Back in 2008, I was fortunate enough to be working for a national publication on diversity – DiversityInc. That I was hired just around the two political parties’ conventions was even more of a bonus. And, having had a boss who believed in my ability to cover politics, I was in golden territory.
In my very first year at a national publication, I’d be covering (albeit from an office on Broad Street in Newark, N.J.) a presidential race between two United States senators, Barack Hussein (there, I said it, his last name is Hussein) Obama, of Illinois, and John McCain, of Arizona.
This was a dream come true for a political junkie, as I was back then.
From July through early November 2008, I wrote stories – both for the publication’s website and for its parent magazine – on the candidates’ positions on issues involving diversity. I personally learned things about Obama and McCain that I likely never would have otherwise known, as it is rare the mainstream media covers diversity issues.
I came to a conclusion, very early on, that my initial reactions to Obama were right – and that on a personal level, come Election Day ’08, Obama’s name would be the one I checked off on that fancy new machine when I entered the voting booth at the Fords, N.J. Fire House.
That’s precisely what I did – and there was little doubt in my mind the choice I made was the right one.
Obama has accomplished several things as president I was delighted by. He ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” perhaps one of the most overtly bigoted political policies this country has ever seen. He signed a federal anti-discrimination bill into law that made sure all Americans were treated equally, regardless of their religion, origin, sexual preference, etc. He signed a bill into law that ensured that women could not be paid less for precisely the same job a man was paid more for.
All of these things led me to believe Obama was the right man for the White House. And to a certain extent, I still do.
But I cannot help but look at the shape of our nation’s – our world’s – economy. And I can’t help but think the president is simply lost, almost to a point where it appears he’s given up on any chance of being able to do anything significant to improve things.
Is it because he’s not trying?
His jobs bill, according to some surveys, is favored by more than 70 percent of respondents. That has to account for something. It’s not as though the president has turned his back, simply, and said “Sorry, all you unemployed suckers, you’re on your own.”
Instead, the problem is, unlike his predecessor, President George W. Bush, Obama had demonstrated himself to be one of the worst compromisers to ever occupy the White House. Bush, conversely, was one of the best compromisers in generations.
How else would a Republican commander-in-chief have been able to start two wars (one on fabricated intelligence), extend our nation’s debt to epic figures, enact (still, somehow) a Patriot Act that some to this day believe is inhumane and barbaric – all while winning two full terms in office?
How else could a Republican have been able to accomplish just about everything he set out to do, even during the years when his greatest adversaries, the Democrats, controlled both chambers of Congress?
And we were better off for it in many ways.
Obama just can’t and won’t do this.
Here’s a man who, at one point in my life, was perhaps the most respected politician I’d ever known. He was so different from the rest. Maybe it was because he wasn’t a real politician (remember how he was slammed for being a “community organizer?” I always found that refreshing and needed in an all-too-politically-toxic Washington).
Now, more than ever before, he just appears to be lost.
When he says “blue,” the GOP says “black.”
If he says “high,” the GOP says “low.”
As he says “yes,” well, we all know what the GOP will say to that. They are, after all, the “Party of No,” are they not?
So have I given up on Obama?
It might appear that way.
Yet, with the camp of candidates the Republicans have fielded for the 2012 presidential nomination, I can’t help but wonder, I can’t help but think, that Obama has a clear and precise ticket to another four years in the White House, come next November.
It’s only a little more than 11 months from now when the American people will return to the polls to chose our next president.
In 2008, it was said, more than one could recall, that that election would be one of – if not the most important – in our nation’s history. Remarkably, given the stagnant economy, the threat of a double-dip recession, outrageous unemployment figures and more, again, the next election may very well just be the most important in our nation’s history.
My one and only lingering question, however, remains this: Does President Obama realize this?
And even if he doesn’t, will it truly matter in the end? Because let’s be realistic here, is there a single Republican out there in the race now who could seriously beat the president, despite his many shortcomings?
I have my doubts.
What say you?