Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Obama Will Triumph -- So Will America

By Frank Schaeffer

Before he'd been in office 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's shown he will succeed by slow, calm and steady...staying the course.

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

Obama's loyal supporters will be proven 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 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 hailed him as a Messiah not long ago; those lefty web sites and commentators that were falling 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 America is really two countries
  • Two wars; one mishandled from the start, the other unnecessary and immoral
  • The worst economic crisis since the depression
  • America's standing in the world at its lowest point in history
  • A country misled into accepting the use of torture on 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/Cheney administration and 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 these were just some of the problems left for Obama to deal with when he came into office!

"Help" from the Right?

What did Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists (what 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 a secret communist, was the Anti-Christ, was the reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the elderly!

They called for his assassination through the not-so-subtle use of signs held up at rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized "tea parties" to sound off against imagined insults and government in general. They 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.

Utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who was trying to improve conditions for the poor, the environment, to diminish the number of abortions through compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! But in Congress the Republican leadership knew only one word: "No!"

In other words the reactionary white, uneducated, crazy far right, combined with educated neoconservative war mongers, religious right big business shills, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bugs, gun-toting crazies, child-molesting acquiescent "bishops", frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes...they all found one thing to agree on and rally around: their desire to stop a 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 blasted the President because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan. Choices he'd inherited from the worst president in U.S. history!

Others stood up to proclaim the President's economic policies "failed" before the President even instituted them! Others said since not all gay rights battles had not been won, they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind Obama's support of the gay community is stronger than any American President in history. Never mind that he signed new laws against hate crimes!)

Those who stood weeping with beatific emotion on election night 2008 turned into an angry mob, declaring their "disappointment" the world didn't change the moment Obama took the oath of office!

And the legion of young new voters was too busy texting to pay attention to how the media was making President Obama look like Hitler or Evil incarnate.

The President's critics, left and right, had one thing in common: impatience laced with no sense of history (let alone reality). Then of course there were the snide, white, know-it-all commentators and talking heads who just can't imagine that maybe, just maybe they aren't as smart as they thought they were and certainly not as smart as a Black President. He hadn't consulted them so he must be wrong!

The ideological ideas of Obama critics' defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas. Meanwhile back in the reality-based community - in just 12 short months -- President Obama scored victories that went unreported on the evening news:

#Continued to wind down the misbegotten war in Iraq (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Restored America's image around the globe (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Banned torture of American prisoners (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of the American economy (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community (But that wasn't good enough for his critics

#Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stood up for educational reform (No, that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Won a Nobel Peace Prize (Not even that was good enough for his critics, who lambasted him for the honor)

#Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and balances (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Did what he'd promised to do to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had failed to even touch (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good humor and patience (not good enough for his critics)+

#Stopped the free fall of job losses (Not even that was good enough for his critics)

#Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed, dangerous far right opposition that included people who showed 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". (That got no praise from his critics)

#Showed that he could not only make tough military choices but explain and defend them brilliantly (Not even that was good enough for his critics)

Are these what you would call "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN ONE YEAR! I think not.

Who has actually failed are Americans who can't see the beginning of a miracle, right under their noses. Who failed are the ideologues of the left and right who began hoping this President would fail so they could be proven correct in their dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles who have turned "news" into more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted, gossip crazed society

But here's the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the help of his "supporters" on the left and despite his hate-filled Republican detractors on the right!

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 uncanny and calculating eye to achieving success (and he will), after the economy is booming and new industries are burgeoning (and they will), after the naysayers are proved wrong: let the record show that not all Americans panicked and jumped ship at the first sign of a storm.

Just because we didn't get everything we wanted in the health care bill, and his first year in office...not all of us are giving up! Some of us are staying the course. And we will be proved right.

If you agree that Obama is shaping up to be a great president, please pass this on and hang in there! Pass it on anyway to ensure that his "report card" gets the attention it deserves.


  1. You sound pretty partisan to me, N.P.!

  2. guy probably can't give an interview. Difficult to talk with Obama's dick in his mouth.

  3. Non-Partisan,
    That was a brilliantly reasoned and undeniably true summation of a truly remarkable man. Barack Obama is earning every single penny of his paycheck, which is far more than I can say for his predecessor and all of the Republicans and most of the Blue Dog Democrats in Congress. We are indeed lucky to be served and led by this man of vision, intelligence, and calm sensibility. Thank you for this superb piece!

  4. I agree with Jack! This is a superb piece indeed. I deny the (progressive) cynics that will set out to destroy this president through their lies, falsehoods and cruel arrogance. Join the Tea-Baggers is what I say. Stop trying to convince us that you really love him...Traitors one and all...

  5. When he acknowledges the University of Copenhagen's published scientific discovery and analysis of explosives in dust samples from 9-11 and demands that NIST include explosives analysis in their work scope (and stops feeding us the same bush propaganda regarding the unjust wars), I will (again) support him.
    The corporate mainstream media is obviously well controled, as they ignore the most newsworthy information (also including the Afghan pipeline, the freefall collapse of WTC building 7 on 9-11...and the NIST work scope omissions for the building 7 event). These are FACTS...not "theories". Most people refuse to discuss or consider them. How about some ACCOUNTABILITY?

  6. Good morning, Troofer! Glad you could join us!

  7. Bush left Obama so much crap to deal with (it really started with Reagan, but I don't have time to go there). It is impressive that Obama has done so much so well in such a short period of time, despite the likes of the teabagger types andother "reichwing" obstructionists and the far left for whom nothing is progressive enough. This article is an exceptional summary; congratulations to the author.

  8. Exceptional comment. It would be even more so if you would identify yourself with a nom de plume!

  9. Oooh, Oso can use vulgar slang! Your comments are hateful and ignorant and I've heard it all before from the extreme right. There's nothing original or even clever about you.

  10. Great article, and true. Sad, but true that Americans can't see the forest for the hate-filled trees. I wish my fellow evangelical Christians could speak on right authority, and respect. I hear people call the President "Obama" and "Mr.", terms I didn't hear President Bush referred to as. He may have been an unpopular President, but he was treated with more respect than this man. We keep saying it's not race, but whatever it is, it is disgusting. I am very sad at my fellow Republicans. I am making some hard decisions based on their actions. The Presidential Prayer team even notes their behavior. They use obstinate. I call them peevish pooir losers who are standing against something for nothing. God, bless America and all of us as Americans, including the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and the author of this great article.

  11. Great article. Thank you.

  12. Great article, thank you. I am also a former republican-- voted for W twice (and got to watch my vote help spin us into disaster). I spent two short years as an independent and until I realized that I really could accept the democrat foundations, in March of this last year. I work in finance, where the failure of the conservative framework (de-regulation coupled with recessive economic policy) has been most obvious.

    I feel like I have amends to make, so I'm working hard this year for progressive candidates by volunteering to knock on doors and make phone calls.

    I'd like to suggest that I bet there are lots of us- *new* liberals who feel a bit naked out here without years of being comfortable within a political peer group. That said, I'm at peace, I have no recidivist thoughts and will soldier on with this commander in chief.