The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses
Joe Cool Dominating
Don’t Look Now – Barack Obama Is Beating Second-Term Jinx
So far, this has been an immutable fact of the American presidency: Second terms are a disaster. Bad. Filled with impeachments and quitting and unconstitutional shenanigans. Queer luck. Doomed circumstance; economically, militarily, personally. The list is long, and in my lifetime (born in September of 1962) it has been a given.
So far this burden has avoided Barack Obama (and by “so far”, of course I mean the president has over a year left in his presidency with plenty of time to have something catastrophic or moronic befall him). The fact is the president has excelled in his second term; victories against congress (TPP, Iran Deal), positive happenstance (gas prices, stock market), and a defiant attitude one gets when one does not have to run for anything anymore, which completely condemned presidents for the past half century.
We know the deal (and I consider LBJ: 1965-1968 his second term, since he was president for over a year prior) all the second terms since the Kennedy assassination have been awful.
To wit: Lyndon Johnson ostensibly quit by announcing he would not seek the nomination of his party to run as a result of his historically abysmal foreign policy that sank the U.S. in the nation’s most senseless war ever. His successor, Richard Nixon, did, in fact, quit nearly three years into his second term for crimes committed during his first and a goodly amount of covering up there-after. Ronald Reagan had his Iran-Contra scandal, which for all intents and purposes should have gotten him impeached, but did indict or jail more members of his administration than any before. Then there is Bill Clinton, who was indeed impeached (only president to have that dishonor in 130-odd years), who spent most of his second term being investigated for a series of odd things which led to perjuring himself before congress about an affair he had with his intern. Finally, we have George W. Bush, whose completely bungled Iraq War galvanized the opposition party to take over congress, trumped by the incredibly horrifying federal government reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and then the economic implosion of the Western hemisphere.
Barack Obama is a glorified amalgamation of Washington/Lincoln/FDR compared to that rogues’ gallery.
But, wait, there’s more: Don’t look now, but the president’s latest victory, the historic Iran Deal that will be his second term’s lasting legacy for good or ill, which could mean hang onto your hats, since he is due for a second-term sinkhole, will not only go through, but doesn’t even reach the usually embarrassing veto stage that looked inevitable just a month ago.
I happen to support the deal, as stated here in July (THE IRAN DEAL AND THE SECRET WAS ON ISIS – Issue: 7/22/15) and after hearing the debate, reading the details, and listening to the objective, non-political commentary of nuclear-proliferation experts from around the globe, it has cemented my belief that this is the best option to integrate a rogue nation into the realm of diplomacy while keeping it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This is not unlike the Kennedy Test-Ban Treaty, (which if you go for conspiracy theories did more to get him killed than anything else), Nixon’s detente policy and the opening of diplomatic relations with China (his finest and most lasting achievement), and the SALT talks and treaties developed for decades under many presidents, but truly championed – much to the chagrin of similar war-hawk conservative voices as we hear today – in the 1980s by Ronald Reagan (also his finest achievement).
Be that as it may, for a second-term president to spearhead this kind of international coalition with so many countries at a time of heightened strife in the Middle East in the wake of the previous administration’s destructive policies in the region, and a constant barrage of misinformation and doom-speak in the press is nothing short of miraculous.
This deal is, and again I state “so far”, the icing on the cake of a second term that has seen Obama’s most controversial and sweeping piece of domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act (something I did not and still do not support) survive two Supreme Court rulings, pretty much cementing it for all time as the law of the land, and it has actually not been the coming calamity the opposition predicted; from loss of jobs to death panels and exploding taxes. On the contrary, firstly the ACA has dropped the number of uninsured Americans (16.4 million), a rate of 35 percent; the biggest improvement in 40 years. This was its aim, although I am dubious to its costs and subsidies, which are not sustainable in the long run, along with the other monstrous government entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. But, for now, in a charmed second term, not even 17 Republicans running for president think it is harmful enough to even broach. That ship, as they say, has left the dock and will sail on into future administrations.
And although several of Obama’s executive actions (while still not eclipsing his predecessor) have rankled those in congress (the political goal of executive actions), they have staved off gridlock. The most pleasing of all, supported by nearly eight out of ten Americans, the president’s opening of relations with Cuba after 50 years of completely failed policy that was so antiquated it had become a joke. This was the “change” that was supposed come around during a rocky first term, but was mostly ignored, like the emerging marriage equality movement that coalesced during Obama’s second term (thanks in some part to his “evolving” on the subject – a kind of goofy, “get with the program” thing that few beyond yours truly has given him shit for) galvanizing the progressive Left like never before.
Much of this has little to nothing to do with a president, these kind of side issues and perks, like gasoline prices dipping below two dollars for the first time in eons; something no one thought possible in 2012 or the Dow rising from an abysmal 7,500 in 2009 to a record 18,200 before the recent dip, which still sits at over 16,000. But then again the “policies” routinely ridiculed by the opposition has in some way resulted in U.S. economic growth at fairly healthy 3.7 percent, as unemployment rate of 5.1 percent – it was 9.3 when Bush left town and according to factcheck.org the U.S. economy, by far the world’s most stable, has now gained nearly five times more jobs under Barack Obama than it did during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Don’t misunderstand me; there are plenty and varied negatives to this administration, some may point out the chaos in the Middle East, which is pretty much the same chaos that has gone down since the birth of this nation, but I for one have applauded Obama for keeping us out of this nonsense for once (Afghanistan notwithstanding, which has got to end sooner than later for my taste). I argue that most of the president’s mishaps happened during his first term, which historically speaking should have cost him the White House in 2012, but it did not. And granted a second term, he has authored one far superior to those that preceded him, at least since I’ve been sucking air.
