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For President Obama, Everything Is Everything

President Obama talking on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine on Saturday. Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama talking on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine on Saturday. Photo by Pete Souza


Sam Stein and Sabrina Siddiqui put together a piece for the Huffington Post outlining the media’s sensational framing of everything President Obama has encountered during his presidency, some events being a natural phenomenon of the office, but the reality is he’s spent much of his presidency fending off destructive attacks from within and holding the line against the Brooks Brothers door-busting crush of right wing terrorism and corporate propaganda.

No easy feat. While vote-depressing meme-birthers drive the emotional instability and collective paranoia of polarized America, the media keeps setting impossible test standards and then struggles to read the scores.

As Russia heightens its military activity in Ukraine, President Barack Obama’s handling of the crisis is arguably “the biggest test of his presidency.”

That is, according to beltway media.

The use of the phrase has not been limited to foreign crises in Ukraine, Syria or Libya, but has also been bestowed upon domestic challenges such as the health care law and reducing the debt.

The Huffington Post compiled the other “biggest tests” of Obama’s presidency, listed below in chronological order:

The Financial Crisis of 2007-08.

Obama was confronted with his first “biggest test” before he even became president. The Daily Democrat wrote in 2008 that “Should Obama win … sorting out the economy is going to be the biggest test of Obama’s presidency.” (Spoiler alert: He won.)

Conservatives still believe that the blip-recession Ronald Reagan presided over was the return of Republican Jesus saving the country from ‘welfare queens’ and a nuclear free world.

As a country, we still recall Reagan fondly, even though he never recalled any criminality he was ever a party to. It’s blasphemy to say otherwise. You must kiss the ring of Saint Reagan or suffer marginalization. Common wisdom tends to silence reasonable dissent.

I was in a little rural Illinois breakfast pit yesterday. FOX News was quietly airing on a couple televisions in the corners when a bi-racial family walked in and sat down. The kids all wearing what looked like hand-me-down winter coats provided by a mother that could have been President Obama’s mother. She was tending to her three kids between the ages of 6 and 10, all crammed into a booth. She wore the smile of an exhausted single mother, I know the look, and when the waitress came over to take their order, she did her visible best to show it. She ordered juice for herself and pancakes for the kids.

I couldn’t help but to empathize with her, but more than that, I wondered what sort of country her kids were witnessing, and what growing up in the time of President Obama means to them, or to their outlook on the future.

The Reagan 80s gave us expedited income inequality, unprecedented debt, schizophrenic tax policy, a nuclear arms race, proxy wars, right wing death squads, arms dealing, the support for dictators and terrorist organizations and, as an accomplice to the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iranians and leftists in Central America, Reagan gave us misery and death with smiles.

This is the political world where I grew up. I could see through the smiles.

The world those kids at the diner are growing up in is a much different world. They’re growing up through all of this being made to feel ashamed by predominantly white America for even thinking that a president who has led the country through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and won, or a president that is leaving behind an America where we have less nuclear weapons and more healthcare, or an honest accounting of debt and war, more consumer protections and civil rights, can never measure up to a senile actor that played a fictional president on television.

By every measure of leadership, and every pop-test the media keeps inventing, the results of which are inevitably edited and conveniently discarded, President Obama is a much better president than Ronald Reagan ever was. He’s a much better American, if that word still has any meaning.

Which is why those kids eating breakfast with their struggling mother have to be shamed and silenced into submission. Hope is contagious.

I don’t know exactly how President Obama is going to deal with a Russian show of military incursion into Ukraine.  But not every international face-saving version of all-dressed-up-and-no-one-to-invade by criminal regimes with something to prove should be grounds for World War III rhetoric and mobilization.

I can say with some certainty that with President Obama, we won’t be subjected to a nuclear arms race, or a trumped-up military conflict with Russia based on lies. We won’t be arming Ukrainians or declaring that “we’re all Georgians” while scaring American children down to the basement with their state-issued Bibles and trusty roll of duct tape leftover from 9/11.

