I have been so disappointed over Obama and his Presidency. I still like the man. But I am angry at what has happened and what has NOT happened. I have this sense of abandonment. I feel like someone pulled the wool over my eyes. I keep looking for reasons to NOT write him off.
But then I watched “By the People”, an HBO documentary about the election of Barack Obama. I suddenly realized that if you listen to his early speeches on why he wanted to be President, he has not faltered from that. He spoke of running this country without the fear tactics of the Bush Administration, he spoke about running this country without the distractions that are all too common in all Presidencies, and he spoke about correcting the image of America around the world and correcting the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush Administration that took America one giant step backward in the big game of political hopscotch. I was ready to pick up my stone and my chalk and go home.
“By the People” reminded me that Barack Obama’s launch into the political stratosphere was hard-fought and based on truth. Modern political campaigns are long and exhausting. What may start as a few simple ideas to define any candidate and his platform, end up with a mountain of campaign platform ideas. The more the candidate fields questions from the incessant 24 hour press, the more his platform expands until every single backer of that politician can identify with several of the candidate’s “opinions” . For example, Barack Obama did not promise an end to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” early in his campaign. That came about later when he was pressed for a position. But now, the gay community is overwrought with anger and feelings of betrayal. I’m sure Barack Obama believes in what he said – he wants to eliminate that policy. But is it now or was it ever the bottom row of his political pyramid? I don’t think so. Health care reform, yes, gay rights, no.
So after taking a long, hard look at where Barack Obama is today, just 10 months into his Presidency, I don’t feel so let down. Barack Obama has always wanted his Presidency to be about Us, not about him. He has always wanted the American people, and by default our representation in Congress, to participate in this democracy. It is not just Barack Obama and his own agenda that should lead the country, it should be the country that leads his agenda.
Yesterday, I listened to Barack Obama’s eulogy at the memorial services for the victims at Fort Hood. Not only did this man meet with every family of the people who were killed, and not only did he meet with the individuals who survived but were injured, he was late in giving the eulogy because he refused to cut his visit with these victims and their families short. He knew why he was there. He was there to express grief and condolences on behalf of the people of the entire United States. And when he finally did give his speech, he mentioned each of the victims by name, every single one of them. He didn’t just say their names; he told us all a little bit about each one of them.
As I listened, I realized that this is what an American President is supposed to be. Honorable, honest, caring, empathetic, and strong. He proved to me in those moments that we can turn to him during difficult times and he will lead the way.
In reality, it is too soon to evaluate what Barack Obama’s presidential legacy will be. I was fearful that in my own disappointment, I would jump on the bandwagon and become an Obama detractor. While I don’t agree with everything he has done, or NOT done, I still support this man and trust that he will bring America out of the cold, dark place we are in; and lead us into the light. No President, and no Presidency is perfect. I think that all we can hope for in a President is honesty, intelligence, hard work, and compassion. I’m glad we have that.