Thank you President Obama

As January 20, 2017 approaches and, with it, the inauguration of President Trump, I want to thank President Obama. His was the first campaign for which I contributed money and time. Future generations will write his legacy and, just like any politician, he is imperfect. Nonetheless, I want to thank President Obama for three reasons:


Thank you for conducting yourself unlike any president in my lifetime, with a dignity, intelligence and professionalism that brought honor to the office. There have been no real scandals and your conduct has been unimpeachable – literally “no drama Obama”. You showed love and respect for Americans of all origins and faiths, championed marriage equality and treated women as equals – in short, you behaved humanely and justly. As the leader of our nation, but also as a father and a husband and a man, we could do far worse than the model you set.

Thank you for your political accomplishments. It is easy to forget how dire the world economy was in January 2009. The economy is, by almost any measure, in great shape. Far more Americans have health insurance now than when you took office. In an uncertain world, you kept America safe and out of any new military entanglements. And you accomplished this with a Congressional minority for six years, where Republicans explicitly made it their mission not to govern but to stymie you. Yes, you could have accomplished much more in many key areas, but your accomplishments are significant.

Thank you for risking your life for the country. All presidents are targets for unbalanced people with extremist agendas – thus the constant Secret Service protection. But as the first president of color, you faced a level of hatred unmatched in modern history. Especially in an age where a large percentage of Americans are still convinced you are foreign-born, I am startled that there were no attempts on your life. That was a very real risk you faced and I thank your for doing so. My nieces and young people everywhere are growing up in a nation where having a president of color isn’t an unimaginable future but rather an unquestioned reality.

The third point reminds me that there are some other people whom I must thank:

In a crowded field of first ladies who have been positive role models, First Lady Michelle Obama especially stands out. Her class, style, intelligence and caring has been an inspiration for all of us. The loving partnership between her and the President is a joy to watch.

Vice President Joe Biden is a class-act example of public service. A humble, big-hearted man who has never sought power or personal gain, but rather has always sought to serve and contribute to the betterment of our nation.

And his wife Jill Biden so rarely receives the credit she deserves. While serving as Second Lady of the United States she has continued her primary job as an English professor at a nearby community college, contributing on a local level to the next generation.

There is no knowing how the next four years will turn out, but I invite you to join me in giving thanks to President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden and the Second Lady for their service to the country these past eight years.


Senator Clinton didn’t win. Who will we blame?

After an exhausting primary season – perhaps more exhausting for the general public than the candidates – the race to be the Democratic Presidential candidate has come to a close.

The race has been a hard one and has opened a tremendous number of wounds within the Democratic party, wounds that must be healed if there is any chance for the Democrats to retake the White House this November.  This is the battle that must be won for the good of the country.

One of the biggest concerns I have is how the supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton will react to this conclusion to the primary season.  Some polls have reported that many of her supporters claim that they will stay home on election day or will vote for Senator John McCain instead.  Neither of these would be in their rational best interest, of course, but people have a tremendous capacity to cut off their own noses to spite their face.


I’m sure that as the wounds heal and the general campaign gets under way, most of Senator Clinton’s supporters will rally behind Senator Barack Obama.  In the meantime, though, I suspect the Blame Game will begin.

“Who was at fault?  Who caused Senator Clinton’s loss?” they will ask.  Someone must be blamed.

As Ron Elving, National Public Radio’s “Watching Washington” columnist, writes rather astutely, there are many reasons for the Senator’s loss but the ultimate fault lies with her campaign.  They made a fundamental and strategic miscalculation at the beginning of the campaign: that the nomination was already theirs and that the real fight was for the general election.

You can read Mr. Elving’s full comments here, but I think he is spot-on in recognizing that even though Senator Clinton’s campaign made a strong comeback after Super Tuesday, that initial arrogance cost her the nomination.

As we turn our attention to the question of Vice Presidential candidates, many people are talking about the potential of a “dream ticket” with Senator Clinton taking the Veep role.  Part of me thinks that this is a wonderful idea.  Part of me has three specific concerns:

  • How does Senator Clinton’s presence on the ticket square with Senator Obama’s “change” theme?  She’s reminiscent of Washington politics and partisan bickering we’ve seen before under President Clinton’s two terms in office.
  • Speaking of Bill, how would he fit into the equation?  He seemed eerily prone to making statements that undermined his wife’s campaign and more interested in keeping the spotlight on himself.  I’m not sure there’s room in the White House for all three of them.
  • Finally, Senator Clinton spent a lot of time (even in her Tuesday night speech after the conclusion of the primaries) explaining why she was the better candidate and why Senator Obama wasn’t well-qualified to be President.  How does she take back all of those remarks without seeming untruthful or self-serving?

I’m interested in hearing your ideas and comments.  The most important thing to me is ensuring that Senator Obama beats Senator McCain this November.  America deserves that.


Do You Touch the Third Rail?

At the birthplace of the United States Tuesday afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the issue of race in America as part of the Presidential campaign.  Race has always been one of the “third rails” of American politics: you can use it, hint at it, or ignore it, but don’t touch it!

Obama Philly Senator Obama’s speech was one of the most honest and informative on the topic that I’ve read.  Instead of trying to follow politically expedient routes, he instead talked about the issue in a way that I think all Americans can relate to. 

Regardless of our racial identity, almost all Americans have in their hearts a complex web of conflicting thoughts, feelings and experiences as it relates to race.  Even the most liberal-minded among us are tainted by the fears, innuendo, and racism we’ve been exposed to in our lives.

Even though the nature of the campaign for the White House encourages us to think about race in very reductionist ways, the issue is one that very much exists and very much influences our lives.  And yet, as the Senator points out, it is time to “move beyond some of our old racial wounds.”

“The comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have not yet made perfect.  And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education or the need to find good jobs for every American.”

Regardless of your political persuasion or, for that matter, nationality, I’d encourage you to take fifteen minutes to read the full text of Senator Obama’s speech.  For Americans, it gives some much-needed food for thought.  For people outside of the US, it provides an interesting insight into how the issue of race uniquely affects our country’s culture and politics.

The full text of the Senator’s speech is here.