Like those kids at the diner, the Republican party must never allow the American people to appreciate what it means to have the best president in modern history looking after their interests. Killing hope in its crib is their only hope, which is why every presidential test these career moral failures grade him on comes stamped with an automatic “F.”

It’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ for the GOP’s intellectually-violent bullying and dumbing down of America. A pluses and extra credit for showing up to Revisionist History class with a gun and a Gadsden flag.

May your first anti-Obama child be a masculine child who idolizes Ronald Reagan. Right wing billionaires are depending on their unearned confidence and unquestioning loyalty.

  • nathkatun7

    Thank you Mr. Brink for this excellent Post! I am, of course, much older than you and my memory of St. Ronnie Reagan, the B-movie actor, go back to the days when he was a lousy governor of California. Revisionist historians/biographers of St. Ronnie conveniently leave out the fact St Ronnie, when he left the governorship in CA, in 1973, California was in debt. It took the young Jerry Brown to rescue California from Reagan’s tax cuts and excessive spending. Reagan the president, relying on supply-side economic doctrine, did the same thing to the National debt. Revisionists who worship St. Ronnie will never mention the fact that when Reagan left office, in Jan.,1989, He had recorded the largest federal government deficit in history. The other Reagan debacles people who worship Reagan don’t want to talk about include: 1. the Iran/contra scandal; 2. his idiotic deployment of Marines to a civil war in Lebanon, followed by quick cut and run exit, after the terrorists killed over 241 marines and and other service members; the laughable and illegal invasion of a tiny caribbean Island of Grenada. To this day, I still don’t understand why Reagan is held in such a high esteem!

  • eljefejeff

    you know what kills me is everything Obama has had to deal with, probably more than any president in history as far as the number of current and looming crises….and how little help he’s gotten in tackling these issues, whereas Bush’s big issue coming in was how to dole out our record budget surplus to multimillionaires.

  • Mike_Norris

    Brilliant Brink.

    • mrbrink

      Thanks, Mike.

  • muselet

    As a country, we still recall Reagan fondly …

    That’s a mystery to me. I have never understood why Americans bought Ronald Reagan’s dewy-eyed nostalgia for a time that never existed, pitched with the insincere grin of a used-car salesman. I have never understood why Americans, having seen the high human cost of Reagan’s preferred policies, haven’t recoiled in horror from what he—and we, by electing and reelecting him—did. I have never understood why the index case of what Charlie Pierce calls the prion disease infecting the Republican Party is held in high esteem by anyone not similarly infected.

    By every measure of leadership, and every pop-test the media keeps inventing, the results of which are inevitably edited and conveniently discarded, President Obama is a much better president than Ronald Reagan ever was.

    Indeed. Too bad our glorious news media go into a defensive crouch (or into the fetal position) whenever a Righty snarls about “liberal media bias.” An honest appraisal of the relative strengths of recent presidents would make for interesting reading.


    • Victor_the_Crab

      Bill Maher nails it perfectly:

  • drspittle

    Brilliant post, mrbrink. Just brilliant. You nailed it. I read in comments on another blog that Chuckie Doll Todd was vomiting his “Obama blah blah” “Ukraine” blah blah bile on MTP. I’ve been worried about Chucie Doll Todd. What with the Winter Olympics, cataclysmic winter weather in the US, and the now functioning ACA web site, he had no sustenance to feed his Obama Derangement Syndrome. Let’s see what Chuckie Doll cooks up in his mainslime media meth lab.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Per Bing, “the biggest test of his presidency” obama gets 433,000 results. That’s a lot of “biggest” tests.

    (Bush had only, uh, 17?? Sheesh.)

    • mrbrink

      Brilliant addendum. Good looking out, Christopher.

      • Christopher Foxx

        Thank you.

  • JeremyinAustin

    Great article as always. It is good to push back against the rush to tear down the president’s actions before he even acts.