What I Will Miss About Barack Obama

As the Obama administration limps through its last months, its impending demise is mourned by few. One of those few is the perennially clueless David Brooks, apparently the New York Times’s idea of a conservative. Brooks is infamous for falling in love with the crease in Barack Obama’s pants. Seven years later, he has found more to like about our failed president: I Miss Barack Obama.

Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply.

The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free.

I hope you weren’t drinking anything when you read that. Anyone who has a nodding acquaintance with the news can tick off a list of Obama scandals, from Fast and Furious through the Veterans Administration and the IRS targeting of conservative groups, to Benghazi and the EPA employee who bilked taxpayers by pretending to be a spy, to crashing hard drives at both the EPA and the IRS, from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who evaded the law by doing business off the books via an email account in the name of her dog, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who conducted business off the books through an email server in her basement, the contents of which were in all likelihood monitored by our enemies.

Far from being scandal-free, the Obama administration has been beset with scandals of all kinds. If scandals have failed to seriously dent the administration, it is because, to an unprecedented degree, the Obama administration has scoffed at the law and the judicial process by stonewalling. That this strategy has largely been successful hardly makes it admirable.

Second, a sense of basic humanity. … He’s exuded this basic care and respect for the dignity of others time and time again.

But then…why has Obama been the most divisive president in our country’s history? He has abandoned any pretense of being the president of all Americans. Instead, he has consistently demonized Republicans and other political opponents. He has maligned their motives, lied about their actions, and wherever possible blocked them from any participation in the legislative process. He has deliberately fomented race hatred because he saw it as advantageous to his political party.

Third, a soundness in his decision-making process.

Brooks’s prime example of this “soundness” is Obamacare. Brooks praises Obamacare because it “took coverage away from only a small minority of Americans.” How sound can you get?

As for process, Obamacare is a Frankenstein’s monster that was written behind closed doors by lobbyists and Democratic Party staffers and passed without any Republican input or any Republican votes. No one knew exactly what was in the bill; as Nancy Pelosi famously said, we had to enact it in order to get the bad news. And Obamacare squeaked through the Senate only through the fiction that it was a reconciliation bill. This is Brooks’s idea of a “sound decision-making process”?

Fourth, grace under pressure.

I think Brooks misspelled “petulance.” Weirdly, he goes on to write, “Too often he’s been disdainful, aloof, resentful and insular.” Well, yeah. Especially when he’s under pressure. But I guess grace is in the eye of the beholder, like a perfect pants crease.

Brooks, of course, never mentions Obama’s lawlessness, in my opinion his most damaging trait, or his incompetent foreign policy (incompetent if you assume he is trying to advance American interests), or $19 trillion in debt, or the chronic dishonesty that has caused even his supporters to stop taking him seriously, or the devotion to cronyism that has contributed to the worst economic recovery of the postwar era.

What will I miss about Barack Obama? Not a single damn thing.


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