Blaming it on Obama
Herb Boyd | 10/23/2014, 3:40 p.m.
If President Barack Obama hasn’t been catching enough flak, if his things-to-do list isn’t already crowded with pressing issues, the Ebola epidemic has brought another patch of gray hair and more problems to his troubled, beleaguered administration.
Once more, his critics are piling on, in fact, practically blaming him for the outbreak of Ebola or at least for not acting with alacrity. His detractors, principally the GOP, tea party and other right-wing zealots—and even some running-scared Democratic hopefuls, fleeing him as if he has Ebola—blame him for every problem on the planet. Yes, global warming is his fault, and so is your migraine headache from this morning.
The other day, I received a particularly annoying assessment from Raynard Jackson, a Republican political consultant, who after praising Obama’s ability to win the office, disparages him as a leader, especially when it comes to his dissing Black Americans. To Jackson, the president has turned his back on African-Americans, thus failing the test of loyalty. There’s nothing new about this assertion, and considering the source, it comes as no surprise.
Jackson’s basic complaint is that Obama has neglected Blacks, who comprise the bulk of his voting bloc. By this assertion, I presume he means Black Americans are not part of the nation’s population, that Obama’s accomplishments somehow veer clear of the Black community. In Jackson’s universe, apparently, the good things Obama has done are not shared by Black Americans, that is, they are not beneficiaries of the various reforms in the economy, employment, health care and education, to mention just a few areas of change he promised.
But rather than take on Jackson’s critique point by point, let’s take a general look at the Obama agenda, or doctrine, whatever you want to call it. True, he has not been a perfect leader—I am not a fan of his drone operation or his “Big Brother” surveillance of private citizens, and his foreign policy is not something to write home about—but to say he is the worst president since World War II as one poll concluded, is about as wide of the mark as Jackson’s summary.
Let’s start with the economy.
Remember, when Obama entered the White House, the Great Recession was waiting for him in the East Wing. If he had not bailed out the automobile giants, revamped the banking industry (though a few bankers could have been jailed) And put forth nearly a trillion dollar stimulus package, this country would have gone to hell in a hand basket. It’s naive to think that some of these changes were not helpful to Black workers and businessmen and women.
There was vocal opposition when he proposed the Affordable Care Act, and when the rollout did not go as planned, Obama was assailed again, but ask the typical American, including a few of color, and they applaud a health act no other president had been able to do, not even the cherished Bill Clinton.
Solving the education dilemma in this country is a daunting task, and even our top educators, such as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, seem conflicted when taking the measure of the president, praising him for his “forward thinking agenda,” particularly on early childhood education and making college affordable but attacking him and Arne Duncan, his secretary of education, on the administration’s position on charter schools.
The jury is out on this issue, as it is generally on charter schools, but Jackson’s charge that the president has done very little for historically Black colleges and universities is easily refuted if he goes to the website of the Department of Education and sees the HBCU initiative, which may not be all Jackson desires, but is a step in the right direction.
When Jackson cites polls showing that even some Democrats have lost faith in the president’s ability to govern, we have to question the pool of those polled and how the question was put to them. For every unfavorable poll there is a favorable one for Obama. And, for the most part, they are but a momentary barometer and subject to change by the hour or the district.
What Jackson and the naysayers fail to take into consideration is that the president is not an autocrat. We have too many checks and balances to offset that possibility, even if he had such ambitions. To chastise him for the Ebola virus and bemoan the fact we have no surgeon general is to ignore the Congress, which has been an obstacle since Obama stepped into office. And Obama can expect even more impediments if the GOP gains control of the Senate in the midterm elections, which are right around the corner.
As for foreign policy and dealing with terrorism, the president is the commander in chief, but he has to deal with a number of players before any plan of his can take effect. There’s the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, the CIA, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Defense Department, the FBI, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, to say nothing of the “permanent or invisible government.”
Moreover, Jackson should understand that the game is not over. Obama has more than two years to govern. Who’s to say what executive orders may come from him as he exits the White House. Of course, we are not holding our breaths on that, but a few wonderful surprises would be a nice parting shot.
And when these prayed for changes arrive, let’s join hands and blame Obama.