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    The Hope of Obama

    This is a column that I wrote in 2009 shortly after Obama’s election.  With a new election cycle coming . . . I thought appropriate.

    To set the record straight, I’m not really an Obama supporter. I consider myself a moderate Republican, and thus found myself “supporting” McCain, although I wasn’t too fond of him either. Now that the election is over however, Obama is now as much “my” President as anyone elses, and thus the POTUS has my support. I love America, and I love the office of the President, and therein lies the hope of Obama.

    The last 16 years of American Presidency has been some of the most conflicted we’ve ever had in history in terms of Presidential admiration and likability. Not since Ronald Reagan 20 years ago has there been a generally universal love for a President . . . and that saddens me. I’ve often lamented as to why we cannot attract the “best and brightest” of America to be President. I expect my President to be a leader in three specific areas; economically, militarily, and morally . . . and I frankly wouldn’t mind if they look “Presidential” as well. Obviously the specifics often comes from his staff and appointments, but Presidents should have a grasp of the macro and lead in the macro, while appointing other great leaders to figure out and implement the micro’s.

    Bill Clinton had tremendous potential; obviously very smart (Rhodes Scholar), had a Hollywood script worthy “rags to riches” upbringing, a “Presidential” look and charisma . . . but ultimately morally bankrupt. Is it too much to expect our Presidents to be a leader morally as much as economically or militarily, etc? I hope not, in fact, I insist that our Presidents be worthy of such. Unfortunately Bill Clinton fell well short of the moral leadership I expect from our Presidents. If he would’ve been worthy of and capable of moral leadership, it’s very likely that Clinton would’ve been revered as one of our most capable and greatest Presidents. Whether you give him credit for the economic prosperity of the ’90′s or not, he oversaw one of the greatest boom times this country has ever seen. You can also debate that his economic and foreign policies of the time are now being reaped as failures today, but all of that is perhaps revisionist history. Unfortunately, his ultimate legacy will be one that resulted in a substantial deterioration of the dignity and honor of the Office of the Presidency.

    Ironically, #43, George W. Bush had just the opposite problem. Regardless of the mistakes of his youth, I found with Bush and his wife Laura a reassuring return to basic morality. A morality that says it’s not OK to have extramarital affairs, that it is OK for the First Lady to celebrate home and hearth. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that Bush falls within the “best and brightest” part of American politics. He is likely a result more of our failing political process and family connections, then a result of his own merits. He very may have governed Texas adequately, but that was hardly a titanic task in the boom time ’90′s. His meager accomplishments as an oil man and baseball owner does not bode well for life after Presidency in the executive world. I’m sure Bush is at least of average intelligence, but shouldn’t the bar be much higher for the title of “Most Powerful Person in the World”. Putting politics aside, I felt him to be a mostly capable and humble manager. He demonstrated a willingness to bring in very bright and capable leaders to oversee the different aspects of Presidential appointments. Where Bush lost the masses is his lack of charisma, a less than polished communication style, and he just didn’t seem very “Presidential”. While he showed great leadership immediately following 9/11, I don’t think he ever invoked much confidence with the general public that he had a great mental grasp on the whole of the issues facing America. Further, his “Bush Doctrine” philosophy, which arguably implemented and made correct decisions, alienated everyone from the American public to world leaders. I’m actually convinced that most of Bush’s decisions were right for America, especially Iraqi policy and his championed tax cuts, but part of leadership is the ability to get support and buy-in from his constituents. It’ll be interesting to see what ultimately his legacy is in 5, 10, and 50 years, but as of now, his legacy is that of arrogance, incompetence, and a further deterioration of the Office of the Presidency.

    In Barack Obama, we have someone that is perhaps among our “best and brightest” . . . regardless of your political leanings. I’m troubled by his position on abortion, I’m also troubled by his relative inexperience, but what we do have is someone that appears to have tremendous capability and potential. Whether its a good idea to bestow the Presidency on someone with potential as their greatest strength is at this point, a moot point, but therein lies my hope in Obama. He is obviously very charismatic, speaks well, and is starting out with a tremendous amount of good will both domestically and overseas. I hope that Obama is able to restore feelings of good will toward Americans once again with European, Asian, and South American countries. What I find ironic is that my hope for Obama is much different than those that elected him. I think many expect Obama to fix all our foreign affairs issues (umm, is Hillary Clinton really the one we want spearheading that??); to provide cheap, available, but still maintaining  world-class health care to the masses (is that even possible?); to fix our economic crisis, pay off our national debt, restore everyone’s lost retirement values, and make sure that we have 2 cars in every 5200 square foot house driveway (c’mon, ridiculous); all while singlehandidly reversing global warming, lowering gas prices to sub $1.00, and implementing a College football playoff system to boot.

    I don’t believe Obama, or anyone frankly, capable of solving the Middle-east issues . . . that’s been going on for too many centuries. I don’t expect extreme Muslim factions to suddenly love America and what we stand for . . . they have their own agenda. I don’t expect Obama to have all the answers in providing health care to the masses . . . in fact I don’t want him to. What I do hope for Obama is that he is a good man. That he will make decisions that will be for the betterment of his family, the country, and himself. I’m heartened that lawyers be damned, he’s keeping his Blackberry in order to be aware of the world outside of his “bubble”; a failing I think of Bush. I’m impressed with the relationship that he appears to have with his wife, a partnership, but not one that oozes of political or professional quid pro quo; contrasted with the Bill & Hillary Clinton marriage. I’m intrigued by his adoption of Lincoln’s “team of rivals” philosophy, one that can hopefully integrate honorably instead of political paybacks. In short, Obama seems to have the moral compass, the intelligence, and the common sense that bodes well for a tremendous Presidency. My hope in Obama is that he restores pride in America, that he apologizes on our behalf when we’re being “ugly Americans” but stands firm and resolute and allows America to lead the world when necessary. My hope in Obama is that he restores dignity to the Office of the Presidency, that he makes it a worthy and noble place to be once again. Is Obama up to the challenge? I hope his response is . . . YES WE CAN!

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