Syria? Disarmed. Russia? Backing down. Obama? Still black.

Over the past two days, the Obama Administration has scored two major foreign policy triumphs. (Yes, despite what the darker corners of the neocon bazaar may say, for the most part the Obama record on foreign policy has been quite fruitful.)

First, all of Syria’s declared chemical weapons have been destroyed. This was after the usual critics were calling Pres. Obama weak, feckless, and abandoning the Syrian people by not bombing them. (You have to bomb them to free them, of course. Lesson no. 1 in the Bush/Cheney Manual To Win Hearts and Minds.)

Secondly, Vladimir Putin ordered his version of the Senate to rescind the authorization it gave him to intervene militarily in Ukraine. (That’s the wonderful thing about being a strong man: you can tell your legislature to give you authority to invade a neighboring country, and then turn about and tell it to take it away.) Meanwhile, the West is warning Russia that harsher sanctions are still on the table should this be but yet another of Putin’s many feints. And again, this was after the usual critics called Pres. Obama weak, feckless, and abandoning the Ukrainian people by not skirting with starting World War III. (You have to destroy the world to make it free.)

Of course, if George Bush the Second had accomplished any of his objectives without impoverishing the Republic and stirring animosity abroad, every second high school in the country would be named after him. (The ham-fistedness was a feature, not a bug, however.) Pres. Obama achieved two signal achievements: getting the Assad regime to declare and allow its chemical weapons to be destroyed, and herding the European cats to stand against Putin by squeezing his economy. All without firing a shot or spending treasure. This, by any measure, should win accolades.

But, obviously, the usual sectors of the media are deathly silent on this. Entranced by trivialities, and firmly entrenched in their anti-Obama narratives, they can’t acknowledge that on most issues, Pres. Obama has been correct. He was correct to foster the Arab Spring, in spite of the setbacks. He was right to not threaten to send Germany-based US troops into Ukraine. He was right to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran. He was right to not give the al-Maliki government a blank check as ISIL rampages over the country. (And on that, al-Maliki has rebuffed US and regional demands that he form a national salvation government.)

But like Wile E. Coyote, no matter how many “meep meep” moments Pres. Obama dishes out, the rut stays firm. “Obama is a failure internationally, has sunk US prestige, and has coddled our enemies.”

What could it be that’s different about this President from all the previous ones? The mind boggles.

In spite of the essay’s title, I don’t think it’s merely because he’s the nation’s first black President, and thus held to a standard no other President has ever been held to. But it does inform the discussion.

Many is the time I’ve heard the refrain from black friends: You have to be twice as good to get half the credit. In the nation’s subconscious, I think that’s what we’re seeing here. Achievements which would provide 70% approval ratings barely merit mention, or if mentioned done so in a derogatory manner. In most people’s book, avoiding a land war with Russia while making it scream via sanctions should be a feather in one’s cap. Squeezing Syria merely by the threat of force to give up its chemical weapons should be reason for another Peace Prize. And internationally, the results are showing; since Pres. Obama’s first inauguration, approval of the US overseas has continued to climb, after the nadir reached in the previous administration.

But, people overseas can see Pres. Obama as he is, not through the scrim of the American experiment’s 400 years of racial politics. No, Mitch McConnell doesn’t walk around with a t-shirt emblazoned with “Put the white back in the White House”. But he and his fellow Republicans do court the votes of those who wear them. And when Pres. Obama is called words like “lazy”, that’s another dog whistle to the base.

It could be said that this was to be expected. Even if the sainted Colin Powell had been the nation’s first African American president, he would have faced many of the same hurdles. But a community organizer? A constitutional law professor? A liberal? It’s dialed up to 11.

Pres. Obama may have no honor in his own time. That’s for the history books. But I for one am thankful he’s taken on this burden. The alternatives should frighten anyone of sound mind.

122 Responses to “Syria? Disarmed. Russia? Backing down. Obama? Still black.”

  1. 5 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm


  2. 6 Mary
    June 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Well said! If only the AP would pick up your piece.

