I’ve gone on record as saying that we won’t truly appreciate Barack Obama’s presidency until he’s left office. I’m not going to say that he’s been flawless, but facts show that he’s been a damn good president. Especially when you consider the mess he inherited and the unprecedented obstruction he’s endured from the GOP. I will always wonder just how much he would have been able to accomplish had progressives gotten out to vote in 2010 and 2014 to give him a Congress that would have worked with him.
For the times in which we’re living, he’s that calm, cool, collected and big picture thinker we need in a leader. The way he can explain and articulate things is extraordinary.
Take for instance a fantastic interview he did with New York Magazine where he didn’t pull any punches when he called out how fanatics continue to take over the Republican party, and how even those within the GOP who wanted to work with him could never do so because of the radicalization driven by the tea party.
He brought up how, almost immediately, Republicans began to create this environment of dysfunction aimed at trying to win congressional seats in 2010 (which happened) and how it became popular within the conservative media to root against him — even if that meant rooting against the United States.
Though the best parts came when he discussed the 2016 election and the current status of the modern-day GOP.
“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,” Obama said. “Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.”
He also brought up how Republicans have paid for daring to publicly be too friendly toward him.
“They’re looking at Charlie Crist down in Florida,” the president stated. “One hug [from me] and he was toast. Chris Christie couldn’t get his presidential race launched — it was basically over before it started — because he was too friendly and cooperative with me in accepting federal aid for a state that had been devastated by a hurricane.”
“So it’s pretty hard for them to publicly say, ‘Obama’s a perfectly reasonable guy, but we just can’t work with him because our base thinks he’s the Antichrist.’ It’s a lot easier for them to say, ‘Oh, the guy’s not listening to us,’ or, ‘He’s uncompromising,'” he added. “I understand that, it’s not something that has bothered me personally. In fact, sometimes I tease them about it behind the scenes; I’ll tell them, ‘Look, if you need some help, me attacking you or you know …’ And the times where we have gotten things done, it has been very important for me to, frankly, help them try to manage their base.”
Later in the interview he brought up how hypocritical many Republicans were when it came to his military decisions, often saying he was “irresponsible” when he’d act or “weak” when he didn’t.
“It’s a theme that’s continued throughout my presidency, was the degree to which Republican critics could be on every side of every issue, depending on what decisions I had made,” he quipped.
“My decision was to see if we could broker a deal without a strike to get those chemical weapons out, and to go to Congress to ask for authorization, because nowhere has Congress been more incoherent than when it comes to the powers I have,” Obama added. “You had people, I think, like Marco Rubio, who was complaining about us not doing anything, and when I said, ‘I’m gonna present to Congress,’ suddenly he said, ‘Well, I’m gonna vote against it.’ Maybe it was Ted Cruz. Maybe both. They’re all over the map.”
He’s absolutely right.
For months Republicans complained that he wasn’t doing enough, or that what he was doing wasn’t Constitutional because he hadn’t gone through Congress. Then, when he said what he wanted to do, but that he wouldn’t act until Congress approved of it, Republicans suddenly found excuses to oppose military action in Syria, using the excuse that “it didn’t go far enough” — or whatever other nonsense they felt their naive supporters would believe.
I remember laughing at my Republican friends trying to defend their party for saying the president needed to do something, but only should with the approval from Congress, then jumping through hoops to make excuses when he did exactly what they said he should have done — yet their party still wouldn’t work with him.
If you have some time, I’d suggest you read the entire interview. It’s a very candid look into what President Obama thinks of certain aspects of his presidency, some of his biggest accomplishments (as well as controversies), what he thinks about the current state of the GOP, and how Republicans have had to act toward him due to the far-right push being driven by the tea party and the conservative media.