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The Undoing of Barack Obama

| July 15, 2013

President Obama is looking either at the remains a school after it was demolished by a tornado in Moore, Okla., or at the remains of his presidency. (White House)

President Obama is looking either at the remains a school after it was demolished by a tornado in Moore, Okla., or at the remains of his presidency. (White House)

By Donald Kaul

Virtually every president gets on a roll at some time during his administration, generally early on. And while he’s on that roll, every day is a wedding. He gets bills passed, international relations go his way, and people love him. It seems he can’t make a bad move.

Donald Kaul

It happened to Lyndon B. Johnson, whose early years gave promise of giving us the greatest presidency of modern times. And it happened to Richard Nixon, who, much to the consternation of his enemies, seemed to get stronger as his years in office mounted up.

Eventually, the roll ends. Whether it’s Watergate, Monica Lewinsky, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Vietnam War turning sour, or the Iranian hostage crisis — every administration hits rough waters.

The president goes into a slide and things are never the same again. Suddenly, he can’t do anything right. Every day brings a new headline that lands like a punch to the stomach.

President Barack Obama is not on a roll.

His good times may not have been spectacular, but he did win re-election by a wide margin and things were looking up. That seems a distant memory now.

If he had nothing more than the disastrous Edward Snowden affair to deal with, it would be enough.

other-wordsNot only did the youngish intelligence worker reveal that we are building the capability of spying on every man, woman, and child in the nation, the documents he released showed we are also spying on our best friends and allies.

Doesn’t everybody do that, you ask? Perhaps, but to have it revealed to the global community via a leak from our most secretive government agency takes “embarrassing” to a new level.

And to have Snowden flee to Russia, of all places, allowing Vladimir (The Thug) Putin to withhold granting asylum unless Snowden promised to stop revealing U.S. intelligence secrets…well, that’s an irony almost beyond endurance.

We have, in short, become a laughingstock in the international community. But that’s not all.


The so-called “Arab Spring,” which we welcomed as the healthy introduction of democracy into autocratic Middle Eastern and North African countries, has gone completely off the rails.

The popular uprising in Syria has degenerated into what amounts to a full-scale civil war. We now face the choice of getting involved in it — which we definitely do not want — or looking like a pitiful helpless giant.

Egypt had its own popular uprising against the military strongman (and our ally) Hosni Mubarak, replacing him with an elected Islamic leader.

We weren’t altogether happy about that, but we made approving noises in support of democracy. Within a year, the Islamists had screwed things up so badly that they inspired another popular uprising, followed by a military coup. Naturally, people want Obama to do something about it. They just don’t say what.

If that weren’t enough, the major countries of Europe are threatening to break off important trade negotiations with us because of our spying on everybody.

On the home front, the conservative Supreme Court has just made it easier for states to suppress voting by the poor and people of color. Obstructionist House Republicans are treating the immigration bill, on which Obama has spent so much of his political capital, as their favorite hostage.

I have an old and dear friend, a woman only slightly to the left of Lenin, who recently wrote, “Obama is the worst president we’ve ever had.”

I also have a rabid conservative friend. He thinks Dick Cheney is the greatest vice-president we’ve ever had, and he agrees with her.

And, don’t forget, it won’t be long before Obama has to convince Congress that it should raise the debt ceiling so the nation can pay for the things it’s bought recently. Good luck to him with that.

No, Obama is definitely not on a roll.

Donald Kaul worked some 30 years as a syndicated Washington columnist for the Des Moines Register before retiring at the dawn of the new century. He is a columnist for Other Words. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Reach him by email.

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17 Responses for “The Undoing of Barack Obama”

  1. Florida Native says:

    Thank you Mr. Kaul. Barrack Obama is on the ropes. Hopefully the damage he did to this fine country can be repaired and we can go forward. He’s been the worst President in US history and never had a clue as to how to run the most powerful country in the world. Good riddance Barrack Obama.

