaos the entire world would have been thrown into if capitalism went down the tubes.
Think about it. Where else except under capitalism can you be charged a dollar for a bag of hot Cheetos that half full of air?
But, just as Western civilization was about to come to an end here comes Mr. Obama to the rescue. A Black man. A Black man with little political experience. A Black man with no foreign policy experience. A Black man with a Muslim sounding name.
Talk about being set up for failure. Mr. Obama surely felt like Charlie Brown getting ready to kick the ball with the Republicans as Lucy. Good grief man!
And the rest is history.
THE NUMBERS GAME
When President Obama came into office the economy was losing jobs at an unprecedented rate: 818,000 in his first month alone, and 4.2 million more over the course of the year. Add to that 3.6 million jobs lost during the previous year (2008). The American economy was poised to tank and continue to lose jobs well into the future.
What actually happened?
After Mr. Obama got into office, his stewardship slowly, but steadily improved the economy. After avoiding a depression, and losing 4.2 million jobs during his first year, the economy showed consistent job gains over the next seven years, totaling a net gain of 11.6 million jobs. The unemployment rate subsequently dropped to below the historical norms throughout his tenure. By the time he left office the jobless rate was down to 4.7 percent… well below the historic norm of 5.6 percent.
Under Obama the inflation-adjusted incomes of Americans households reached the highest level ever recorded. Average weekly earnings for all workers were up 4.2 percent after adjustment for inflation. After-tax corporate profits also set records, as did stock prices. The S&P 500 index rose 166 percent.
REMEMBER THE TITAN
Saving the economy wasn’t the only way the Dark Knight saved our bacon.
How? Let us count the ways.
- Every American president since Harry Truman (1945) had tried to reform the expensive, corrupt, and totally inadequate American health care system. With only juju beans, a uoija board, and both Houses of Congress, Mr. Obama conjured up the Affordable Care Act. This was accomplished in the face of unprecedented opposition from the Republicans and the Health Care lobby. Because of the ACA, the number of people lacking health insurance dropped by 15 million. The percentage of all U.S. residents who lacked health coverage dropped sharply, from 14.7 percent the year before he took office to 9.0 percent in his final year… the lowest on record. We can say what we want about the Affordable Care Act not going far enough, but considering the virulent opposition and their cacophony of lies and smears, criticism of the accomplishment is like saying Custer didn’t fight hard enough at the Alamo.
- Remember the infamous auto crisis? The one where all those rich rappers and ballers were having their Bentleys and Lamborghinis repossessed? No, not that one. The one where the vaunted American Auto Industry was about to go belly up. That one. President Obama kept the vital industry from going bankrupt by issuing a bail-out loan. The bail-out not only saved the auto industry and thousands of middle-class jobs, but kept the economy from tanking. And, much to the chagrin of Republicans, the loan not only was paid back, but with interest.
- President Obama was an outspoken supporter of Women’s Rights, and not just because Mrs. Obama kept a fold-a-way bed at the ready in the living room. President Obama had a tremendous respect for women and their historic struggles. During his term he enacted the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that reduced sex discrimination. He also hired many qualified women, many of them of color, famously making his rival, Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State.
- President Obama was an ardent supporter of clean energy and pushed many policies to decrease greenhouse gases and protect the environment. He pushed auto makers to produce more fuel efficient cars as well as increase gas mileage. Under Obama wind and solar power increased 269 percent. Coal production (dirty power) decreased 38 percent. Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel dropped 11 percent. The increase in solar power was astonishing. The U.S. generated nearly 43 times more electricity from solar power in 2016 than in 2008. The President was also one of the leaders in getting the historic Paris Agreement on climate control passed.
- President Obama and First Lady Michelle showed their care and concern for military veterans and their families by advocating for better treatment and appreciation for those who served their country. He initiated the Veterans Choice Act, legislation that gave former service members more options to seek care and gave the VA secretary more authority to fire underperforming staffers. He signed the legislation into law on August 7, 2014.
- President Obama constantly showed he cared about young people, whether it was about their well-being, their education, or their future as wage earners or parents. Mr. Obama revamped and expanded student loans and increased support for community colleges, making it easier for working-class Americans to get a higher education. He also pushed for tighter tobacco regulations aimed at the 1,000 Americans under the age of 18 who become smokers every day.