  3. 8 Nerdy Wonka
    June 25, 2014 at 12:40 pm

  4. 10 japa21
    June 25, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    LL, as usual, a great post. Like you, I don’t think it is totally because he is black, either. Clinton was also in a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation (most of the time, except when he was giving the GOP everything they wanted.)

    Generally, the current GOP (with the implicit and intentional help of the media) will look to see what a Dem President is doing and then scream for the opposite (or at least something different) to be done. If Clinton had refused to do anything in Bosnia, they would have been yelling at him for sitting on his hands. (Or doing something else with his hands.) However, because he chose to do something, they yelled about that. It was, after all, the typical Democrat doing something to distract from the Benghazi of the day.

    With PBO, however, the resultant lack of acknowledgement or appreciation, and the level of hysteria over anything he does exceeds anything Clinton had to face (whether or not either Clinton would acknowledge that is another story). And that is where skin color comes into play. It is bad enough that a Dem is succeeding, but it is totally intolerable that a black Dem be successful. How dare he, the uppity…

    Any way, as usual, you have done the entire world a service with this exposition.

    • 11 jacquelineoboomer
      June 25, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Well said, japa21 …

      … not to mention well said, LL. I think, in his time, this will fall away gradually and be replaced by the respect he deserves: “Pres. Obama may have no honor in his own time.”

    • 12 ChuckyDoll
      June 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      It’s not totally because President Obama is black, but it’s mostly because he’s black, (or bi-racial). President Obama has been disrespected in ways that Bill Clinton never was. Bill Clinton never had to show his birth-certificate, and was never harassed about his college transcripts. Even former members of the Clinton administration said they have never seen anything like this. A lot of people say they have never seen so many polls about a president, before. Democrats always had Bill Clinton’s back, no matter what. Most democrats in Congress constantly throw President Obama under the bus. The republicans and the media created scandals to make Bill Clinton seem corrupt. (The Monica Lewinsky thing was 100% Bill Clinton’s fault, though). President Obama doesn’t have any real scandals. But, the media takes any non-troversy, or any problem within the government that has existed for decades (like the VA scandal) to make President Obama seem like a dumb, bumbling, incompetent black man.

      Every time something happens, no matter what it is, the media questions the president’s competency, and repeats the word “incompetent” over, and over, again. The media has been releasing B.S. polls recently saying the majority of Americans believe that President Obama is less competent than Bush during Hurricane Katrina. Minorities, especially black minorities, have always had their competence, and intelligence questioned. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the republicans, and the media are trying to make the first black president out to be the dumbest, and the worst president ever.

      Plus, Bill Clinton got credit for the things he did. President Obama never gets credit for the good things he does. A couple of years ago, a republican politician said it was “good politics to oppose the black president.” Bill Clinton had a strong economy (which his policies weren’t 100% responsible for) that helped boost his poll numbers during the republican/media scandal-mongering during his presidency. But, it’s different with President Obama. With an improving economy, you would think President Obama’s poll numbers would be in better shape, in spite of the fake scandals. But, it seems like the better the economy gets, and the more he accomplishes, the worst his poll numbers get. President Obama isn’t even getting credit for the improving economy. I think Bill Clinton got the benefit of the doubt, because he’s a white guy. More people seemed to sympathize with Bill Clinton, more than with President Obama. Nate Silver said people have actually become more racist, not less, since President Obama has been president. And, I believe him. Which is why I’m not even sure if people would care if the GOP impeached President Obama.

      • 13 jacquelineoboomer
        June 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

        I don’t know. Totally understand why you wrote every well-thought-out word you did, especially about the racism. (I “stuck by” Bill Clinton for 8 long years, because he was a Democrat. Supported him, feverishly. The minute he made that comment in SC ’08, I knew I had wasted my support for 8 long years, because I realized he was just as much a bigot as anybody else – he just hid it better.) But every time I think that the people in this country don’t care, don’t appreciate what he’s done, and have deserted the President, I think of the long first 4 years we went through with him, thinking and experiencing the worst, before he was RE-ELECTED for the second time. So, there’s the disconnect for me. The freakin’ polls are all skewed; the people not polled might be more numerous than we think. I don’t believe that’s being Pollyannish of me ~ although who cares if it is, since I sincerely believe it. I think it’s the underlying truth that we never hear about because of those in our citizenry who always have been and always will be racist to the core, who have the louder, more obnoxious voices, and the signs with misspelled words on them. Plus, Americans have the attention span of a gnat, and even though most of us are paying heed, those who aren’t don’t even know there’s a question to be answered. Wake up, America!

