Sia☺giah
In praise of Obama
Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:15pm
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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/15/opinion/with-obama-the-personal-is-presidential.html?smid=fb-nytopinion&smtyp=cur

The Opinion Pages | Contributing Op-Ed Writer

With Obama, the Personal Is Presidential

Timothy Egan JULY 15, 2016

We always knew he could keep his head when others were losing theirs and blaming him, knew it from the 2008 financial crisis and on to the hard, lasting words he spoke at Tuesday’s memorial for the slain police officers in Dallas.

What we didn’t know, what could not be predicted of one so young and new to the impossible task of living round-the-clock under the glare of the entire world, was how Barack Obama would hold up as a father, a husband, a man.

No matter what you think of Obama the executive branch, it’s hard to argue that Obama the human being has been anything less than a model of class and dignity. If, as was often said about black pioneers in sports, you had to be twice as good to succeed, Obama’s personal behavior has set a standard few presidents have ever reached.

You see him singing happy birthday to his daughter Malia, on the day she turned 18 this past Fourth of July, or coaching his daughter Sasha at hoops, and you see his ambition, still, to be “the father I never had.”

You see him teasing, bantering or dancing with his wife of nearly a quarter-century. And while no outsider can know what goes on inside another’s marriage, you can’t help feeling some of the joy of that union. They still finish each other’s sentences.

It’s not fair to give him his due as a person, his high grade for character, for being scandal-free in his private life, just because a potential successor has no character, no class, and breaches a new wall of civility every time he opens his mouth. If Obama had bragged about infidelities and the size of his genitals, if Obama had talked about wanting to date his own daughter and reduced women to a number on a hotness scale, it would be about race. But when Donald Trump says such things, nobody ties it to his being white, nor should they. Trump is a singular kind of vulgarian.

And those who praise Obama as a model father or husband for the black family do him a disservice. He’s a model, without asterisk for race. It’s a hard thing to go nearly eight years as the most powerful man in the world without diminishing the office or alienating your family. He’s done that, and added a dash of style and humor and a pitch-perfect sense for being consoler in chief.

As we saw again this week, when he took the deep breath for us, when he begged us not to let hearts turn to stone when the world is a quarry of hate, he is at his best when the rest of us are at our worst. We will long remember him singing “Amazing Grace” at that service for people slaughtered in a Charleston church, their deaths a hate crime. And we may well remember him trying to wring something teachable from the ambush of police officers; their deaths also a hate crime.

“All of us, we make mistakes,” he said. “And at times we are lost. And as we get older, we learn we don’t always have control of things — not even a president does. But we do have control over how we respond to the world. We do have control over how we treat one another.”

Historical comparisons will be kind to him. You respect John F. Kennedy for his flair and wit, but wince at how he hurt his wife through numerous affairs. You admire Lyndon B. Johnson for his courage in civil rights, but are appalled at how bathroom-level bawdy he was in private. You appreciate Ronald Reagan for his charm and friendships across the aisle, but can’t ignore how dysfunctional his family was. Under Richard Nixon, the White House was a crime scene. Under Bill Clinton, it was a place of monumental self-indulgence.

What’s remarkable is that Obama hasn’t turned Nixonian or hard. He was the only president to have his Americanism challenged, the only president to be heckled with “You lie!” before a joint session of Congress. And the smears keep coming. Barely a week ago, Fox News flashed pictures of a young Obama attending his African half brother’s wedding in Muslim garb — proof, Bill O’Reilly said, of the president’s “deep emotional ties to Islam.”

For Obama, holding it together as a person has only occasionally translated to political triumph. The first African-American president is leaving office at a moment when more than two-thirds of Americans think race relations are bad — a sharp increase from the dawn of his presidency. He acknowledged some of this failure in Dallas.

“Now, I’m not naďve,” he said. “I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been.”

On eleven occasions — Newtown, Tucson, Charleston, Dallas, among the venues of despair — he’s tried to summon words to heal a wound. If the words have sometimes failed him and us, the man, in his personal behavior, has not.

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Sia: Obama is just a decent person who has a boatload of class... Sure, as a YOUNG man, he was a typical college student... But, as an adult, there's simply nothing to criticize him for as a human being and a role model... There have been NO scandals involving him that haven't been resoundingly debunked...

    • When he said the P word,Pikes, Wed Oct 12 11:14pm
      He was reading, quoting from a book. The author wrote the P word. Here it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKYmiWiNqOw Obama has been everything Clinton and Trump aren't, and yet to listen to... more
      • so already knew that he was reading from a book... Thanks for sharing the link as I'll show it to those who claim that Obama is 'just like Trump' next time... What I'd meant by the typical college... more
        • Those of us who "grew up" with TrumpPikes, Thu Oct 13 12:42am
          remember what a slime bag he always was. Always involved in some scandal involving some woman, or women, along with his shady megadeals. We knew from the start he isn't presidential material. Spots... more