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I worked to defeat Obama. I’d gladly take him back

The Washington Post
Monday, July 23, 2018

How I miss Barack Obama.

And I say that as someone who worked to defeat him: I was a foreign policy adviser to John McCain in 2008 and to Mitt Romney in 2012. I criticized Obama’s “lead from behind” foreign policy that resulted in a premature pullout from Iraq and a failure to stop the slaughter in Syria. I thought he was too weak on Iran and too tough on Israel. I feared that Obamacare would be too costly. I fumed that he was too professorial and too indecisive. I was left cold by his arrogance and his cult of personality.

Now I would take Obama back in a nanosecond. His presidency appears to be a lost golden age when reason and morality reigned. All of his faults, real as they were, fade into insignificance compared with the crippling defects of his successor. And his strengths — seriousness, dignity, intellect, probity, dedication to ideals larger than self — shine all the more clearly in retrospect.

Those thoughts are prompted by watching Obama’s speech in South Africa on the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. I was moved nearly to tears by his eloquent defense of a liberal world order that President Donald Trump appears bent on destroying.

Commentary: Obama’s lecture reminds Americans how a U.S. president should speak, act »

The first thing that struck me was what was missing: There was no self-praise and no name-calling. Obama has a far better claim than Trump to being a “very stable genius,” but he didn’t call himself one. The sentences were complete and sonorous — and probably written by the speaker himself. (Imagine Trump writing anything longer than a tweet — and even those are full of mistakes.) The tone was sober and high-minded, even if listeners could read between the lines a withering critique of Trump’s policies.

Obama denounced the “politics of fear and resentment,” the spread of “hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories,” and “immigration policies based on race, or ethnicity or religion.” Gee, wonder who he had in mind? He rightly noted that “we now stand at a crossroads — a moment in time at which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and minds of citizens around the world.” He then rejected the dark vision propagated by Trump and the dictators he so admires.

“I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision,” Obama said. “I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King and Abraham Lincoln. I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multiracial democracy, built on the premise that all people are created equal, and they’re endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuit of a common good.” Even though I was thousands of miles away, I felt like cheering those stirring words.

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Where Former President Obama Ranks Among All Presidents

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Former President Barack Obama appears in C-Span’s Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership for the first time, and he has placed just outside of the top 10 in the overall ranking. On Friday, the television network released the results of its survey of 91 historians, its third following versions in 2000 and 2009.

Members of the advisory team for the survey had varied reactions to Obama’s placement. “That Obama came in at number 12 his first time out is quite impressive,” Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University, said in a statement. Edna Greene Medford, a history professor at Howard University, had a different take: “Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey.”

The top slots in the overall rankings are unchanged since the 2009 survey: Abraham Lincoln at No. 1 (he also earned the top rank in 2000), George Washington at No. 2, Franklin D. Roosevelt at No. 3 and Theodore Roosevelt at No. 4. Others in the top 10 are Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson.

At No. 12, Obama falls in between Woodrow Wilson and James Monroe. As for recent presidents, Bill Clinton continued to occupy the No. 15 slot, and George W. Bush improved three spots, to No. 33. That president “has benefited somewhat from the passing of the years,” C-Span said in a statement.

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The World Can’t Afford President Obama’s Silence Anymore

Dave R. Jacobson Huffington Post Democratic Strategist, Campaign Consultant and Political Analyst based in Los Angeles, California.  01/28/2017 09:08 pm ET

Co-Authored by Maclen Zilber, Democratic Strategist and Campaign Consultant based in Hollywood, CA

Under the less than ten day old Trump presidency, it seems that every day there’s a new war.

A war against the facts. A war against the president of Mexico. A war against the media. A war against the environment. A war against NATO. A war against muslims. A war against our election system. A war against Hollywood celebrities. A war against women’s rights. A war against China. A war against presidential etiquette. A war against refugees.

Barack Obama’s presidency is just a few days into the rear view mirror, and already questions are being raised about whether or not these wars that Trump has incited, will ever end.

The sitting president’s continued flame-throwing and open hostility towards the world, both domestically and internationally, is increasingly raising tensions inside the United States and abroad, while sowing the seeds of conflict, chaos and instability across the planet.

Trump’s actions are even raising questions about whether his dangerous and divisive moves are putting Americans, and all of Earth’s human inhabitants, on a collision course destined for global war.

We sincerely hope not, as this question is downright scary to imagine or even to conceptualize.

At the heart of what makes the Trump presidency so dangerous is his overt willingness to look the American people in the eye— and flat out lie to them.

Trump first did it through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, regarding the crowd size of his inauguration. Then he did it himself the following day at CIA headquarters, conveying the same falsehood as Spicer. At the same event, Trump misrepresented the facts about his relationship with the intelligence community, saying the media created the illusion that he had a poor relationship with the apparatus, when just days before his inauguration it was Trump who callously compared it to “Nazi Germany.”

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