I’ve already voted. I voted for President Obama. That’s probably a given, since I am neither insane or misinformed. However, I didn’t do it with less enthusiasm than I would have in 2008. I did it with more.
This is the only time in my lifetime that I’ve had this kind of reaction to a President, though I voted happily for Clinton both times. This is different. Obama is my kind of leader. He is the President I would have created were I given the opportunity.
He is all that a great leader should be. He is a big person, not prone to pettiness. He put this on display by reaching out to Chris Christie who had been bashing him on the trail. A strong leader should be guided by principle over personal grievances. Obama has shown that he is over and over again.
Obama has the temperament of a brilliant leader. He walks softly but carries a big stick. He treats disagreement as a challenge and opportunity instead of something to be shut down. He conducts himself with the grace of forgiveness and the power of someone who believes that injustice must not stand.
Obama remembers where he came from and he carries those understandings to his shaping of domestic policy. He believes in the American dream and values hard work and opportunity. He is the personification of the American dream, in fact. He knows he didn’t build that on his own.
As a woman, the fact that the Obama administration has done more for women’s rights than any other moves me. But I also notice how he treats his wife and girls. I see the respect he has for his equally brilliant wife. I see a man who married up, proudly (by up I refer to her strength and intelligence, not economic status or beauty though she does have the latter to spare).
Maybe part of my feelings for this president come from an inherent understanding of the way he thinks because it’s similar to the way I think (similar but much more brilliant. I am no strategist, for instance). I can see where he’s going in advance and I find myself laughing at how he brings others along while the media buys the narrative that he just came to this idea, when I’m pretty sure he didn’t.
A few examples – the media has bought that Obama hasn’t done much for left wing causes, but they clearly have no idea what he buried in the stimulus package – a veritable gift basket of liberal goodies that explains why the right hates it so much. Addressing climate change, rebuilding infrastructure, and more. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.
While others believe that he just came around to gay rights, I suspect he was already there. If you read his books, he talks about his ability to position people. Take that along with his belief that the people need to demand the change, that his is how government should work, and you have a recipe for a leader who offered himself up as the example of the reluctant to the party but now glad to be there guest. In reality, Obama has a long history of very liberal beliefs that he smartly hides beneath a centrist style of governing and a fiscally responsible approach to the budget.
And perhaps that is why I enjoy him so much. I am not a strategist and I’m terrible at playing politics. To see a charismatic leader take liberal ideology and cleverly embed it into our cultural beliefs, thereby making permanent change instead of reactionary change, is just breath taking. Obama mainstreams liberal beliefs.
He makes the public cry with him, yes, tax the rich! Yes, gay marriage! Yes, feed the poor! Yes, women’s rights! Yes, end the wars! All the while, he never gives away the game. He genuinely extends his hand across the aisle so that his own party is angry, only feeding the narrative that he needs for cover. He tried. He tried so hard. And he does try, and he does offer olive branches the left doesn’t like, but he does so with an eye to balance and pragmatism. Still, it’s good optics if you’re paying attention. He leaves the obstructionists with no cover.
Sigh. His own party is mad but he tried.
Well, gee, since the Republicans won’t go along, let’s ask the people. Poll the people…. The people want the rich taxed! Go figure. Do you think it was Obama’s 4 year narrative that it was time for fairness in the tax code? Nah.
The people want it, and Obama thinks it’s right.
You can see it coming each time. It takes months and years for his strategies to come to fruition. If you haven’t read his books, you might think this is all wishful thinking. But he admits as a youngster being able to set up the adults.
I doubt his own party or base will even know half of what he did for the cause until long after his second term is over. He will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. He comes across as the centrist middle grounder and he does govern that way, but he’s already passed healthcare reform that no other president could get passed and pushed a platform of economic justice.
And then there’s his foreign policy and improvement in foreign relations. Again, a strong, tough, leader who is feared by the enemy and appreciated by our allies. He puts consensus first but backs up his bottom line and means what he says. No, it’s not my ideal world of no war, but it’s as close as it can get in these times. It’s a talk first, sanctions first approach. He puts our needs first, empowers our allies and teams up with them to punish those who threaten world safety.
I have never forgotten that when most politicians and the media abandoned all sense to the Bush administration’s “patriotism means never asking questions”, Obama took a stand against the Iraq war. He was one of few to do so. Sometimes it is only in looking back that we can see clearly.
In October of 2002, President Obama said of the Iraq War: “That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics…. Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power…. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors…and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.
I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.
I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars. So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president.”
He ended with, “Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.”
If people look beyond his style, they might see what I see. Not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination. But a brilliant man. A man of courage and integrity. A man who does not lie to us or hide from us when times are tough. A man who cares. A man who also just so happens to believe in the core foundations of liberalism but who can do more than dream or rant. He knows how to deliver via mainstreaming those ideas. I factcheck the President daily and while there is spin, there are never blatant denials of reality. He is a man of his word.
I voted for President Obama’s second term and I did it with the knowledge that I have had the privilege of voting for one of the best presidents in history.
Obama has done much to restore the Democratic Party, and liberalism. There are many leaders waiting in the wings who all bring wonderful traits. But the truth is that this president is special. He just is.
His brilliance, strategy, reason over emotion, charisma, and core beliefs restored the values of Enlightenment liberalism — equality, open minds, economic justice, vigorous intellectual debate creating sounder policy and a love of the people. The opposite is what we see from the Republican Party; the idea of state religion, divine rights of kings, absolute power, and hereditary privilege. Obama not only loves this country, but he loves her people. This shines through all that he does, just as the same trait drove Chris Christie to profusely thank and praise the President.
Some leaders really do love the people they serve. In times of crisis, it shows.
There is much more to accomplish, and I look forward to his second term. If it is half as successful as his first, the nation will be a much better place for the long-term.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.