When Barack Obama came in to office in January of 2009, he did so on the campaign promises of hope and change. Years of the war on terror, topped off with a financial crisis in 2007-08, left much of the country ready for someone to lead the way. A fixed economy. Better race relations. Cheaper health care. Putting America in a better light around the globe.
Neither the hope or the change materialized.
Foreign policy was not good. More on that later. Race relations aren’t in a good place. The gap between rich and poor continued to expand. Not the hope or change promised.
It wasn’t all bad. The economy did bounce back to some degree. Jobless rates fell, but active participants in the workforce also declined. He reduced the deficit, but the federal debt grew.
Affordable Care, Obamacare, whatever your name flavor, will not be the legacy achievement the President hoped it would be. In the end, yes, more American’s are covered by insurance. Those with pre existing conditions can get insurance. Unfortunately for the President and the supporters of the legislation what we knew would happen, with apologies to Nancy Pelosi, happened. Everyone wasn’t covered. Health insurance rates did go up for average people. Uninsured didn’t flock to the exchanges as predicted. You couldn’t necessarily keep your doctor if you liked him. You definitely couldn’t keep your plan if you liked it.
Still, there is just enough there where the President, as he passed the baton to Hillary Clinton, could spin things and make a case that things went well for 8 years and that America feels the same way because President Clinton the Second was elected.
The only problem was a guy with a red power tie, center right appeal (pesky fly-over country people!) and his own war chest of dollars came along and spoiled the party.
Things looked like they’d be okay between President-Elect Trump (still weird to say or type) and President Obama. The meeting heard round the world seemed cordial, Obama looked calm and cool while power tie looked a bit like a deer in the headlights. After the fact both had nice things to say. The transition looked like it would be smooth.
Not so fast.
Somewhere along the way, something got into the President. Suddenly, his stated policies and principles went by the wayside. Over the course of a few weeks, the President was suddenly hawkish on foreign policy, expelling Russian diplomats over email and election tampering, and brazen in leaving Israel out to dry in the UN, which was followed-up with the Secretary of State pointing the finger of blame at the Israeli’s as to why there can’t be a peaceful 2-state solution. Laughable to say the least.
These are things that, until now, have been foreign (pun intended) to the Obama administration. For close to 8 years, they’ve preached diplomacy, friendship and negotiation. There was the post-Bush apology tour where he would ask forgiveness and, now that the evil Bush was gone, we’d be revered around the globe. We didn’t want to get too involved in assisting uprisings during the Arab spring and sat idly by as spring quickly turned to winter. They worked out a deal with the Iranians, let bygones be bygones with Castro’s Cuba and drew a line in the sand in Syria when Assad used chemical weapons against citizens in Damascus. PSYCH! No red line really. Just a fake one. Instead, we did nothing, the Syrian civil war expanded and a global refugee crisis was born.
Now, the President has rallied the troops to try and save Affordable Care. He’s instructed Democrats not to “rescue” Republicans by helping them pass new legislation to replace Obamacare. Basically, don’t help Republicans find a new solution if they repeal mine. He left that same meeting telling reporters only that the Democrats message is to “look out for the American people.” He left out “unless it makes me or my legacy look bad in the process. Then, obstructionism.”
I for one believed the President to be above this type of politics. Hope and change was supposed to be a move away from Washington politics as usual. The sudden reversal on foreign policy, going from 8 years of diplomacy to suddenly tough talk and expelling Russian diplomats, can’t be construed in any other way than being a bitter political move. Yes, the issue of Russian interference needs to be looked into and dealt with, but expelling diplomats weeks before you Presidency ends, while your policy for 8 years has been to be diplomatic with the worst of the worst like the Iranians, is puzzling at the very least. Trying to lay a problem with the Russians at the feet of an incoming President is playing a dangerous game with safety of the entire planet. Putin (the same guy who saved the day in Syria when we left a vacuum) once again played Obama like a fiddle by not acting in kind. Throwing the Israeli’s under the bus in the UN, then following it up with blame speak from the Secretary of State is also a new twist from an administration that wouldn’t say anything as simple as “Islamic terrorists” when it was clearly warranted. Another strange reversal. To top it off, now suggesting to Democrats that they not help the new administration in any way when it comes to anything to do with the healthcare of millions of American’s.
Unbelievable stuff . These thing go beyond the usual parade of pardons and low-level political gamesmanship we see from an outgoing President. These moves are bald-faced political bitterness.
If roles were reversed and this stuf was coming from Donald Trump it wouldn’t surprise me. In the (close to) words of Denny Green, Trump is (probably, well, mostly. Alright: exactly) who we think he is. He certainly doesn’t hide it. I expected and hoped for more from President Obama as he left office. I thought higher of him. I didn’t want him to go out like this. Whether it’s bitterness over who won, or Washington politics finally getting the best of him, it’s a sad way to go out for what started as a chance at hope and change.