      • June 25, 2014 at 4:55 pm

        Co-sign 100%, ChuckyDoll.

    • 15 vcprezofan2
      June 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Added to what you and Lib_L have said, Japa, I think Pres O’s opposition is also narrow-minded, closeminded, ignorant and shallow. They know one way to fix any situation, and because it may have worked in the past, there is no reason in their minds to educate themselves on the fact that scenarios that may seem similar to ones of old are really not the same in the 21st C. IOW, they found ‘a’ solution, and cannot or will not deviate. Take Hillary 2008 campaign as an example. Remember also the pols who revealed that they thought BHO was an upstart because he hadn’t ‘paid his dues’ in the Senate or wherever.

      By their methodology we will/would never get any new blood/new ideas into the upper echelons of political service and real decision making. This works for both sides of the aisle as far as I’ve seen, though there are more Dems than Repubs willing to move forward. IMO this is also one reason the MSM is so flummoxed by PBO. HE DOES NOT FOLLOW THE PLAYBOOK THEY HAD ABSORBED. HE KEEPS TRYING TO WRITE THIS NEW 21stC PLAYBOOK (THAT ACTUALLY CONSIDERS THE FACTS AS THEY ARE; THAT TRIES TO UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY OF THOSE BEING DEALT WITH; THAT RECOGNIZES THE NEED FOR REAL INTERACTION etc etc.) AND THEY DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO LEARN ANYTHING NEW, OR CHANGE THEIR APPROACH, OR GET THE FACTS! This is why I am so strongly opposed to Hillary being crowned unopposed, and why I am so very, very strongly PRO ‘younger’ politicians running in 2016. It’s time for the old patterns and regimes to go.

      As an aside

      As adults we brag about the creativity, smarts, genius, wisdom…. in our young people, yet we hesitate to step aside and let them lead. Frankly, I personally think that as a group we adults are too selfish when it comes to handing over the reins so the younger adults can make their mark. I have met any number of young people who are smarter and wiser than I am, and yet who are not arrogant (I’ve met those types too); smart enough to be willing to listen and to combine their savvy with the wisdom of their elders to move forward. At the rate we operate politically, they’ll be old themselves before they get to put a hand on the reins. At the rate we operate politically, we’ll be looking at idiots like McCain and Boehner, and oldsters like Cochran, and Rengel and…. and.. till they (I’m sorry) drop dead. Something’s off.

  5. 16 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    lovely goal by messi via free kick. Over the wall of the defenders.

  6. June 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    You are the Lionel Messi of TOD, LL, thank you for another thoughtful, wonderful piece.

  7. June 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm

  8. 43 Gazelle
    June 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    [I watched the season Josh was on. This article, although long, is well worth the read, more so about our broken mental health system.]

    Dusk loomed a few hours away, but as the young man wandered, vacant eyed, through the back streets of his Chicago boyhood, a different kind of darkness, one that had stalked him for months, settled on him like a fog.

    Please, he begged.

    No, the voices insisted.

    The gun had been easy enough to find, even for someone who’d grown up abhorring the destruction that violence had visited on the city he loved.

    He hadn’t even had to pay for it. Not that he could have. A thousand dollars plus an iPhone had been the ask. He had eight bucks in his pocket, and there was no way he was giving up his phone, the one on which he had saved every message from his mother as the darkness had descended.

    You can borrow it, then. A favor. But you best bring it back.

    A few miles away, cheeks wet from panicked tears, hands slapping the steering wheel, his mother weaved through rush-hour traffic, stoplights and speed limits be damned. Her son, she had been told, was wandering the streets. With a gun.

    Please, baby. I’m on my way.

