Five things we’ve learnt from…Obama’s first term


1. Still a cool cat, but no longer purr-fect

I’ll apologise for that pun straight away. It’s bad, I know, let’s move on.

There was a time when Barack could put no foot wrong. He exuded a cool, calm firmness that was a great gust of fresh air after the perpetual mishaps of the bumbling Bush. From plunging in a 3-pointer to swatting a fly like a ninja, he and his PR team crafted the most clinical of charismatic personas in order to win over a  public that was cloying for a leader to be proud of. At first it seemed anything was possible with Obama at the helm. But alas, once in office, the demi-god-like omnipotence lasted no longer than the time it took George W. Bush to read ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’… (that’s right, about three months or so).

He is still very much the coolest man to run a country, probably ever, but he now seems as fallible as any other world-leader (except maybe Berlusconi; he was just always wrong on so many levels). Whether or not this adds to or detracts from his charm, and his chances in the 2012 election, is for America (and history) to decide. Until a few months into his first term, Obama was like that rarest of beasts: a Boss, but one who you’d happily go for a beer with. Now however, don’t get me wrong, I’d still have a Snakebite with him at the Stag’s but I’d worry that he’d order one and then backtrack and order a Foster’s. And it’s hard to trust anyone who drinks Foster’s out of choice. It’s a shame really, he used to be so ‘cool and refreshing’: a Coor’s man if ever I saw one.

2. The G.O.P. is G.R.U.M.P.Y

Some, if not a lot of the reasons for Obama’s perceived weakness however, is due to a co-ordinated ‘stall and smear’ campaign carried out by the Republicans. They will not let anything Obama says pass without a moan or grumble. Those in the seats of power have shown their resistance to the ‘Obamafication’ of America by shooting down as many of his big-name bills as possible. Meanwhile at Fox News…

Whilst it’s easy for us smug Brits across the pond to take anything ever said on Fox News with a pinch, nay a bucket-full of salt, for some bizarre reason the network has cultivated an enormous following of Obama-hating citizens (a less cultured man would say hillbillies or hicks). As such it has a captive audience all too receptive to the vitriolic bile, half-truths and outright lies spouted by such bastions of moral purity as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Tune in to hear Obama’s nationality questioned, his policies lampooned as ‘un-American’ and his supporters branded as ‘Commie Lefties’. Or don’t. In fact, instead, go down to Homebase, buy yourself an electric drill and proceed to slowly drill holes into each of your ear-drums and eyeballs*. It will have much the same effect as Fox.

*This is a joke, albeit a poor one. This writer, and the Wessex Scene, in no way condone or support the drilling of holes into yourself; neither do we condone or support the watching of Fox News.

“Why did you make me watch Fox News Mummy?!”

3. The race isn’t won yet

‘Obama sounds like Osama’. Yes; yes it does. Well done. But just because his name sounds like that of the now deceased, FBI most wanted list-topping Islamic extremist, does not in fact make him an Islamic extremist himself. I know that might be hard to grasp, but not all things that sound the same, are the same. Letters are very different to lettuce. You would be somewhat confused and unnerved to receive a lettuce in the post. My point here (there is one, I’m getting there) is that apart from being downright ignorant, some of the abuse suffered by Obama since his election possesses undertones more suited to 1912, not 2012.

Parts of America are still enormously racist and xenophobic. As well as revulsion toward Islam (and the baffling accusations that Obama is a Muslim), the old-fashioned, KKK-style racism is still abundant as well. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to depicting Obama as a chimpanzee, which is obviously overtly racist and offensive in itself but somewhat un-policeable being as they are online. What is perhaps worse is that a G.O.P official caused a justified scandal by sending an email to a colleague with Obama posed in the same way, with the caption “Now you know why — No birth certificate!”. And her response to said scandal? “I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth”. Nice of her to apologise.

Institutionalised racism in America did not end with the election of a black man to the Presidency. Racism is still alive, perhaps less widespread, but alive nonetheless. The race isn’t won yet.

4. Yes we can! Oh no, maybe we can’t.

The optimism, the hope, the relief (at George Bush’s imminent exit) all encapsulated by Obama’s campaign mantra: ‘Yes we can’. I think South Park sums it up best. There was a real belief (amongst Democrats and the majority of the rest of the world at least) that Obama would genuinely bring change. Think back to 2008. The birds were singing, children played gaily in meadows abundant with spring flowers and lambs pranced along merrily to Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’. All was right again in the world upon the election of Obama. But then suddenly ‘boom’?! A big ol’ worldwide recession starts munching away at all this happiness and joy, until we are faced with this pit of despair and gloom and turmoil that is 2012. The world may not end this year, but it might be better if it did.

