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.


Questioning Hour for the President

Two days after the State of the Union address, President Obama went to speak in front of the Republican Caucus at their meeting in Baltimore.  In what I gather is an unusual event, he not only spoke to them but took questions for more than an hour, something I’ve never seen.  Part debate, part “Question Time” from the UK Parliament, this was one of the more helpful things I’ve seen politically.

Obama GOP 2010-01

Here’s the entire one hour, seven minutes of the Q&A from C-SPAN.  Well worth a view for my American readers.  Others may be less interested.

I liked it because, for one of the first times, I’ve seen an environment where the merits of the President’s positions and the truth of the claims of those positions and the opposition’s views relative to them can be discussed and debated openly and in more depth than on a cable talk show.  It went beyond the usual talking heads and punditry to something more articulate and more substantial.

Truly, I like this format and would encourage the President to engage in more of these meetings both with Democrats and Republicans members of congress.

Additionally, I’d like to see political debates held in this style where the rules and questions are not so tightly scripted, allowing the sides to discuss back and forth, to call each other out on false choices and untrue assertions.  It gets us beyond the soundbytes.