“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” –Theodore Roosevelt
Despite my distaste for the man’s progressivism, Teddy Roosevelt makes an excellent point. Presidents SHOULD be criticized . . . especially when we see he hasn’t held up his end of the bargain. You see, often times, we find it difficult to criticize the commander-in-chief simply because we honor and revere the office itself, and all that job that entails. Indeed, the office of the presidency is doubtless one of the most grueling, difficult, stressful jobs on planet earth. Much like Atlas of Greek mythology lore, the leader of the Free World lives with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Even when the term is up, no president returns to normalcy. Indeed, they remain in a “gilded cage,” as Ronald Reagan once put it. They are forever a public figure, chained to the legacy they left behind them. “Difficult” doesn’t begin to approach a good description. The presidency is no picnic.
This fact alone, however, does not automatically a great leader make.
I don’t often write responses to someone’s opinion piece because it is just that—an opinion piece. More often than not, one is not likely to change the staunchly-held opinion of someone . . . but nevertheless I simply couldn’t pass this one up. I think it is important to understand how greatness is sometimes—often—categorized.
The author? Huffington Post contributor Matthew Lynch, Ed.D.
Judging by the title, the author places Barack Obama up there with the likes of those such as Washington, the reluctant warrior who accepted the presidency after years of back-breaking revolutionary battle for his country; Abraham Lincoln who ended slavery; Ronald Reagan, who brought down the USSR without firing a shot.
Considering President Obama’s current polling numbers—placing him in the worst second term ever outside of Richard Nixon—it is a little hard to conceptualize the idea of placing this president in the same sentence as our history’s greatest leaders. To be fair, every leader—good or bad—has their off days. The problem is that we’ve been subject to a few off “years.” Rampant unemployment, a stagnant economy, an abject failure of a healthcare overhaul, increasingly emboldened global enemies . . . by most metrics, things have not improved. By most metrics, they’ve worsened under President Barack H. Obama.
I’d be thrilled if every president was truly deserving of being amongst “the greatest.” After all, if they lead effectively and govern according to time-tested principles of success . . . everyone benefits. Simply winning an election and occupying the office does not spell greatness. It’s simply a starting point. The rest remains to be proven.
Mr. Lynch opens up his piece with a personal anecdote, speaking to his feelings of joy and relief at the exiting of the “colossal failure” George W. Bush (raise your hand if you’d like Bush’s unemployment . . . gas prices . . . food prices . . . taxes . . . etc.) and the ascendance of the nation’s first black present. Undeniably, it was an historic election. I’ll give him that.
Lynch proceeds to admit that he’s not “blind, deaf or dumb,” and that indeed he understands that president isn’t perfect. Despite his “flub ups,” Lynch is still absolutely positive that Obama will “remembered in the annals of history as a revered revolutionary.”
I won’t disagree with the “revolutionary” bit. Indeed, Barack Obama has expressed a desire to fundamentally transform the United States.
In the Christmas spirit of a better-known list of 12, we’ll explore this commentary in 12 segments. Sadly, there will be no French hens, Lords a Leaping or Maids a milking . . . and certainly no Partridge in a Pear Tree. Those you’ll have to get on your own.
With that in mind – here we go!
1) “He is for The People. Say what you will about Barack Obama, but unlike the many presidents who preceded him, he cares about what is best for the greater good. He truly does represent The People. His actions have always been motivated by a sincere desire to do what is best for the majority, even if it meant losing ground with the wealthy, influential or powerful minority.” -Matthew Lynch
Barack Obama is for the people. To wit:
“You can ride with us [referring to the GOP] if you want, but you’ve gotta sit in the back seat. We’re gonna put Middle Class America in the front seat.”- Barack Obama
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” –Barack Obama
There’s nothing wrong with a leader wanting the best for the less fortunate, or the underprivileged. There’s also nothing wrong with a president holding a preference for his party. After all, they are ideologically aligned. These facts, however, does not give on carte blanche to demonize, suppress and silence the rest.
The author himself admits that in being for The People . . . Barack Obama must inevitably leave some of the people (no caps) in the dust. (see final sentence in the author’s point, underlined) To be for “The People,” one must represent all people. In subdividing the country into classes and races, the President has chosen himself to serve as only some Americans’ president . . . a sad choice and a lost opportunity for true leadership.
Under Barack Obama’s leadership, our nation is more polarized than it has been in generations. He’s pitted American against American . . . minority against non-minority . . . and chiefly, rich against poor.
Rather than congratulate our society’s hardest working, most successful citizens, Barack Obama has chosen to make them the scapegoat on which to heap the blame for the ills of the nation. Is it not the end goal of the impoverished and the down-trodden to reach such levels of success? Say one of the poor he’s “defending” is able to skyrocket into success and suddenly becomes one of the hated rich. What then? It seems we can help the poor without demonizing the success to which they (and many others) aspire. A good president certainly could.
Sneak Preview of Day 2: Barack Obama, Civil Rights, and Justice for All