Wow, sorry got a bit caught up in that maudlin language, I went all Sylvia Plath for a bit there. Anyway, the idealism of 2008 gave way to a depressing realism as the economic downturn set in good and proper. ‘Yes we can’ became ‘maybe…we’ll give it a go’ and then ‘Nah, we’re f**ked’. No matter how hard poor old Obama tried, he couldn’t reinvigorate the dynamism and vitality that he instilled in the nation in the lead up to the election. This lead to a crushing indictment on his performance to that point, when his party lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-terms. The moral being that it is damn hard to be an optimist when the world is telling you to be a pessimist. And even the world’s biggest optimist (Mr. Happy of the Mister Men may dispute this title that I have awarded Obama, but then he is fictional so I’d like to see him write me a letter of complaint) is becoming apathetic. And people don’t re-elect apatheticists. Mainly ’cause they don’t exist. Like Mr. Happy.

Obama ain’t no mug…unlike Mr. Happy

5. Time 2 have Term 2

Despite everything I just said, many, myself included, believe Obama is almost certain of re-election (no I’m not a hypocrite. Oh no wait, yes, yes I am. At leat I recognise it, unlike Bill O’Reilly). This is perhaps due less to the successes of his first term and more to do with the failures and gaffes of the Republican opposition. The entire nomination process has been a comedy of errors, from Herman ‘Herman Cain talks in the third person and may or may not sexually harass women’ Cain to Rick ‘Three government agencies…commerce, education and um…um…um’ Perry. Whilst these candidates (along with Michelle Bachman thank god) dropped out, those still in the race are hardly setting the conservative world alight. Although Mitt Romney appears set to walk away with the nomination, his campaign has been turbulent and rife with disappointment. Despite taking the golden-egg of Super Tuesday- Ohio- the former minister is beginning to appear less Mormon and more moron. Although Santorum is in many ways, worse; Sarah Palin has endorsed him… ’nuff said. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are regarded reasonably well but neither can inspire the grass-roots voters to put down the Big-Mac and pick up the voting card. At best, the GOP is currently in a state of organised chaos, with little more than reactionary policies and the standard right-wing diatribes over abortions, gays and government.

It is Obama’s to lose. America might not like him as much as they used to, but they know the alternative is worse. At least I hope they do. In fairness 61% of them believe in the story of Genesis word for word. I’m not criticising the Bible or Christianity here, just Genesis. Read it, it’s about as believeable as Harry Potter with the writing style of Twilight; yes that’s right…crap. If they believe that, they might believe that the Republicans are a credible force. In which case I despair. So to sum up, Obama will win unless Genesis-believing Americans vote against him in great numbers. In which case he won’t win. But he will win ’cause he is cool and happy. But he won’t win ’cause he’s apathetic and fallible. So yeah. Perhaps. Maybe. Sort of. Hmm…



Discussion6 Comments

  1. avatar

    You were doing really well up until that last little diatribe… not that the diatribe is wrong, per say, just a little bit off topic. Love the writing style on the whole though, a very entertaining read and full of well made points.

  2. avatar

    Steve McCann
    Today, so much power is vested in the office of president that honor and integrity must be hallmarks of a president’s character. Unfortunately, they are not with Barack Obama — he may well be the most dishonest and disingenuous occupant of the Oval Office in history, and he will do more damage to the nation than all his predecessors combined.

    His failings can no longer be excused by this historical deference or timidity fostered by race with the euphemisms of spin, obfuscation, fabrication, or politics being used to avoid the truth. Obama is extremely adept at exploiting the celebrity culture that has overwhelmed this society, as well as the erosion of the education system that has created a generation or more of citizens unaware of their history, culture, and the historical ethical standards based on Judeo-Christian teaching.

  3. avatar
    Jackson Rawlings

    Thanks for all the constructive posts guys…I think something we can all agree on is that my last paragraph is a bit sloppy and off-topic, I’ll make sure I don’t resort to this in the future. Some response then:
    Dave, I agree to some extent that there is little difference between both parties’ ideologies and the candidates themselves, and that politics in the U.S is a heck of alot further right than anything over this side of the pond. Equally I think that the issue of Guantanamo remaining open is most certainly a dark cloud hanging over Obama’s presidency. My view however is that as the article beneath the graph states, Obama is a man of ‘so few fixed principles’. My conclusion from this however is rather different to their’s. In my mind, this indicates a flexibility and willingness to adapt to what appears to be a constantly shifting paradigm in the U.S (fluctuating economy etc), something G.W. Bush was just unable to do. I am not by any means suggesting the other Republican candidates couldn’t manage this, but I would like to see them do it with the calm swagger that Obama does. In all though, I’m not an Obama ‘fanboy’ as such, I just think he’s the best of a bad bunch.
    And Leslie, to be honest, you lost me when you started saying he ‘may well be the most dishonest and disingenous’ president ever. Let’s not forget Nixon whose nickname came into being as a direct result of his lies, Bush snr and his read my lips fiasco and even Clinton and the Lewinski scandal; and these are just the most recent examples I could think of.
    In all, this piece is just an (hopefully) entertaining manifestation of my personal thoughts on his presidency. I’m glad it’s got a few people talking though, so cheers guys.

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