After criticizing President Obama throughout his second term, I’ve reversed course and decided that he’s a tremendous leader, one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.
Perfection is too high of a bar to set for any man, or any president, but Obama has come close to clearing it. What stands between this president and Mount Rushmore?
Republicans — specifically, the stubborn extremists who control the House under the weak leadership of Speaker John Boehner. Gridlock, hyper-partisanship, and ineffective governance, those traits that make Washington so unpopular with voters, are singularly the fault of the GOP.
It is not Obama’s fault; none of it. The president alone struggled to reach across party lines — to build relationship with Republicans, to empathize and understand their points of view, to find common ground on vexing national issues.
“Leadership” is too weak of a word for what Obama has brought to Washington after winning the presidency on a simple promise to change the culture of Washington. “I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations,” he said during the 2008 campaign. “But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”
Fact is, he got it done — all of it. Not only did he pull troops out of Iraq and avert an economic depression, the president tamed joblessness, reversed climate change, improved the nation’s reputation abroad, turned a debt crisis into a budget surplus, and provided affordable health care to millions of Americans. Mission Accomplished.
Obama succeeded while fostering a bipartisan mood in Washington that began, actually, at the 2004 Democratic National Convention when he declared, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is a United States of America.”
Only a man of immense humility could achieve such greatness while constantly reminding the public of his own limitations. Obama’s modesty confounded political reporters and other “Green Lanternists” — those who believe that presidential powers, in the hands of the right leader, are immense. Obama needed only a magical pen and phone.
Leadership, it is he.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."