As a non-American, and having no emotional or vested interest in the November election in the US, if not that of the general apprehension that most Europeans have seeing the worrisome political and social direction that is going on in the USA, I can look at certain aspects of American politics like the Presidency of Mr. Barak Obama in a dispassionate manner, and it seems obvious to me that no matter how one looks at his Presidency or whether one agrees or not with President Barack Obama, I think any real debate regarding how he has governed should begin with acknowledgement very one simple fact. The Obama Presidency began mired in crises of a magnitude not seen since the 30s. His Administration had to cope with a series of inherited crisis situations that there is no doubt were not created by the Obama Administration.
Anyone who has studied closely American history knows that all US Presidencies since Lincoln are defined by some salient aspect that predominates their tenure. As an example, President Lincoln Presidency was defined by the American Civil War, the end of Slavery for African Americans; the Kennedy Presidency will always be remembered for the Bay of Pigs, his opposition to the Vietnam War, and for his assassination in Dallas. The Johnson Presidency is remembered for the signing of Executive Order 273 that kick-started a larger US intervention in the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hippies and Woodstock, while the Nixon Presidency will always be identified with the Watergate Scandal. Ronald Reagan, the failed actor and in my opinion failed President was instrumental in setting the stage for a revival of the Truman Doctrine, while Clinton's Presidency was defined by a rather colourful mixture of sex and sound economic policy that allowed an economic recovery and whose gains were beneficial to the middle class, in fact his Presidency is sometimes called the "middle class Presidency," or some other variation of that.
However so far, and from whatever the angle one looks at this subject it is not wrong to say that all US Presidents from Lincoln to Clinton, notwithstanding their differences and attitudes to certain military and social issues, had certainly the interest of keeping the US a Democracy. This changed drastically with the Bush Presidency. George Bush identified himself as a "war time President", in his book Executive Decisions a self-compliment that probably many would contest. Defining his Presidency is easy, an undoubted mixture of corruption, ideology, religious fundamentalism, moral bankruptcy and incompetence, all coupled with a staggering hubris and indifference to fact and a total despise for the very foundations that made the USA a most admired and respected Nation: The US Constitution. What's the word for all that? There many but we have a Code of Conduct and Honour on Newsvine so I will state that it was "The Worst and the most damaging Presidency" in the history of the USA.
So how can one define President Obama's Presidency so far? It is undeniable that he took office in a period of constant, serious and historic crises, none of which were his own creation. First, there is an economic legacy of the Bush Administration that created the deepest economic crisis in eighty years with a recession which almost became a depression. A recession which to the many Americans who have lost their jobs is a depression as the US has no real social welfare to speak of, where health is a privilege of the rich, and where if you do not have money you are a non-entity.
Such a crisis alone should typically be more than sufficient to define a Presidency facing an abnormally large or historic crisis. Strictly and by gravity of the historic nature of the economic downturn, the Obama Presidency and its management of the economy (for better or worse) has been the best that could have been done with the cards in their possession.
Comparing President Bill Clinton in terms of defining issues, did he face anything more than a manageable recession? He did not! And I give President Clinton enormous credit nonetheless but the overriding theme of his Presidency was ending a recession and spurring unprecedented economic growth. The other issue with poor Monica really rose to the level of crisis only in the mind of the anal retentive and the failed impeachment counts as an episode of great amusement and of ridicule for the idiots who pushed it to that level.
Overall it can said in favour of President Obama that the economic crises wasn’t the only crises he inherited the other was and is the repercussions of two stagnated and failed military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sure it can be said that President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Nixon faced Vietnam, and although Vietnam entailed a far greater loss of life, I'm not sure it depleted more resources in terms of costs than the current wars. So not only the Obama Presidency starts with two failed wars, but with a military industrial complex so symbiotically immersed within the military procurement apparatus that is now almost impossible to dislodge.
President Obama when he was elected was expected “to literally walk on water* and solve these two enormous crisis almost by the use of a magic wand like Harry Potter. Again, these are not crisis he created but that he inherited.
However by far the greatest crisis facing President Obama is the ideological and political crisis as there is an enormous movement in the US that does not believe in democracy, and if our Newsvine is anything to go by as an American social barometer, and where we read endless debates about doubts on his nationality, his origins, and the sheer hate of some of the commentators have for this man, a hate which totally blinds them to any rationale argument because they do not believe in the democratic institutions of government.
This ideological and political crisis is by far the more serious one faced by President Obama and his administration because it is has grown into a formidable movement, a movement that may well gain the upper hand, because it is supported and manipulated by some very serious players in the military, medical and banking industrial complexes and is endowed with almost unlimited financial resources that can easily withstand the massive cost of a political campaign and an immense and a costly propaganda machine. The lack of a clear and defining Federal Authority on State legislatures and political institutions as allowed the disenfranchising voters at dizzying rates.
In my opinion it is the greatest threat to Democracy in the US since the Civil War. It is clear that almost half the Country simply does not believe in the Democratic process or in a democratic government, and I don't think this is an exaggeration either. All the BS, on the false birth certificates, the propaganda, the Tea Party Republicans, Christian fundamentalisms, the destruction of the education system, the aversion to science, the anti-intellectualism, the attacks on the principle of separation of church and state, have become real elements of the US political scene and it is undermining everything that the governing principles of the US Constitution were based upon. It is also the root cause of the other crises. If history teaches anything it is that the intelligent minds behind totalitarianism will defeat democracy by piggy backing on the shoulders of the ignorant, the religious zealot, and the illiterate by using democracy against itself.
So it can’t be easy each day for President Obama going to work, for this is what he faces. Three crises in one that taken on their own, each would surpass, the typical types of crises faced in normal Presidencies, in such a situation any quick solution to the real problems of the US that I would define as the health care that should be available to all, and the deficit, which is related to the tax rates most Americans pay except those that really should, and the growing poverty, cannot be tackled easily in such a political reality.
My point is, love him or hate him, okay! But let's at least acknowledge the truth of his circumstances. Because any view or criticism of his Presidency must start with a certain intellectual honesty to the obvious fact of the uphill steep political slope he inherited and that he has had to climb since he became President. Any discussion to judge the defining issue of President Obama’s Presidency, bet it for one term or two should start with this premise because it is the defining issue of his Presidency.
There's no other valid one. Because only the ignorant, the religious zealot, the illiterate can buy into a propaganda machine that actually puts more emphasis on President Obama’s vacation habits, or his birth certificate, his colour, his religion so as to distract Americans from the real issues facing the US today.