Decency vs Effectiveness

There is a saying in sports I hear all the time by commentators: ‘for as good as he is in his sport, he is even a better person’.

Well, that is pretty much impossible! To be a professional athlete, you have to be in the 1% of the 1% of the 1% in your sport. I can pretty much guarantee that same dude is not in that percentile in terms of being a nice guy. I mean I imagine that guy being some sort of saint, who would donate all of their money to sick kids or spend all of his time with the needy. I don’t think St Peter was out practicing his jumper or working on his route running.

In other words, that is a stupid thing to say about someone who excels so greatly in a certain profession.

However, I would say that about President Obama.

I know, I know. He is way better than what is coming next. And you can count me in the 50.1% of people who are fearful of what is to come. And yes, I voted for him twice and would vote for him again if given the chance.

But I don’t think he was a great president.

Good, yes. But not great.

He reminds me of a mix between Jimmy Carter and John F Kennedy. He has the decency of Carter; a man who excelled as a private citizen, winning a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Habitat for Humanity (Obama essentially won his for not being W. Bush). He has the charisma of JFK; a man who would win over a crowd any time he spoke and had an over-romanticized life in ‘Camelot’. But in both cases, not much meaningful legislation was passed, mainly due to the lack of political capital each had. (remember, it took LBJ to pass all of Kennedy’s ideas through Congress). Obama had many ideas, and many I agreed with, but when you look back, not much really was enacted in the way it was supposed to. Withdrawal completely from Afghanistan in 6 months? Eh, not quite. Shut down Gitmo in a year? Yeah, that didn’t happen either.

I saw a recent study on CNN that showed Obama accomplished 48% of what he promised during his campaign, 26% he compromised on, and the rest was left for dead. Is that good? I am not sure relative to other presidents, but all I know is that if a friend promised me things and delivered 48% of the time, I wouldn’t value his word so much.

Yeah, yeah. Unfair. I know he had a Congress that handcuffed him at every turn and it is the nature of the beast to promise on more things you can actually deliver on. But these shortcomings prevent me from classifying him as a great president. If you give him credit for killing bin Laden, you have to criticize him for Syria. If you give him credit for the economic upturn, you have to lay blame for not closing the chasmic gap of wealth in our country. In my eyes, not all his fault but also not all should be accredited to him.

However, as a man there is no question he is great. A scandal-free White House is unbeknownst to America since…well…ever. And the way he handled the utter defiance of the Congress and the unabashed hate that he drummed up primarily due to his skin color was amazing. He has as much class and dignity as a modern-day Fred Rogers, and I really liked Mr. Rogers. Yeah, the ‘Hopehopehopehopehopehopehopehope’ stuff I found sort of lame and patronizing; a privileged man with a beautiful wife, kids, and a paved road to academic and political success that did not even require him to pay his dues and only served one full term as a Senator squawking about ‘hope’ all the time does nothing for me……always found it odd that such an intellectual man would play to the pathos before the logos……oh well.

Anyway, I will remember him as a president who did some goods things, but didn’t do as much as I wished. He is a man than should be admired, even if his kindness was his weakness when it was all said and done.