Obama: Above the Fray, Below All Blame
Obama, the Infallible
During the 2008 presidential election cycle, President George W. Bush, a two term president, was the centerpiece of the debate. Candidate Barack Obama vowed to end the wars Bush started and to heal the partisan divisions widened during his time. Sen. John McCain struggled to defend his party’s leader, losing in a landslide to Obama, riding a high wave of anti-Bush sentiment sweeping across the country, ushering in the age of Obama.
Fast forward to 2016, now President Obama’s record does not seem to be up for discussion. While presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump states that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would essentially be Barack Obama’s third term, he has not attacked the current president’s policies specifically for the most part. Opting instead of to attack Hillary on character.
The media has taken a more than kind approach to Obama. They have, in a way, created him. They propelled him to prominence by hyping up the historical nature of his campaign in 2008 after vaulting him to political stardom following his 2004 Democratic Convention speech that put him on the map. Any kind of criticism thrown his way was immediately batted down as a racist attack against our first African American president. Yet, once he was in the White House, Obama continued to skirt harsh evaluation as the media continued to take it easy on him, allowing his administration to do many things that would have garnered much more attention if any other president had done so.
In a CBS interview last month, Obama said, “The current presidential election is just the tip of a broader iceberg of dysfunction that we’ve seen.” Yet, over the past seven-plus years, Obama, as well as the lapdog mainstream media, has ignored his culpability in our current state of affairs. How do you think this all came into existence? Our dear leader has shaped our country to his image and it has apparently backfired on him. Without Barack Obama as president from 2009 to 2016, it is very possible that Donald Trump is not the current Republican nominee for president and possible commander in chief in 2017.
While the media seemed to pounce on every action that President Bush took or heaped blame of the recession on him in the runup to the 2008 election in order to help solidify the Democrats as the ruling party for the next eight years, today they seem much more restrained in their covering of the executive’s involvement in the big issues currently facing our country, especially since their guy is in office.
The Obama administration has established a propaganda machine similar to the way previous presidents have, except it has become more cunning, even casual. By establishing himself as above politics since his big 2004 speech, Obama has positioned perfectly above the fray of partisan politics. He even set himself up as outside the D.C. bubble during his 2008 campaign, but quickly became absorbed by the Beltway. Have partisan politics doubled during the Obama years? Absolutely. Has Obama ever reached across the aisle to Republicans to work together on something? Not in any meaningful way. Americans have done their best to curb Obama’s increasing grip on power, rewarding Republicans with the House of Representatives in 2010, over 60% of governorships nationwide, and a majority in the Senate in 2012.
Headline Stories Swept Under the Rug
This election is the Republicans’ to lose, but it would be even more of a slam dunk if Obama was treated with the same scrutiny and attention that Bush was during his time in office.
Stories that would be headline stories everyday if a Republican were in the White House have become back page stories as the media is obsessed with the Donald Trump phenomenon (myself included).
Here are a handful of stories that should be getting more coverage and that should be viewed more in the context of Obama’s actions, or inactions, but are not, for some reason or another.
The U.S. economy grew at a measly 0.5% in the first quarter of 2016. This is the slowest quarterly pace in over two years. Obama’s recovery has been met with mixed reviews, but it has been, without a doubt, one of the slowest post-recession comebacks in American history.
Russian military planes have been buzzing by U.S. Navy ships on a regular basis. The former Soviet Union has been toying with the American military in ways they did not dare to do during the Bush years. In April 2016, two Russian ships flew within 30 feet of a U.S. ship in the Baltic Secretary of State John Kerry had harsh words for his Russian counterparts.
China has been building up its military forces for years now and has been constructing islands in the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. On those islands, the Communist country is building ports for ships to dock and air strips for planes to land. Beijing’s aggressive moves have put U.S. allies such as Japan and the Philippines on edge.
