Obama 4 Years Later

Four years ago I was excited by presidential candidate Barack Obama.

He was a stirring speaker. He was smart and had a clear intellectual bent. His views appealed to my political philosophy. He was a tough and tenacious campaigner. Above all, he was black.

The simple notion that a member of the race, that had been slaves in this country, could become it’s leader was reason to celebrate. I even read his book, for God’s sake!

But now Obama is a one-term incumbent running for reelection, and the idea that he was a politician that could transcend politics and bring us all together turns out to be as naive as I suspected it was. Today, Barack Obama is in a hard reelection campaign. He’s facing a challenger a lot like he was four years ago, in a situation not unlike the one that brought down the Republican Party of George W. Bush.

The “situation” is an economy that the ruling party doesn’t want to claim. We may be having a recovery (repeat, maybe) but it’s lame. The challenger is Mitt Romney, who knows how to fuzz his views to grab the political middle. He is also smart and tough and has a record of accomplishment that causes people to think it wouldn’t be a disaster if he won.

Another thing he has in common with Obama is he’s a member of minority (the Mormons) that people of the past might have considered unelectable. But now that we’ve elected an African-American to the top job, why not a Mormon?

The reason I thought Obama could unite people lay in his history. Here was a man whose father was African, but he grew up in the USA. Here’s was a man who was black, but whose family was white. (Read Dreams From My Father and you’ll know what I mean). He knew what it took to live between cultures and make it work.

This is why his inauguration included not only civil rights figures but also an evangelical preacher who delivered the invocation. Obama was a liberal but his ties to the black community meant he was comfortable with their social conservatism.

That changed this year when he changed his mind on gay marriage from con to pro. It was a calculated move. He knew the black vote wouldn’t abandon him on that single issue. Meanwhile, he was looking at all that campaign money in West LA that he wasn’t going to get unless he had a change of heart.

This was similar to Romney changing his mind on abortion (to the “anti” side) in order to win the GOP nomination. Like I said… they have a few things in common.

So today — 4 years later — Barack Obama has lost the freshness and novelty, and he’s become another liberal Democrat towing the party line. But there are some facts in his favor.

Obama has achieved financial system reform and health care reform. In foreign affairs, his restraint in the Middle East has saved us billions and it’s allowed the Arab street to take the leadership role in Libya and Egypt. He ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, bringing Americans the justice they craved. Afghanistan? Well, never mind.

Elections are unpredictable. Obama, so far, has the financial support of most campaign donations from the military. That’s not what you’d expect, and there will surely be more surprises to come.

Even so, I would be VERY surprised if Obama wins Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina, like he did last time around. This election will be close, and our first black president could be a one-term president. That has happened to plenty of past presidents, both good and bad.

By the way, if you’re wondering what this year’s election might be like, take a look at this article from NPR.org. I’ll give you the short story: Certain experts say it’ll be an incumbent vs. challenger race similar to either FDR vs. Alf Landon in 1936, Carter vs. Reagan in 1980, or Kerry vs. G.W. Bush in 2004. Take your pick.

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