    That it had come to this, in the space of only a few months, seemed inconceivable. Just a year earlier, Josh Marks, the 7-foot-2 gentle giant with the sweet-tempered smile and almost sappy sincerity, was the breakout star on Gordon Ramsay’s reality show MasterChef. From rival competitors to hardened viewers to the cooking contest’s notoriously hotheaded, impossible-to-please host, the 26-year-old Marks had done the unimaginable: make everyone like him. Even when he didn’t win—he was a runner-up in a season that had started with some 30,000 applicants—he seemed to come out on top. Restaurants wanted him, and his growing legion of fans lavished supportive comments on him. He was on his way. Or seemed to be. Until the first panic attack came. [….]

    More here:

  9. 46 Ladyhawke
    June 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm


    Boehner’s attack on Obama’s executive orders ignores presidential history



    When it comes to executive orders, Obama has so far been a model of executive restraint. Consider that as the political theater of Boehner’s lawsuit plays out over the coming days and weeks. As John Hudak writes, “claims that President Obama is issuing more than his predecessors is just flat wrong—and continues to be a talking point completely at odds with real data.”



    • 47 vcprezofan2
      June 25, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      ‘Boehner’s attack on Obama’s executive orders ignores presidential history’

      LadyH, does this writer actually think Boehner knows ‘presidential history’ exists? Heck, Boehner doesn’t even know that what he says/does/doesn’t do is feeding his own contribution to US history!

  10. June 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm


    Thank you for your essay. There is nothing to add. The last paragraph says it all.

  11. June 25, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Fine essay, LL!

    Congrats on 1st John!!!

  12. 57 Ladyhawke
    June 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Press Secretary Josh ‘The Voice’ Earnest is at the podium…..

    Just said Speaker Boehner wants to bring a tax payer lawsuit against President Obama for doing his job.

  13. 58 Nerdy Wonka
    June 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm

  14. 59 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Good Afternoon Folks 😉

    Excellent R&S, NW and LL’s Brilliant post.

    Congrats to all Au winners 4 posts back.

  15. 60 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    and nigeria scores. excellent finish by musa.

  16. 61 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    WH Presser with Josh “The Voice” Earnest is Currently LIVE on 6-25-14


  17. June 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

  18. 63 vcprezofan2
    June 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    ‘But I for [two] am thankful [PBO]’s taken on this burden. The alternatives should frighten anyone of sound mind.’

    Thank you, Lib-L – short, ‘sweet’ and on point!

      • 65 vcprezofan2
        June 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm

        I’m back, and so are you! 😀 Welcome back!

        • June 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm

          Hey VC! I’ve been caught in ‘pending’ a lot lately. Just playing catch up again today. Can’t believe I am supposed to be retired.

          • 67 vcprezofan2
            June 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm

            ‘Retired’ is just a word, an often meaningless one, I think. Unless of course one redefines it as being ‘tired again’, then of course it applies to me often. 😉 😉

            • June 25, 2014 at 6:11 pm

              Yup that’s one way to see it, but I have a friend who uses it like retread, new tires, re-tired, ready to go. He’s nuts and so am I. How about re-aligned? cuz all I’ve done is put my energy into something just as time consuming as a full time job. If you’ve done that too well no wonder you are re-tired.

              • 69 vcprezofan2
                June 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm

                I like retread, actually. 😀 And no, I am literally too lazy to re-align my efforts. I do what I have to do when it *has* to be done, otherwise I procrastinate. I could honestly merit a procrastination medal.

  19. 72 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    and arg score back. raining goals here.

    • 73 Jewelz
      June 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      I’m on pins and needles watching this game. I thought the USA vs Portugal game was heart-pounding, but this one takes the cake.

  20. 74 Nerdy Wonka
    June 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm

  21. 75 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm


    Voters in Lotta, South Carolina knocked their mayor down a peg on Tuesday when they voted to strip him of some powers in retaliation for his decision to fire a gay police chief.

    The Columbia Free-Times reported that roughly half of Lotta’s residents voted in favor of a referendum to replace the town’s strong-mayor form of government with a more powerful Town Council. That means the Town Council, not the mayor, would be responsible for hiring and firing employees.