Early in May 2016, a Navy SEAL was killed in Iraq. While the Obama administration insists we have soldiers there in a non-combat role, he cannot deny the fact that just as many American troops have died in Iraq so far this year as did all last year. We have almost 6,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Further, Obama is going to great lengths to cement his Nobel Peace Prize-winning, war-ending legacy, but, he cannot escape the simple fact that he will have been at war for his entire two term presidency, longer than any other president in U.S. history. Our government continues to lie to its people about its involvement in overseas operations. It is time for our country to adopt a more selfish and sustainable foreign policy that puts America’s interests, and America’s alone, at the top.
Islamic State terror attacks in Baghdad over the course of last week killed over 200 people. The Iraqi government continued to prove its incapability of securing or governing its own people. The country has splintered under Obama’s watch, after being a relatively stable society in the winter of 2009. Iraq continues to spiral out of control following Obama’s politically motivated retreat from the country and his antidote for resolving the ensuing crisis is more of the same.
Obama has always puts politics before principle, making sure his retreat from overseas conflicts was noted by our doting media. Yet, after fifteen years of occupying Afghanistan, the Taliban is still very much alive and well, despite the fact that we keep droning to death its leaders. Al-Qaeda has similarly taken another shape in the form of the Islamic State. Obama has expanded the drone war to countries from Libya and Somalia to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The expansion of drone strikes under Obama has been scantily covered by the media and deserves far more attention.
The horrific war in Syria continues, but who wants to talk about that downer? This conflict, Obama cannot put at Bush’s feet. The civil war started toward the end of Obama’s first term and is likely to continue beyond the end of his second. While the solutions to this crisis are far from clear, Obama’s actions in alleving it have been difficult to comprehend.
Stemming from Syria, the Middle East refugee crisis shows no signs of slowing down. Leaving the war torn areas of Iraq and Syria, many are fleeing to the mostly welcoming countries of Europe. This clash of cultures is leading to a rise in nationalist fervor in many countries and forcing others to rethink their immigration policies and involvement in the European Union all together.
Pushed Around by Enemies, Letting in Friends (from other countries)
Military provocations keep coming from unpredictable regimes of Iran and North Korea. The Islamic Republic recently captured American troops on boats in the Persian Gulf, putting embarrassing images out on the internet. Furthermore, Iran seems to be pushing its luck in keeping its end of the nuclear weapons program accord, defiantly testing missiles in March 2016. North Korea, on the other hand, claims that U.S. military action on the Korean peninsula justifies its aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. So, the authoritarian regime launched a missile from a submarine off the Korean Peninsula earlier this year in April, though likely not a success, this action and other similar ones in the recent past have put the U.S. and South Korea, in particular, on high alert.
Most egregiously, Obama has not upheld his oath to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Especially when enforcing immigration law, the president has handpicked which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore. While immigrants rights groups claim that Obama has deported a good many illegal immigrants over the years, he has actually done the exact opposite, pursuing an open borders policy. Encouraging children to illegally enter our country following his 2014 executive action deferring deportation for children under 16 and expanding it to include all who entered before 2010 and everyone under 31 years old, we are likely to see another large wave of unaccompanied children at the southern border this summer.
U.S. Border Patrol agents are being told to release illegal immigrants and no longer order them to appear at hearings, basically giving them a right to stay in our country, without tracking them. "We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether," suggested agent Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
California will soon be a part of Mexico if current trends continue. Almost half of all new driver’s licenses issued in 2015 went to undocumented immigrants, over 600,000 out of 1.4 million. Along those same lines, well over a quarter of the population speaks Spanish as its first language.
As Donald Trump has said on many occasions, “You either have a country or you don’t.” America is the only country in the world that bends over backwards to accommodate its illegal immigrant population. Are we the land of the opportunity? Do we owe those seeking a better life in the U.S. anything? Or are we a nation of laws?
The courts have had to step up to check Obama’s overreach on immigration. A federal appeals court rejected President Obama's effort to move forward with a series of executive actions at the end of last year that would have given quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, with the way the Supreme Court is divided 4 to 4 in terms of liberals vs. progressives, this issue is likely not to get enshrined in our laws until the next president. The can gets kicked down the road yet again, while Obama increases his dependency on executive actions to get his agenda through.
