By Kit-Bacon Gressitt / Excuse Me, I’m Writing / Originally published Dec 12, 2010
I voted for President Barack Obama, and I don’t care what anyone says, I still like him. And you know why?
I still like Obama because he is not any of the other parties’ alternatives who vied for voter approval in 2008. He is not Senator John McCain or former Governor Mike Huckabee or former Governor and perpetually-tanned Mitt Romney or Congressman Ron Paul or former Senator Fred Thompson or former Congressman Duncan Hunter or former Mayor Rudy Giuliani or perpetual candidate Alan Keyes or Senator and Governor-elect Sam Brownback or former Governor Jim Gilmore or former Congressman Tom Tancredo or former Governor Tommy Thompson — or Prohibition Party Candidate Gene Amundson. (Yes, the Prohibition Party is still on the books, but it has really petered out. Kind of like an opened beer you find beside the Naugahyde recliner after a night of debauchery.)
With the exception of Gene Amundson, who died seven months into Obama’s presidency, imagine what any of these candidates would have done to stem the economic greed bleed created under President George W. Bush’s watch: Any one of them would have given obsequious tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest two percent of folks, tossed two aspirins to the rest of us, and obstructed an unemployment insurance extension in the morning. The hypocrisy of it is not entertaining: Congressional Republicans disdain unemployment extensions “because they increase the deficit,” but they are infatuated with extending Bush-era tax gifts for the rich — even though they increase the deficit. Consequently…
I still like Obama because, contrary to the pundits who have to say pesky things to sell ads and contrary to the congressional Democrats who are now pandering to the progressives they abandoned in the healthcare insurance reform debate, I think President Bill Clinton is correct: President Obama negotiated the best deal possible on the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act. And if the Dems hold it up until January, when the House shifts to a Republican majority, any semblance of a balanced compromise is unlikely.
I still like Obama because some imperfect healthcare insurance reform is better than no healthcare insurance reform — in a life or death sort of way. So far, the reform bill has stopped insurance companies from denying coverage to our kids because they have pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime caps, which is critically important to those of us with chronic illnesses. Our young adult offspring can now stay on our policies until they turn 26. Standard preventive services are now free for people in new plans. And the list goes on — as long as Congress doesn’t screw it up. Of course, the list would have gone on a lot longer than that, had congressional Democrats stood by their president and voted for the reforms he requested rather than backpedaling in hope of surviving midterm elections, a disloyal tactic that — gosh, what a surprise! — didn’t work out for many of them. Had the Dems accepted their economy-driven fate and voted with some compassion, we could have had an absolutely fabulous reform bill. Nincompoops.
I still like Obama because, true to the historical sequence of suffrage, we had to elect an African American man to the presidency before we could elect a woman. Obama’s presidency means women are up next. Damn time.
I still like Obama because unlike Clinton or George W., Obama will make sure Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) goes away, the military survives, and all those fearful heterosexuals can continue to self-perpetuate. And he’s aligned with a majority of the public, who poll consistently at almost 60 percent in favor of allowing gays to serve openly. (I wonder which polls McCain is reading.) Also, although DADT wasn’t the first thing on Obama’s agenda and he is too conservative on same-sex marriage, unlike the trepidatious men I know, Obama gives full-frontal same-sex hugs. And if that doesn’t do it for you, think about those 2008 candidates. Can you picture any of them posting a video message to gay kids to tell them “It Gets Better”? Nope, not one of them did, but Obama did, and I’d give him a full-frontal hug for that.
I still like Obama because, after the battering midterm elections and in the throes of a lame duck session, he isn’t hunkered down licking his wounds, trying to stay out of the line of fire, deflecting his frustration to the hostility of Call of Duty: Black Ops or some equally bloody war-making game. No, he is out in the field, trying to get things done despite the opposition, such things as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which should have been as easy “Yes” for the Senate; he is calling the Republicans and the Democrats on their fruitless behavior; he is leading, not posing for reality television with the sickening satisfaction of a recreational hunter, à la Sarah Palin.
I still like Obama because he understands we are a nation that cares. We don’t always show it, but in a crisis of need you can count on us to give our money, to give our time, to clear out our closets and donate all those treasures we really will never use to those who will, to show we care. That’s why the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) is such a great piece of legislation for us: It addresses a long-term and tortured problem, fraught with border-skulking secret agent-wannabes, prejudice and ignorance, and it offers the nation an opportunity to turn all that compassion inward. The DREAM Act provides for the offspring of illegal immigrants, raised but not born in the United States, to become citizens via successful college or military service. The DREAM Act is one of the few wise responses to the great immigration debate to emerge in far too many moons: It tells these kids we care about them, and they need that. Quelle idée!
I still like President Obama because he is not any of the overly-coiffed egos vying for a Republican nod in 2012. He is not Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour or still-tanned Mitt Romney or South Dakota Senator John Thune or outgoing Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Mike Huckabee or former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or former Sarah Palin, who has become a mockery of herself — and she was a distinctly undistinguished public figure to begin with.
And, I still like President Obama because, well, okay, I admit it! I like President Obama because he is African American — and I am an anti-racist pig. Slave owners five or six generations ago, my family celebrated his success and wept at the terrible and wonderful significance of his election. The African American rental car worker at the airport the next morning celebrated and wept with me. My friends and I celebrated and wept while watching the inauguration. And still I celebrate and weep for my president. This is an unappreciative country he leads. Oh, Obama is not liberal enough for me — no one who can be elected president would be — and I could join the fray and rail endlessly about the things I don’t like, but he is making progress on many of the issues that are important to me. He is making as much progress as Congress, his own party and politics allow. And for that I like him, still.