A few thoughts on Barack Obama
Last night, President Barack Obama gave one of the greatest convention speeches in US political history. Like a seasoned preacher, he knew when to bring the crowd up, when to bring it down, and when to drive it into a frenzy. He laid out the case for Hillary Clinton to succeed him, as one-time adversaries became close friends.
While I have no doubt that Mrs. Clinton will be an excellent president and carve out her own storied legacy, we'll never see the like of Barack Obama again. He is a once in a century figure. Last night reminded us of that.
He came into office facing a world on the brink of collapse. Every action he took to save us was unprecedented, often taken in the face of virulent opposition from the GOP and hand-wringing from his own party. He prevented a Great Recession from becoming a second Great Depression, at much political cost to himself. He pushed through the Affordable Care Act, having to compromise it with backstabbers in his own party, knowing that it may have meant that he would be a one-term president. (He was at peace with that.) Time and again he had to console the nation as our epidemic of gun violence ravaged communities in senseless slaughter. He had to navigate through a world in which a revanchist Russia sought to reclaim great power status, and didn't care how many innocents died along the way. He waged war against terrorists, and took responsibility when that war claimed non-combatants. He served justice to Osama bin Laden, a man whom the previous president thought not worthy of concern.
I tweeted last night that, before I die, a memorial will be erected to Pres. Obama on the National Mall. He currently has an approval rating higher than that of Ronald Reagan at the same point in his presidency. And that's a very telling statistic.
I remember when Pres. Obama was castigated for saying that Pres. Reagan was one of the most consequential presidents in the 20th century. Last night we saw what was behind that statement. He has appropriated for Democrats the sunny optimism of the Reagan Revolution. (Yes, I know, that optimism hid a great darkness.) The Democratic Party has become the home of an expansive America, a can-do America, an America which is not afraid of the world or itself. While the Republican Party has descended into hatred and pathology, Pres. Obama has brought the Democrats into the light of what's possible, of what can be achieved. The face which Democrats have presented to the nation this week has been one of love, of care, of concern, of a belief in the good in people. It hasn't appealed to voters' darkest impulses, playing on their fears. Where the GOP offered dread and terror, the Democrats have offered hope and promise. It is a startling contrast.
When the histories are written, Barack Obama will occupy the same pages as FDR and Lincoln. He will enter this nation's mythology not just as the first black President, but as a President who made a broken nation believe in itself again.
I said earlier his like will never be seen again. I hope I'm wrong. We as a free people need to take up his example, follow his call. I'm sure Sec. Clinton will. I hope we all will.
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