I’ve never written a column like this. Readers rarely believe it, but I am not on any political team. Generosity toward the high and mighty isn’t among my few virtues. But this needs to be said: Americans are lucky to have Barack Obama as president, and we should wake up and appreciate it while we can.
Obama will go down in history as an extraordinary president, probably a great one. He will have done this in an era that doesn’t aggrandize leaders and presidents, but shrinks them. All presidents have had profound opposition, vicious enemies and colossal failures. A few were beloved and others deeply respected in their day, but none in the modern era, and certainly not Obama.
Why? Marcus Aurelius said, “Man is puny in the face of destiny.” If the stoic king were writing about modern, democratic sovereigns, he might say, “Kings are puny in a world blind to destiny, a world seen through the sacred screens of televisions and computers that can view only the puny.”
Many presidents fared better in history than in office. But it would be a morale booster and a sign of civic maturity if more Americans appreciated what an exceptional president they have right now. It could be a long wait for the next one.
One can hate Democrats, disagree with Obama on big issues, dislike his style or be disappointed the excitement of his election didn’t last. But his accomplishments, ambitious goals, dignity and honesty under tough circumstances demand admiration and appreciation.
This is, of course, perverse liberal-media propaganda to conservative Obama-haters. It’s wobbly centrism to a left-flank frustrated Obama hasn’t done more for them. And it’s naïve hot air to Washington’s political clans that think Obama doesn’t play the game well.
Changing minds with a keypad is a fool’s errand; I’m surely a fool, but not on that count. I simply offer some points for the open-minded to ponder:
• The Iran deal: Time will reveal if the deal worked, not today’s talking/tweeting heads. What cannot be in dispute is this was a momentous initiative, a gutsy political risk, a diplomatic success and, potentially, a giant step in defusing a long-ticking time bomb.
• Obamacare: In the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression, Obama delivered one of the most important domestic programs since the New Deal. Only LBJ’s Great Society laws compare. Obamacare has survived two challenges in the Supreme Court and constant, kabuki-style congressional votes to repeal. It’s now off life support. Key goals are being met. It will evolve and improve. One day it will be taken for granted and people will say, “Keep the government out of my Obamacare.”
• The financial meltdown: Obama inherited it, then managed the recovery to the degree possible in the global economy. The recovery has been steady, though slow. The worst-case predictions didn’t happen. He began to reverse the deregulation of the financial industry. He delivered a significant Asian trade deal. Yet, few give Obama much credit.
• The first: Becoming the first black president is itself an epic triumph. Obama doesn’t get much goodwill for that any more. We properly canonize Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King. Of Obama, we ask, “What have you done for me lately?” That’s fair; he’s president. He doesn’t ask for credit for being the first black one. He and his family are at risk every day, and we take their courage for granted.
• Dignity and honesty: Obama’s administration has been as free of corruption and, well, peccadillo as any in memory. It’s the first two-term presidency not to be derailed by scandal since Eisenhower. A few will stay in paranoid lather about Benghazi or Fast and Furious, but those pseudo-scandals don’t compare to Watergate, Iran-Contra, Bill Clinton’s carnal antics or the phony evidence used to justify attacking Iraq.
Obama has weathered a recession, invisible racism, a reckless Republican Congress, a lily-livered Democratic Party, attacks from the richest pressure groups ever (super PACs) and a 24/7, ADHD press corps under existential pressure to deliver page views and Nielsen ratings. He has done it with the “No Drama Obama” style that befits the office.
Obama isn’t a performer like Reagan or a preacher like Clinton. He’s head over heart, cool over warm. Yet, he did his pastoral duties after Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon and Charleston. He wasn’t a catalyst for same-sex marriage but nourished the culture that made it possible.
It is harder than ever to see the big canvas and thus find fresh perspectives. We view current events as puny rivers of tweets, not grand chapters in the ultimate story — history.
In that longer view, we should feel well served. So, Mr. President, on behalf of an ungrateful nation, thank you.
The Bible can be taught as literature, just not as belief. Do you really want the Bible to be taught as belief in government schools? Some teachers would mock the Bible, others would insist that church attendance on Sundays in mandatory. I agree with the Constitution, don't teach belief in government schools.
You've stumbled onto the problem there Rabbit. Religion at the discretion of the teachers. Teachers can be atheist or of any faith, we could not limit prayers to Christian prayers.
Atheist claim they don't follow a religion so by their own claim you can rule them out (although we both probably know that's not true). My teachers who were religious never pushed any of their beliefs that weren't actually in line with laws or facts in text books. They would pray but when they prayed it was only for guidance and harmony.. Whether some people recognize it or not the country was founded by people who had faith and many of the laws of government were based off their religious beliefs. None of that falls outside of what I would consider the teachers reasonable discretion I mentioned earlier.
However, rather than try to define reasonable discretion which was never really a written rule. When people started fear mongering exagerrated claims like not wanting kids exposed to weird, off-beat religious views, or Eastern or atheist views in primary school for that matter the Government just decided to eliminate it completely and prosecute school systems that disregarded the newly enforced laws regarding religion in schools.
In all my years no one I know nor myself has ever claimed being exposed to any of the things you mentioned before the crack down on religion in schools. In fact I would say a perverted extremely one sided (Atheist) form of religion started being pushed more in schools after the laws.... it is a religion of disharmony and chaos which is rampantly evident
Jason, this is the statement on school prayer that has been adapted by Adventists and 30 other religious groups. Your preference for entangling church and public schools is not supported by the SDA church or the U.S. Constitution.
1. Students have the right to pray individually or in groups or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive. Because the Establishment Clause does not apply to purely private speech, students enjoy the right to read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, pray before tests, and discuss religion with other willing student listeners. In the classroom students have the right to pray quietly except when required to be actively engaged in school activities (e.g., students may not decide to pray just as a teacher calls on them). In informal settings, such as the cafeteria or in the halls, students may pray either audibly or silently, subject to the same rules of order as apply to other speech in these locations. However, the right to engage in voluntary prayer does not include, for example, the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate.
16. Schools may teach civic virtues, including honesty, good citizenship, sportsmanship, courage, respect for the rights and freedoms of others, respect for persons and their property, civility, the dual virtues of moral conviction and tolerance and hard work. Subject to whatever rights of excusal exist (see #15 above) under the federal Constitution and state law, schools may teach sexual abstinence and contraception; whether and how schools teach these sensitive subjects is a matter of educational policy. However, these may not be taught as religious tenets. The mere fact that most, if not all, religions also teach these values does not make it unlawful to teach them.
Of course kids can pray on their own in school, I have always thought that, it's not a change in my mind. Just no government lead religious prayer or instruction.
It's not that complicated, the Constitution and the SDA church are in full agreement.
Your faith in teachers is heart-warming, but still we have the Establishment clause. No promoting of faith in government schools. That's the way it is. The constitution and the SDA church are in agreement.
Students can share their faith at recess, but no promoting religion or prayer in the classroom. The SDA church is 100% in agreement with that. Just look at the previous messages and you can see the official church belief that I posted.
I'm not so sure if Obama respects the separation of church and state. It seems he has done an awful lot to me to join both together. but I am sure his successor or successors will do even more. This has been building a long time before Obama.
And in the end both parties are the same, They are really not that different and serve the same master.
Ross, What exactly has President Obama done to entangle church and state?