The Obama administration demanded every public school in America provide “suitable” bathroom and locker room facilities to match transgender students’ “chosen gender identity,” but I’m sure you heard about that. How this all of the sudden became such a pressing issue that the president needed to weigh in on is beyond me. The Oklahoma Legislature did not like this dictate from on high from Obama as they filed a measure last week asking the U.S. Congress to impeach the president based on these actions. According to the measure, the Constitution does not grant “the executive branch of the federal government any authority whatsoever over the public education system, nor over the use of restrooms or other facilities thereof.” Obama is definitely overreaching here as well, but this issue is such a slam dunk for him and his liberal lackeys that he’ll risk criticism and even impeachment to pander to the transgender community (that makes up anywhere from 0.2%-0.3% of the population).
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted after the president’s transgender-related recommendation: “Has our Constitutional Law Professor-President ever read the 9th and 10th Amendments?” Whatever rights not granted to the federal government in the Constitution are automatically designated to the realm of the states. Obama believes that Washington D.C., the executive branch specifically, should decide everything for everyone else in the 50 vastly different states across our beautiful country because they know better than you.
That’s not how it works.
The Blame Game
While not all of these issues mentioned above are of Obama’s doing, more can be looked into his responses and how he allowed these stories to become reality. President Obama’s media handlers have been successful at keeping the president as far away from these crises as possible, while marketing the commander in chief as more of a Hollywood celebrity than wonky politician. His public relations team brilliantly leaves others such as Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, or Attorney General Loretta Lynch to be his public face and voice on most delicate or controversial matters. That way, the problems don’t appear to be Obama’s, keeping a safe distance from stories that would otherwise garner negative publicity. Obama and team are deft at manipulating the media. How do you think he got where he is?
Mr. Obama is also the beneficiary of news-media managers and reporters who mostly like his style and agree with his policies, from his reluctance to make strong military commitments to his advocacy for LGBT rights, fighting climate change and supporting tougher gun-control laws. Crisis after crisis, Obama escapes blame as the media goes after Republicans or some other boogeyman not named Barack Hussein.
Today, another savvy media manipulator is at the top of everyone’s minds in the political world. Donald Trump is a pro at promoting his brand and getting his name in the news. Yet, Trump does not share the same cozy relationship with the media that Obama’s team enjoys. The media actually despises Trump and has done everything in its power to diminish and minimize his impact. However, they seem no longer able to avoid the Donald as he wades into the political arena, guns blazing.
House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said on Glenn Thrush’s podcast, Off Message, that Obama “hasn’t learned with experience.” Amazingly, he “doubles down on ideology.” Obama is a very liberal progressive, maybe even a socialist, in terms of political philosophy. Ryan, a pragmatic, but principled, conservative, continued by clarifying Obama’s errors, saying, “he dogmatically pursues an agenda that is harmful to our country.” Americans are not happy with where we are going, but Obama’s approval ratings are currently about double what Bush’s were at this same point in time during 2008.
Even though most Americans think the country is on the wrong track, they somehow seem to not blame Obama specifically for the downward trend of the nation, as revealed by a jump in Obama’s approval ratings to 51% in a recent WSJ/NBC poll. This is the first time he has topped the 50% mark since the beginning of his second term, a reality that could help Clinton in November. Whether or not Americans want the continuance of the status quo or a shaking up of the system is still up for debate. Trump and Clinton seem neck and neck at the moment. Either way, Obama’s place in all of this seems tertiary for some perplexing reason.
Even Trump’s attacks on Obama are not that scathing. He seems to save his most devastating attacks for Hillary & Bill Clinton and the sixteen other presidential candidates he disposed of over the past year. The media continues to let criticism of Obama go unheard of while focusing all attention on the Trump vs. Clinton horse race taking shape.
All in all, Obama will remain above it all as he winds down his final year in office. He will continue looking down on the two current candidates in the pit, slinging mud at each other, vying for his spot, pretending he is not one of them.