Welcome, President Obama

Published 11:01 am Monday, January 26, 2009

He’s black, a Democrat, liberal, intelligent, articulate, self-assured, elitist. He is Barack Obama, and he is our president. This is what matters.

Perhaps no one put it better — or can be more respected for saying it — than Senator John McCain:”His success is our success.”

Some voted against President Obama for the above reasons, and some voted against him for the same reasons. Nonetheless and despite whether these factors are good, bad or irrelevant, Barack Obama is now President of the United States of America and will be for at least the next four years. He is our president—all of us.

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Some are already planning strategy to defeat him for re-election in 2012, just as others are already planning strategy to win re-election and extend his tenure to eight years. That’s how things are, and this isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s called political reality or necessity. Those who would again oppose him should focus on how their candidate is more qualified and be alert to the incumbent’s weaknesses and failures. There will be such. The latter should focus on his strengths and successes. There will be these as well.

What is illegitimate and immoral is working to undermine confidence in a president’s ability and subvert his efforts as president. There will be those in the senate who will vote against confirming some appointees precisely because he appointed them and not because they recognize unsuitability for office. There will be in both houses of congress those who will vote against the bills he proposes precisely because it is he who will propose them rather than what is proposed is bad.

We expect, of course, it will be Republicans who will do this. They will know how to do it, because the Democrats have been teaching them for eight years. So it goes when another political party gains the majority.

This partisan opposition for the sake of opposition is wrong, and our elected officials betray the trust we put in them. (Unless, of course, you have voted for them to do this sort of nonsense. There are such voters.

It is also not only unethical but morally wrong for Democrats to approve Obama’s nominations or vote for his proposals because they come from him. Members of congress are there not to represent the president but the people. They must vote for what is good for the country and not for what he wants. When a nominee or a proposed bill is both what the president wants and good for the country, everyone should vote for it—Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Some Democrats will uncritically support President Obama for no other reason than his also being a Democrat. Some Republicans will oppose him just because he is a Democrat. Both are wrong.

When the president proposes something to make himself look good politically (which shouldn’t surprise), Republicans should be alert enough to recognize this and oppose it as being unworthy, and Democrats should be honest enough to admit this. There are other ways of making a president look good.

When the president proposes something that is good for the country (which also shouldn’t surprise), Republicans should be honest enough to recognize its worth, and Democrats should be humble enough to sell it as good for the country rather than a gift from a Democrat president.

Far too much partisan politics worries about who gets credit or is blamed rather than what is good for the country despite its political origin.

I write as if all the wrong were perpetrated and all the right were accomplished in Washington by politicians. When whoever it is that initially said”all politics is local,” he must have meant the politics played out in Washington originate in the politics of the people who put them in office.

So, let’s look to ourselves. Let’s work together to make the presidency of Barack Obama the most successful and productive presidency in American history. There is time and means enough to worry about what we do in another four years.