  2. MSFB says:

    Never has been and never will be. As a matter of fact, I believe he has done more to revive racism in this country than I have seen in a long time and that’s a real shame. Had he just stuck to what he preached and not turned it all into lies, who knows what good could have come out of his presidency. Unfortunately it will go down in flames.

    • Geezer says:

      Actually, racism was revved up when the likely prospect of a black president first surfaced.
      Racism got a big shot in the arm when some of the intellectual giants in America started
      chanting “socialism,” “death squads,” “Barack Hussein Obama (with emphasis on Hussein),”
      the African witch doctor posters displayed at Tea Party rallies (the one with a bone through Obama’s nose). Remember that?

      The president isn’t doing a good job because CONGRESS blocks every move he makes.

      “Making Obama A One-Term President Is My Single Most Important Political Goal”
      -Sen. Mitch McConnell (aka, Timmy the Turtle)

      You’re entitled to your opinion but not your own facts.

      Cheers.

      • MSFB says:

        Hey Geezer, that is my opinion. Notice that the sentence started out with “I believe”. Besides the president isn’t doing a good job because he’s always on vacation! He’s a community organizer. He’s never run anything. He’s a fraud…

        • Geezer says:

          It’s a pleasure to hear from you, MFSB.
          I surely did notice that you typed “believe” in your original comment.
          See, we agree on something!

          I believe that you believe that too-at least I believe so.

      • Bunnell Resident says:

        Geezer, the facts do speak for themselves and BHO is no doubt the worst President in history. The only person who can possibly be so happy about this is Jimmy Carter because he no longer is considered the worst president. So much for hope and change. This president is a stain upon our nation and the sooner 2016 gets here the better. The 2014 elections will see a republican senate and hopefully the end of Dirty Harry Reid’s dictatorship. If BHO thinks congress is tough on him now, just wait until 2014 elections. BHO’s record: Benghazi lies and coverups… It seems odd the government can spie on every citizen yet no one knows what BHO was doing that night. I think he may have been hiking the Appalachian Trail. IRS scandal, Snowden, Fast and Furious, Eric Holder still in office after perjuring himself to Congress, the list goes on and on.

        • Gezer says:

          You are free to criticize the president, and I’d fight to make sure you always kept that right.
          But saying that he revived racism is wrong. Racism and bigotry were here a long time ago
          and it refuses to leave with its filthy stink from the American psyche.
          It’s an ugly reflection on our nation.

          The people are the ultimate judge of the president’s performance, and you have weighed in.
          It’s good that you voice your opinion. (great, actually)

          I can’t stand Eric Holder by the way.

  3. DLF says:

    The press is awake, if I had son he would be just like Obama, I guess I would place in an adoption program.

  4. m&m says:

    There’s one guy smiling and that’s Jimmy Carter who has always been labeled the worst president we ever had.. He’s now in second place and Obama has taken over first place..

  5. confidential says:

    Our President Barack Obama have done fairly good with the box of rotten eggs he was handed by the prior administration.
    He did not revive racism, the conservatives are doing it, as they can’t accept yet they lost for substantial margin in both last elections and in an historical event we gave our Presidency to a black intelligent, highly educated Harvard lawyer and Democrat Senator! GOP be ready for 2014 and 2016 because probably you will loose again. The obstructive agenda of these extreme Republicans with Mitch McConnell at the head that got egg on their faces when they embarked on their destructive goal of making Obama a one term only Commander in Chief, is what is driving their boycott, No vote for Presidential nominations, new laws proposed or anything the administration wants to do, meanwhile paralyzing the financial recovery of the country. Is just simply one more race issue…no less race than the Zimmerman acquittal.

