Thank you, President Obama

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With so much ugliness and negativity in this interminable presidential campaign, I thought I’d devote this final column before the historic election to something positive – thanking President Barack Obama for being such a class act.

Forced to deal with some of the nastiest people in the world and in America, Barack Obama has conducted himself with dignity and grace, honesty and good humor. Thank you, President Obama, for being such a decent human being. Imagine spending two terms as president of the United States without a single scandal.

And imagine raising two lovely daughters in the White House without incident. No wonder Michelle Obama is more popular than her husband or either major presidential candidate and has been rated by historians as one of the top five first ladies in history, in the company of Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, Jackie Kennedy and Dolly Madison. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Obama, for being such a model American family.

Conservatives would like us to believe that Barack Obama has been a weak and ineffective president, that under his administration the U.S. economy has tanked and U.S. prestige has suffered around the world. Wrong! Big time!

Barack Obama inherited an economy in freefall and took strong, decisive measures to get it back under control. Between 2010 and 2016 the U.S. saw the largest sustained job growth since 1998, adding 800,000 jobs. The auto industry Obama rescued had all-time record sales in 2015. Production of clean, renewable energy has doubled. Unemployment has been cut in half. And the stock market is up 220 percent over 2009.

Yes, the whole world is plagued by terrorism, but that’s not Barack Obama’s fault. You might just as well blame Reagan and Bush Sr. for arming the Taliban and supporting Osama Bin Laden and George W. for invading Iraq based on the WMD lie. And the U.S. military that pseudo-patriots like to run down is as strong as ever. U.S. military spending now exceeds that of the next 11 countries combined.

And, oh yes, about that nonexistent border with Mexico that threatens the very existence of the United States in the addled pates of the alt-right, the Obama administration actually increased deportations over the Bush administration such that between 2010 and 2015 more Mexicans left the United States than entered it.

There are legitimate problems with the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature accomplishment, but it’s not as if health insurance rate increases were under control before Obamacare passed. If Republicans had helped work to make the program a success instead of fomenting the hysterical notion that health care mandates were an assault on American freedom maybe the ACA would be in better shape today. It needs reform, not repeal.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never been a huge, uncritical Obama fan. He’s progressive, but not progressive enough for me. I have problems with his approval of off-shore fracking and his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but (note to Republicans) you can’t expect a president to do everything you want her to do.

In the plus column, President Obama jump-started the economy with the stimulus package, saved the U.S. auto industry, tried to make good on Americans’ desire to get U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, eliminated Osama Bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak, renegotiated the START Treaty with Russia, re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, ended the immediate threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and improved America’s image abroad.

Obama’s job approval rating one month before the election stood at 53 percent, placing him third among presidents since World War II behind Dwight Eisenhower (58 percent) and Bill Clinton (57 percent). “The function of posterity,” as poet Dylan Thomas wrote, “is to look after itself,” so we have no way of knowing how future Americans will view our country’s first African-American president. But if a 2015 poll of members of the American Political Science Association conducted by the Brookings Institution is any guide, Obama may fare well among our descendants.

No president can be expected to break into the Big Three of Lincoln, Washington and FDR, but the pros rated Obama a credible No. 18, below Clinton at 8, Reagan at 11 and JFK at 14, but way ahead of Ford at 24, Carter at 26, Nixon at 34 and George W. Bush at 35. My own gut feeling is that Obama’s star will rise greatly in the coming years. But let’s let comic Jimmy Fallon have the final word.

“Thank you, President Obama,” Fallon said in his “Thank You Card” sequence on the June 9 Tonight Show, “for serving our nation with dignity, class, patience, eloquence, optimism and integrity, thus marking the first time anyone has said, ‘Thanks, Obama.’”

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

  • JohnQCitizen

    So Edgar, we added 800,000 jobs since 2000. No bad since we have added 55 million citizens in the same timeframe, bot legal and illegal! From 275 million in 2000 to 330 million in 2016. Not bad my friend! What happened to the 53,200,000 other citizens?

    • EABeem

      800,000 jobs added between 2010 and 2016. Obama turned around the Bush recession. The US population grew by 10 million in that time, most of those people children.

