I am surprised at myself today. I find myself reflecting on the 8 years of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. What is surprising is that I am doing it at all and that I have some positive thoughts about their time in the White House.
That I am willing to publish some sort of affirmation of Mr. and Mrs. Obama is unusual in that I have a huge disagreement with a lot of their political views. Normally, these differing beliefs and values would keep me from writing anything. After all, there is a wise proverb our parents gave us which says that if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.
It’s not that I am 100 percent opposed to their politics. I hold at least a nugget of agreement on a lot of things with the Obamas. Some of my disdain for them politically has to do with what I see as the poor implementation of their policies.
But that’s all behind us now. Today on the eve of their departure as leaders of the free world, I would prefer to separate the man and woman from the issues and look at how I feel about them now.
That’s a difficult task, as it is not easy to look at a political leader and compartmentalize them. For example, most people don’t think about Hitler and say,”Well you know, he was a monster and murdered millions, but he was a nice friend to many.”
And puh-lease, I am not comparing my views of Mr. and Mrs. Obama with that of Der Führer! But they have supported some ways of thinking that run contrary to my own and in my view have definitely resulted in harm to many. Let me just say, though, that if I think long and hard about it I can understand why they think the way they do. Resolving such conflict in my mind is complicated.
Like most Americans and others I really don’t know Barack and Michelle. I can only construct my opinion of them by what the media feeds me. When it comes to politics it of course depends on which media outlet I am listening to as to which Mr. and Mrs. O I get fed. For example, CNN mostly gives me adulation while Fox News provides me with a lot of criticism of them.
But what HAS filtered through all the bias is this: I think at root that the Obamas are decent people. They appear to be good parents. In addition, it is to their credit that they have a nuclear family at all in our society today, and what seems to be a loving one. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors as well, but their marriage has an air of solidity about it.
Both Barack and Michelle also carry with them an aspect of their personalities that is important to the American people. They are nice, at least publicly, which is of course all I get to observe of them. We US folks hold niceness dear. We would rather buy from and work with nice people than not, and probably will choose who we do business with based on that quality, not competence.
So I might not have been particularly happy with a lot of the things Mr. and Mrs. Obama said and did during their two terms. But I was never ashamed of the way they carried themselves. For the most part, they did so with class.
Farewell, Mr. President and First Lady. Thank you for your service. My prayers are with you.