Considering the craziness listed above, that is as close to not-crappy as anyone under the age of 50 has ever witnessed.
READERS RESPONSES Sept 17th 2015
I have been reading this column for years now and I know, as well as I know all of your readers over that time do, how much the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality means to you. (EQUALITY…OF COURSE – Issue: 7/8/15) This is a landmark decision for this nation, a nation built on the concept that all will have the right to pursue their happiness without interference from the majority rule. As you have stated so eloquently in so many columns in so many ways it is hard to fathom, you CANNOT vote on rights. If women’s suffrage and the civil rights battles have taught us anything it is we owe it to all citizens to look past petty discriminations and mob rules on denied rights to our better angels, our forward-thinking nature that kicked England out, freed the slaves, provided rights denied to women and minorities over the years.
This is a celebration of America; its true values, its true measure, its truest philosophy, as much as any movement before it.
Hooray for our freedom and hooray for sharing it and as always “for liberty and justice for all.”
This is what happens when people use the Bible to try and suppress the march of progress and we shove aside bigotry and replace it with rights, real rights, for ALL citizens, not just some, ALL.
With so much division, and so much bashing of our nation and the fight over ideologies, this is what makes me proud to be an American, to live in the 21st century and to see those clinging to past mistakes and calling it faith and religion (how disgusting) to discriminate go bye-bye.
This is where this case went kablooey. The side that claims that this Supreme Court decision “redefines” marriage is completely and utterly and embarrassingly wrong. The argument itself is patently false. Made up. Stupid. Nowhere in the United State Constitution does it state that marriage is between certain sexes. It does not state it. There is no redefining in the legal sense. It is in fact not fiction defining it within the parameters of how the culture evolves. Just as it did originally not suppose that women should vote or have really any rights or that African Americans are human. Are human!!!!! So don’t give us that weak argument and expect it to pass legal, constitutional muster. It is sad and it had no chance of surviving scrutiny, and if the conservative judges weren’t merely acting out of ideology they would take four minutes to decide that unless there is direct stipulation in the constitution for or against something to be measured, it cannot be denied to the citizenry. Period.
Good column--as ever.
When you gonna do one on Bernie Sanders?
I am not sure how to write this, James. The snark in me is strong on this one. This isn’t about rights, it’s about submission. Civil Unions with full spousal rights would have gotten the same thing while keeping marriage in its traditional form. That was compromise in finest form No, the gay lobby would have none of that. This isn’t about accomplishing things, this is about payback and domination. The gay community is settling scores and looking for blood. Don’t agree with gay marriage? Fine but you do so with your business at risk of lawsuit. Don’t want gays in the Boy Scouts because of its faith based background? Oh no you di’int. In fact many gay activists are wondering where to go from here. They got all they want and are still pissed off. It’s like one gay activist who was quoted in the Washington Post “I liked it better when we were an oppressed minority”. She was right. There was strength, camaraderie and an “us against the world” mentality which is good for both recruiting and motivation.
In conclusion, James, I will ask you the same question I have asked every single other social liberal out there (and have yet to get a reasonable or sensible answer). Where does it end? Who doesn’t get their rights or is it now a social free for all? Do pederasts get their rights now? How about polygamists? Do these new found rights also apply to things like concealed carry laws? Come on, James, as you said “it’s about time"…how about it? Do pedophiles finally have their desires met of reduced age of consent laws? Come on, if we are for equality and in some states, you can marry at 16, why not same sex at 16? Don’t be a hater, don’t let your ugly bigotry go on display. Who are you to define love? Do you see where this is going? Congratulations, you have helped turn our nation into a social cesspool. Let’s raise the Rainbow Flag, salute and congratulate ourselves on a job well done….we are so fucked.
Remember when they said if you let women vote, the next thing will be horses?
It’s been about a century now. Do horses vote??
This was never a left versus right issue. It was made so by the left and the right, and believe me the left had to come kicking and screaming to its senses. This was a people issue. The people won out. Progress and reason won out. Even our supposed progressive president had to “evolve”!
Can you imagine that just twelve short years ago, just a dozen years ago that Karl Rove hatched a successful plan to re-elect George W. Bush by putting referendums on ballots across battleground states to ban gay marriage by making it an amendment to the Constitution? And now it is the law of the land. The vast majority of Americans, not Iranians, were actually voting in droves, so much so it re-elected a buffoon, to have an amendment to refuse rights instead of provide or protect them? This happened and it happened to us a little more than a decade ago and now the polar opposite, supported by the majority of Americans and the whole of us Millennials is finally here.
This is a new age, not liberal, not conservative, not anything but American.
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
James Campion is the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. His new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” is due out this October.
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