      • poppypapa

        And how many added to the unemployment rolls, the food stamp rolls, and the no longer seeking employment rolls during that time frame?

        Or you could just check the work force participation figures over the same time frame.

  • JohnQCitizen

    Nice try Ed, but this was not Bush’s recession. The recession was caused by the housing bubble, brought to you by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd who said that every American should have their own home, regardless of whether they could afford it or not. They were fueled by a democrat controlled congress who refused to stop it. And, please review your employment numbers with regard to population and what percent are children!

  • MisterMainer

    College educated liberals are the least tolerant of all. Who knew? /s

    This election cycle certainly highlighted bad liberal behavior. God bless Wikileaks!

    Hypocrisy is the foundation upon which all liberalism is built.

  • truther

    No scandals, no -gates, no tabloid photos . . . just a government of grownups doing their jobs. It hasn’t been perfect but compared to what came before and what Congress has become it’s incredible how smoothly functioning the Obama White House is.

    Partisans need to give credit where it’s due. If you hate Obama and the liberals/progressives/Democrat Party/whatever-you’re-calling-them so much you can’t even acknowledge some self-evident truths then your opinion really doesn’t matter.

    • EABeem

      My feelings exactly. I keep reading that, win or lose, we need to acknowledge the concerns of Trump supporters, but quite honestly I don’t care what someone who thinks Trump should be president thinks. He is just so obviously unfit in every way that being a Trump supporter marks one as uninformed, misinformed, deeply prejudiced or worse.

      • truther

        I’ll quibble with you only in that a lot of Trump supporters seem to be blue collar workers legitimately anxious about how globalization and modernization threaten their livelihoods. So whether they embrace a demonstrably unqualified psychopath or not doesn’t change the fact that many Americans are hurting.

        Other than that, though, you’re objectively correct. He’s so obviously unfit it’s kind of scandalous that he’s a candidate. I just can’t take seriously or respect any politician — as opposed to laid off assembly line worker — who supports him. They should know better and they’re cowards for pretending otherwise.

        • EABeem

          I suppose I should be more sympathetic, but I’m not sure how people who want government out of their lives think government can solve their problems.

  • Jimmy_John67

    The past 16 years of Presidential leadership has been the weakest since the 1920s because of the kind of blind fanaticism from members of both parties clearly displayed in this piece. Articles like this where the author slobbers all over one individual or party by drastically over simplifying events and purposely cherry picking stats while blaming any shortcomings on unnamed scheming members of the opposing party are simply embarrassing and do nothing to advance ideas and further policy for the good of all Americans. This kind of ignorant and hate filled propaganda is why next week we will choose from two of the worst presidential candidates since the invention of the lightbulb. Well done Ed, you have helped make the country a more regressive and divided place for your kids and grandkids. You must be very proud.

  • EABeem

    Philadelphia Police Commissioner Robert Ross had this to say in a July NPR piece on Obama’s legacy. I believe he is exactly right.

    “I have not told you whether I’m a Republican or Democrat and I won’t,” he says. But I do believe this nation will miss this president. I really do. Like it or not, he brought us through a recession. Like it or not, he bailed out an auto industry. Like it or not, he found and dealt with one of the biggest terrorists that we’ve ever seen … in our history. And the list could go on and on. And yet they call him a weak president, and I’ll never understand that.”

  • BillyDe ”°º×»-(¯`v´¯)-» ♥ ♥

    Obama’s high approval rating is because he’s Black and no one wants to be labeled a

    I, for one, think Barack Obama ♥☻is the best president this country has ever had. Amen.

  • Charles Martel

    Not from a conservative but a libertarian:

  • funfundvierzig

    “Thanking President Barack Obama for being such a class act.”

    A class act: In the waning weeks of his lacklustre Presidency, Obama and his wife Michelle tried frantically to foist off on regular American women and men a grotesquely corrupt woman and pathological liar as his successor.

    It did not work, much to the anguish and agony of ultra-liberals. Now unfortunately for President Obama, one of his major legacies will always be his protege who soiled the Office of Secretary of State, trafficking in bribes and influence peddling via her eponymous Family Foundation. A Foundation, we might add, that is little more than a crime syndicate.

    Thank you, Mr. Obama for Crooked Hillary.