  22. 76 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    nga effed up a golden opportunity to equalize.

  23. 77 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    messi is out.

  24. June 25, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Um, Chips? Nerdy?

    This is me doing a happy dance. Wheeeee!!

  25. June 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    “Ignore the Boko Haram bombing all our markets” — Pres. Goodluck Jonathon

  26. 90 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm

  27. 99 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

  28. June 25, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    • 101 0388jojothecat
      June 25, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      $24 Billion GOP orchestrated government shutdown with John Bonehead watching and doing nothing to prevent it.

  29. 102 hopefruit2
    June 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Here’s what PBO (and his press sec Josh Ernest) think of Boehner’s latest cry for attention:

  30. June 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm


  31. 110 Ladyhawke
    June 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm



  32. 111 amk for obama
    June 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    ngs effing up so many chances.

    • 112 Jewelz
      June 25, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      So many missed opportunities. I think they’re still going to advance to the round of 16 along with Argentina because Iran just lost to Bosnia. So, it’s all good. Nigeria and Algeria (maybe) are likely to be the only African teams to advance to the next round.

      • 113 amk for obama
        June 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

        yeah, both go through last 16. nga goalkeeper was busy and credit goes to him for keeping the one goal margin.

  33. 114 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

  34. 116 Nena20409
    June 25, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Read LL’s tweet post up thread…..then here’s more Horrific Explosions……in Nigeria.


  35. 118 carolyn
    June 25, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Good afternoon everyone. Yesterday was our 48th anniversary, so we celebrated, and then watched Oklahoma election results on our local PBS station.
    We went to our art museum, for the traveling exhibit from Paris: “Gods and Heroes: Paintings from Ecole de Beaux Artes. The exhibition covered paintings and sculptures of over 300 years. If this exhibit comes to your city, I recommend you see it. It is worthwhile. Then, we had lunch at the excellent Museum Café, and finished our treat off with ice cream from a local place that still makes its ice cream in small batches from the original 1908 recipe. A wonderful day with my sweetheart.

    Regarding Oklahoma elections…the one with national attention was the Repub primary for the Senate seat of Tom Coburn. The panelists on our PBS station knew the state politics, so were informative.
    Lankford, who won, was our Congressman the last two terms. Very RIGHTIST. The other candidate was T.W.Shannon, speaker of the State House of Reps. Shannon is probably the person most responsible for Oklahoma not taking the Medicaid expansion. He was endorsed by Cruz and Palin. TV was filled the last week with a promo by Ted Cruz. YUK!!! He thought he had the contest won. However…..Lankford got the Baptist vote, and you can’t beat the Baptists in Okla. He was director of Falls Creek, the Baptist camp in the Arbuckle Mtns. Every Baptist has gone to Falls Creek, or a relative has, or has good friends who have gone there, and he has spoken in about every Baptist church in the state. Shannon had outside money spent on him, but I think it backfired.

    The panel said last night that people are becoming wary of outside ads, and it’s going more and more back to the personal one on one and small meetings for success. I don’t like either man. But I was glad to see Palin and Cruz get shot down by a large margin….about 20 points.

    • 119 jackiegrumbacher
      June 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Carolyn, congratulations on your anniversary–glad you had a chance to celebrate and do things you both enjoy. Sorry that you’ll continue to have a senator in Congress who doesn’t represent you. It’s a curse too many Americans have to bear. [Don’t know how this reply slipped out of place since its a response to Carolyn.]

  36. 120 Gazelle
    June 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    [LOL! Effers!!! From Juanita Jean:]

    Ahhh … yes, cricket sounds from True the Vote.

    Fifty-year-old Robert Monroe has been charged for voting more than a dozen times in 4 elections.

    “Wisconsin Republican donor busted for voting 5 times in Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election.”

    A complaint claimed that Monroe voted five times in Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) recalled election. He also was accused of voting illegally in a 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, a 2012 primary, and the 2012 presidential election.

    Wait till you read his excuse: http://www.juanitajean.com/2014/06/24/and-true-the-vote-said-chirp-chirp/

  37. 121 mtmarilyn
    June 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Great post LL!!!!

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