    As for not getting involved in Syria, Egypt and any of those incendiary conflicts just for the sake of one ally when we can’t even afford it!, I applaud Obama! Enough useless wars he inherited from Bush and I am sorry he didn’t yet bring our soldiers home from the Afghan conflict! As for the spying on us or allies system in place, all seem to forget that was started by Bush with the Homeland Security and now they lay blame in the current administration, that only just didn’t do away with it. As for the Snowden travesty is just much made of a mole mountain… As for race, sure is not Obama that ignites these issues but the embrace of extreme conservatism, like one of many, can be seeing in the link below!

    http//www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/john-henry-spooner-trial_n_3600984.html

    • dlf says:

      It has been over 4 years and you Kool Aid drinkers are still blaming the past for Obama poor performance, did Bush invent Obama Care, did Bush allow the IRS to run wild, did Bush allow the killing of our ambassadors, did Bush run illegal wire taps? The buck stops at the top, oops I forgot he is out traveling again. you elect a community organizer and you get a community organizer.

      • A.S.F. says:

        Actually, the reality of thousands of uninsured citizens and ever-spiraling healthcare costs “invented” the need for Obamacare, the IRS did not suddenly develop problems when Obama took office, Obama did not kill our Ambassador, terrorist elements did and Bush DID plenty of wire-tapping, under the guise of national security, when he was in office. The Bush administration also publically condoned torture as an approved tactic to gather information that was usually wrong and he got us into one of the biggest military debacles in our history–so, no–Those facts shouldn’t be conveniently forgotten because it didn’t happen five minutes ago and doesn’t fit neatly into your agenda…Which is to smear a President who, while certainly not perfect, has managed to steer us off the cliff of financial ruin that YOUR guy placed us at the very edge of. I would elect a community organizer over an amiable but overgrown frat boy with a father complex any day.

  6. Robert says:

    Have these two previous commenters been on a trip to the outer galaxies over the past 5 years?

    The man took over a country that was on the verge of economic collapse and was bringing the rest of the world down with it.
    The auto industry has recovered and is once again peaking.
    He brought to “justice” the man identified as world enemy number one.
    The US is finally but slowly getting out of two wars, one over 10 years old.

    And he did it with a group of people in Congress trying to make sure he fails at every juncture.
    Remember the group whose main purpose was to make sure the President was a one term President. They spent more time being obstructionists than legislatures and they haven’t given up.

    Anyone who can make gains and accomplishments in the face of continued: obstruction, resentment, bitterness, antipathy etc. has to be doing something right.

    And he got reelected, even in the face of all the voting suppression from the “ states rights” groups.

    Eat your hearts out.

    • War of the Words and Worlds says:

      Ask yourself, who is buying these cars that this “peaking” auto industry is selling? Broke ass Americans? A restructured auto industry with a restructured labor force does not a real auto recovery make.

      “He brought to “justice” the man identified as world enemy number one.” WTF? This is so retarded is it does not warrant a response much less an intelligent one! “justice”, “world enemy number one” – rotf but not laughing at all!

      The US is NOT getting out of 2 wars! Drones and mercenaries are replacing the soldiers. And the US has increased its conflicts in the ME, Africa, Asia, and Latin America! Read about US foreign policy, will ya!

      So exactly what did he do that is worthy of bragging? Every politician of the opposition party wants the president to be a ‘one term president’. And sometimes even those in his own party do too.

      “Voter suppression” – people should not be allowed to vote if their vote can be easily bought with a recipe for beer, free cell phones (paid for with the fees and taxes of those who pay for their phone service), and those who are CLUELESS about the real issues! SMH…

  7. McCoy says:

    I have come to the realization that “ALL” politicians don’t give a rats a** about America or its citizens. They only “play the game” in order to secure their future financially and to get all the perks they can achieve while BS-ing the public. I have lost all faith and hope in the political system of the once Great USA !!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    He is a bad president no matter if you look at his white or black half. He has done 0 to help our Republic.

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    Yes, President Obama has seen better days in his Presidency. Least we forget though:

    1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

    2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.

    3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.

    4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.

    5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.

    6. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.

    7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.

    8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.

    9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

    10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi: In March 2011, joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s forty-two-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.

    And that’s just the top 10 of 111 plus!

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