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The Student News Site of Dillard University

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The Student News Site of Dillard University

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Word on the Ave 2/16/24
Word on the Ave 2/16/24
February 18, 2024

Unlikely Obama supporter says president will triumph

Reprinted with author’s permission

Before he’d served even one year, President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white-hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of  life and ideological backgrounds – including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right-wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter – are sticking with our president. Why? – Because he is succeeding. 

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us. 

Obama’s steady supporters will be proved right. Obama’s critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst. 

The context of the Obama presidency
Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced  more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more  bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration  has any president faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition – from both  the right and left.

As the president’s poll numbers have fallen, so has his support from some on the left who were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty Web sites and commentators who were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election. 

The left’s lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling  “prophecy”: Snipe at the president and then watch the poll numbers fall,  and then pretend you didn’t have  anything to do with it! 

Here is what Obama faced when he took office – none of which was his fault:

·        An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries.

·        Two wars; one that was  mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and  immoral.

·        The worst economic crisis since the depression

·        America’s standing in the world at the lowest point in history.

·        A  country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of  prisoners of war.

·        A health-care system in free fall. 

·        An  educational system in free fall.

·        A global environmental crisis of  history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the  Republicans had done nothing).

·        An impasse between culture warriors  from the right and left

·        A huge financial deficit inherited from  the terminally irresponsible Bush administration.

And those were  only some of the problems sitting  on the president’s desk!

“Help” from the Right?
What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists – that is what  the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office – do to  “help” our new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed he  wasn’t a real American, didn’t have an American birth certificate, wasn’t born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating “racist”, was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ(!) and was a reincarnation of  Hitler and wanted “death panels” to kill the elderly. 

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-subtle use  of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized “tea parties” to sound off against imagined insults and all government in general and gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry lobbyists and deranged (but well-financed) “commentators” from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh. 

The  utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who was trying to  actually do something about the poor, the environment, to diminish the  number of abortions through compassionate programs to help women and to  care for the sick. And in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one  word: “No!”

In other words, the reactionary white, rube, uneducated,  crazy American far right combined with the educated-but-obtuse  neoconservative warmongers, religious-right shills for big business,  libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold-bug, gun-loving crazies, child-molesting-acquiescent “bishops”, frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from  succeeding at all costs. 

“Help from the Left?
What did the  left do to help their newly elected president? Some of them excoriated the  president because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced  to make regarding a war in Afghanistan he’d inherited from the worst president in modern history. 

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that  the president’s economic policies had “failed” before the president even instituted  them. Others said since all gay-rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minutes of the president taking office, they’d been  “betrayed.” (Never mind that Obama’s vocal support to the gay community is stronger than any other president’s has been. Never mind that he signed a  new hate crimes law.) 

Those who had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how “disappointed” they were that they’d not all immediately been  translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House. Where was the “change”? Contrary to their expectations, they were still mere mortals! 

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy  texting to pay attention for longer than a nanosecond. “Governing”?! What the hell does that word, uh, like mean?” 

The president’s critics left and right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with  little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality) thrown in for good  measure. Then, of course, there were the white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just couldn’t imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren’t as smart as they  thought they were and certainly not as smart as their president. He hadn’t consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong. 

The Obama critics’  ideological ideas defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas, say, about what is possible in one year in office after the hand the president had been dealt by fate, or to be exact, by the American idiot nation that voted Bush into office – twice. 

Meanwhile, back in the reality-based community, in just 12 short months, President Obama:

·        Continued to  draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq .

·        Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of  several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan.

·        Gave a major precedent-setting speech  supporting gay rights.

·        Restored America’s image around the globe.

·        Banned torture of American  prisoners.

·        Stopped the free fall of the American economy.

·        Put the USA squarely back in the  bilateral international community.

·        Put the USA squarely into the middle of the  international effort to halt global warming.

·        Stood up for educational reform.

·        Won a Nobel peace prize.

·        Moved the  trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and  balances.

·        Did  what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that seven presidents had failed to even begin.

·        Responded  to hatred from the right and left with measured good humor and  patience.

·        Stopped  the free fall of job losses.

·        Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous far-right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people who show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the “blood of tyrants”  needing to “water the tree of liberty.”

·        Showed he could not only make the tough military choices but explain and defend them brilliantly.

None of these was good enough for his critics.

Other than those  “disappointing” accomplishments – in one year – President Obama  “failed”! Other than that he didn’t “live up to expectations”!  

Who actually has failed are the Americans who can’t see the beginning of a miracle of national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the smart-ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for this president to fail so they could  be proved right in their dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles who have turned “news” into just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted infantile country.

Here’s the good news:  President Obama is succeeding without the help of his lefty “supporters”  or hate-filled Republican detractors! 

The future looks good

After Obama has served two full terms (and he will), after his wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on all fronts – with a canny and calculating eye to the possible  succeeds (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries are  burgeoning (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved not just wrong but silly: Let the record show that not all Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling. 

Just because we didn’t get everything we wanted in the first short and fraught year Obama was in  office, not all of us gave up. Some of us stayed the course. And we will be proved right. 

Frank Schaeffer, a long-time Republican and McCain supporter in the primaries, is a writer and author of “Patience With God – Faith For People Who Don’t Like Religion (Or Atheism)” and “Crazy for God: How I Grew up as One of the Elite, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.”  For more about Schaeffer, go to www.frankschaeffer.com.

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Unlikely Obama supporter says president will triumph