As I pulled up to a traffic light in my left-leaning neighborhood yesterday, an old man in the car next to me gestured for me to open my window. Then, referring to my bumper sticker, he said, “Are you still happy with Obama?” I smiled at him and replied that I was. “Well you’ve got to be some kind of a nut! You must be out of your mind, lady!”
I pressed the button to raise my window, and, not one for timely rejoinders, I sputtered, “Well you have bad manners!” as the window rose. The old codger continued to yell and gesticulate and rage at me until the longest traffic light in the world changed.
I am happy with President Obama. I didn’t know I’d have to joust with an apoplectic stranger in traffic to prove it, but I guess it’s the least I can do.
We forget how far we’ve come in such a short time. Obama brought dignity and intellect back to the White House and he uses them every day to do his best for us. I certainly haven’t agreed with every decision he’s made, but very few Americans could do a better job. Most Obama supporters would have settled for anyone who isn’t embarrassing and who wasn’t going to bring Sarah Palin along, but we got so much more.
By the time Obama took office, our country was in a major meltdown. Economic apocalypse, housing-value plunge, financial-industry collapse, two awful wars, hemorrhaging jobs, on and on. You know.
Obama arrived on the scene calmly, refused to dwell on the past or point fingers, routinely invited former opponents to join his team, and began resuscitating our country. Like annoying gnats, idiots buzz the president, questioning his citizenship and religion, questioning his right to be our president, but Obama serenely keeps working, struggling through brutal problems, always taking the high ground.
He signed seven major bills into law in his first 100 days (to George W. Bush’s zero). He presided over the biggest-ever expansion of student loans, significantly cut wasteful government spending, created jobs through the stimulus program, expanded state insurance help for parents, and signed a bill allocating 2 million more acres of wilderness, the largest conservation action by any president in the past 15 years.
On health care reform, he didn’t get where a lot of us wanted him to go, but he has already accomplished more than the past several presidents.
Young people can now stay on their parents’ health insurance policies another five years, seniors are finally getting rebates on prescription drug purchases, small businesses got a big tax credit on their health care expenditures, and we’re creating a desperately needed universal electronic medical records system.
My personal favorites are his work to bring honor back to our international reputation, his awesome speech to America’s schoolkids, working toward the closing of Gitmo, nominations of justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his rejection of military torture, and his statement that an Islamic center has every right to locate itself in lower Manhattan or anywhere else in America.
Oh, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize— and had the good sense to protest that he didn’t deserve it.
His work on government transparency is a great example of how he holds himself and his administration to high ethical standards.
The nonpartisan League of Women Voters credited Obama with, “... the strongest and most comprehensive lobbying, ethics and transparency rules and policies ever established by an administration to govern its own activities.”
Maybe when Obama gets a minute he can do some work on courtesy standards for drivers.
Barb Guy is a regular contributor to these pages.