Tag: Barack Obama

February 11 Barack Obama



This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Barack Obama



“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or
some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that
we seek.”


-Barack Obama




When Jesse
ran for President in 1984 and 1988, his campaigns were considered
quixotic. No one really thought Jackson would be President. However, a
generation later, Obama accomplished what many believed impossible; a Black
President. Nor was this an accident of history. Consolidating his 2008 win with
a sizable re-election margin in 2012 made Obama only the fourth Democrat to win
consecutive terms as President since Andrew Jackson.*   


Soon after succeeding George W. Bush in the White House,
Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. While the award was largely a repudiation of
Bush, Obama has ended America’s war in Iraq and the end of the conflict in
Afghanistan is imminent. With ObamaCare, the President has initiated the most
substantial change in health care since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society created
Medicaid and Medicare.


Obama has also broadened the national conversation on
civil rights issues by publicly supporting gay marriage rights and ending
discriminatory policies in the military. Obama is among the several most
important people in this 21st century and already belongs near the
top of the list for all of American history.


Beyond his policies, Obama has become a global symbol for
possibility. The vision of what America is and can be has been irrevocably
changed now that Obama and his family are the visual representatives of this
country. While Obama’s Presidency is not the realization of Martin Luther
King’s Dream, America has certainly come closer to fulfilling it. Clearly, America’s
first Black President holds a special, soon to be permanent place in the annals
of national and world history.



Today I am grateful for Barack Obama. You should be too.





*- Before him were Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt and
Woodrow Wilson. Grover Cleveland won the popular vote three times in a row but
lost the Electoral College race in between his terms in office. 




February 9 Hiram Revels


This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Hiram Revels



“The colored race can be built up and assisted … in acquiring
property, in becoming intelligent, valuable, useful citizens, without one hair
upon the head of any white man being harmed.”

– Hiram Revels



Hiram Revels is relatively unknown even to students of Black
American history. His name is usually evoked only when something unusual
happens: a Black person becoming a United States Senator.


In the 150 years
since the Emancipation Proclamation, fewer than ten Blacks have been Senators
and Hiram Revels was the first. Revels served Mississippi for a little more
than a year and had a relatively uneventful experience after controversy
surrounding his seating in the Senate abated.


The political universe of Reconstruction was vastly different
than our own but Revels established an important precedent. His dignified
service to his state and our country demonstrated that White fears of
incompetent Black leadership were absurd.


After his time in the Senate concluded, Revels continued to
have a valuable career, serving as the first president of Alcorn State, as a
professor and as a minister. We can only hope that our current Black Senators
give as generously to the world as Revels did.


Today I am grateful for Hiram Revels. You should be too.







Obama as a Bridge- Always.


It seems interesting and sad that President Obama has so few ardent supporters left. The reality of his eroding support does not seem congruent with his level of accomplishment in the White House. Things have been tough for him during the first couple years of his Presidency, but he has made some pretty remarkable things happen. I suggested six weeks ago that the principal problem may be that his administration fails to tell its story well. There are not enough efforts to get his message out. I also believe the country has developed a sense of collective amnesia as we have run away from remembering that George W. Bush was our President for 8 years. Even the Republican Party has thoroughly distanced itself from him. Obama suffers from the lack of comparison now, as he benefitted from the constant comparisons in 2007 and 2008.


One thing I’ve begun to recognize about the prospect of creating new kinds of messages about the President is that there is no single message to trumpet. This is Barack Obama does not exist on a fixed point. There’s nothing immutable about him. He moves as he needs to move. Always.


I’m sure a psychologist could have a field day with this interpretation. Just consider the rough outline of Obama’s story. Half White, half Black. Born in the part of America that feels least like the rest of America. Living as an outsider in virtually every moment of his childhood. Being broke while in the Ivy League. And now, being young, inexperienced and Black in the Oval Office. He moves as he needs to move because he has always needed to do so.


That strength may be part of the reason President Obama seems such a natural mediator. In most contexts, that’s a tremendously valuable skill! I believe that he always wants to manage situations so that everyone feels a sense of victory. Just consider who his Secretary of State is!


Unfortunately, all those compromises and efforts at conciliation make it hard for him to lead. And, personally, Obama’s approach makes it hard for me to understand what matters most to the President. I don’t remember the last time he resolved to do (or not do) something because he cared about it enough NOT to compromise about it. Even though I think he’s made some fantastic successes, I imagine there’s not much he has done in office to inspire continuing faith in many people. There’s nothing to be counted on just because it exists at his core. There doesn’t seem to be a core.





Bush’s Book


I’m not that interested in reading what President George W. Bush has to say about the topics he’s interested in discussing. Today is the release date for his book but I have a very different list of things I want to know. Namely, what were his immediate reactions to some of the events that happened while he was in office.


These aren’t the most important things, just important things Bush wouldn’t necessarily have known about it in advance. First responses are always telling. Inquiring minds want to know.


Here’s my list:


The first American has died in Afghanistan

Daniel Pearl is killed

Pat Tillman

Columbia disaster

Saddam Hussein’s capture

Re-election is confirmed (Remember that in the 2004 Election Bush almost lost in a similar fashion to the 2000 Election he won. That year, Ohio could have disrupted the popular vote/Electoral College relationship.)

Colin Powell’s resignation

Fidel Castro’s resignation

Sarah Palin as John McCain’s VP choice

Barack Obama winning Nobel Peace Prize