- After greed and mismanagement by some large banks, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, and large corporations led to the Great Recession of 2008, President Obama again rode to the rescue. After working with President Bush to push through an economic stimulus package (some called it a bail-out), he pushed through strict measures holding those big financial institutions to account, tightening lax regulations, and imposing policies and standards that made them more accountable to their customers and American citizens.
- President Obama was also a champion of education. He instituted school reform legislation. During his first years he used stimulus money to keep teachers from being laid off and pushed states to reform education in ways that benefitted children for years to come. His “Race to the Top” program changed the narrative around education, and even challenged his own party to come out of their union-protection coma to hold teachers and principals more accountable for providing quality education to our nation’s children. Mr. Obama was especially interested in improving inner-city education for minority and low-income students.
- Everyone knows what President Obama did for the young dreamers. He created DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to protect the children of adults who arrived in the country without documentation from being deported. Disproving his opposition’s charge of being soft on illegal immigration, under Mr. Obama’s presidency the flow of people caught crossing the U.S.- Mexico border illegally slowed markedly. While Obama did implement extremely tough border policies, he continued to push for a grand bargain with the Republicans that would include a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans.
- Though the President’s opposition constantly sought to cast him as weak and inexperienced when it came to foreign policy, this was far from the truth. In addition to working with our allies to strengthen long-standing and critical ties, President Obama restored the trust and admiration for America dampened by years of American invasions, wrong-headed trade policies, and political scandals. One of his first moves was to strengthen our relationship with NATO. He entered into the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership and the Iran Nuclear Arms deal, both of which bolstered international alliances to curb global dangers. His administration’s drone attacks and counterintelligence operations did major damage to the infrastructure of al Qaeda and ISIS. His administration also ended the use of torture and implemented other reforms that brought the nation under more honorable and acceptable rules of engagement. And who can forget the daring raid that killed the world’s number one terrorist, Osama Bin Laden? Bin Laden pulled off the most horrific act of terrorism ever launched against the U.S. An attack that not only knocked over our towering symbol of economic superiority, the Twin Towers, but launched us into a seemingly never-ending war in yet another foreign country.
- Despite all this, some still question just how much the first Black president did for his own people. According to the record he did a lot. Forgetting for a moment how his racist opposition was determined to undermine any and everything he tried to to do to help African Americans, President Obama did speak out consistently against racism and injustice. Often those who were the first to criticize him for not speaking out more, became the last to defend him when he received blowback for his actions. Along with his Attorney General, Eric Holder, the President implemented ground breaking reforms that lessened some of the worse racial disparities in the criminal justice system. In addition, his Justice Department ended mandatory sentences on low-level offenders. Under Obama the murder rate dropped to the lowest level on record in 2014, then rose to finish at the same level as when he took office… dispelling the myth that crime ran rampant during his tenure. The percentage of Americans living with income below the official poverty level went down to 12.7 percent of the population during Obama’s last year in office (2016), a half-point drop compared to his first year in office (2008). According to Princeton University sociologist Paul Starr, the cumulative effects of his domestic programs diminished economic equality in the U.S.
A FEW MORE TIDBITS BEFORE I GO
- Home values rebounded under President Obama, reaching a new high in his last year in office. Sales figures from the National Association of Realtors show the national median price of an existing, single-family home was $235,000 in 2016. This was $38,900 higher than in 2008, an increase of 19.8%.
- According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018, when asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans named Barack Obama than any other president. More than four-in-ten (44%) said Obama was the best or second best president of their lifetimes, compared to about a third who mentioned Bill Clinton (33%) or Ronald Reagan (32%) Note: this poll included White people. Another note: Barack Obama is a Black man.
- During Obama’s presidency favorable perceptions of the United States more than doubled in Germany and confidence in the U.S. president in the United Kingdom rose from 16% for Bush in 2008 to 86% for Obama in 2009.
- During his two campaigns Mr. Obama ran an operation that appealed to the most optimistic and hopeful among us, and showed that “hope and change” was possible even in a nation as racist as the United States. No president before or since has spread such a message. A message designed to unite rather than divide.
- President Obama was one of the few presidents to bring people of opposing views into his cabinet and sphere of influence. He brought together a broad range of people… from African Americans to suburban educated white women to independents to young people to push for the American Dream for all.
The man simply did the damn thang!!