{ Hail } ~ to the Chief

The end of the Barack Obama era and a graphite stick drawing of a much younger Obama early in his first Administration.  The expression I chose at the time seems grimly prophetic today.
It's difficult to gauge how history will ultimately judge his Administration.
He swept into office with one of the thinnest resumes in public service {only to be surpassed by his successor}and rode a wave of rhetorical oratory and telegenic cool.
That last virtue would be put to the challenge immediately. 
Upon entering office, he was confronted with one of the greatest Economic crises since the Great Depression.  A fact that severely limited implementing any progressive social agenda and alienated many supporters swept up in Obamamania and his high-minded rhetoric: "Yes, We Can!" became "not right now".  His comportment during this most difficult period in the global economy cannot be overstated and should ultimately ensure his Administration is viewed favorably in the future: he was the epitome of cool, composed, calm.  Precisely what was needed.  His Stimulus Package was the right balance of Government intervention - perhaps most memorably symbolized by the 'Cash for Clunkers' buyback- which 'jump-started' a moribund American and global economy. That the American economy has recovered and is relatively strong is directly related to Obama's effective leadership during this crucial period.  
Given the shape of the country he inherited and the limited options, he performed admirably and enjoyed some successes in the face of extreme obstructionism bordering on outright lunacy {the 'Birther' issue being perhaps the low point}.  He was able to implement a workable Affordable Care Act, frequently dubbed 'Obamacare' by both friend and foe, which increases accessibility for countless Americans left out of the previous system {while increasing the costs if you listen to the critics}.  He gave the order to 'take out' Osama Bin Laden, exorcising the latest American 'bogeyman' and laying to rest any 'allegiances' some of his nuttier critics charged him with.  But perhaps his greatest, most longest lasting legacy will be that he broke the 'color barrier' by becoming the first African-American president and comporting himself with a dignity and grace that can only make the pathway for future African American candidates much easier.   

But there are the failures and disappointments as well.
He failed to close the Guantanamo 'detention centers' or whatever euphemism you wish to call them which was/is a huge black eye for a country and leader that speaks of the Rule of Law and respect for Due Process and Human Rights; he has been dubbed the 'Drone King' for the number of times his Administration has sent Drones to 'eliminate' or 'neutralize' 'targets' that violated the sovereignty of other Nations and broke the spirit if not the letter of International Law; his Administration was caught 'spying' on our friends {an irony considering the hue and cry over Russian meddling in America's most recent election}; and he pulled the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan which has seen these countries slide into civil unrest and the hands of extremists like ISIL.  American -backed 'rebels' in Syria have resulted in civil war with refugees overcrowding make-shift refugee camps in adjacent countries placing huge strain on these countries and Europe as well.  These rebels may prove that the 'cure' to the Assad regime is worse than the 'poison'.   
Ultimately, every leader must also provide an 'exit strategy' that leaves the party and country in capable hands.  And this may be his most damaging legacy:   It is quite extraordinary to ponder that a year ago the Republicans were in disarray with many questioning the future of the party and now it is the opposite with the Democrats in disarray and the White House and the Senate surrendered to Obama's political adversaries led by one of the weakest Presidential hopefuls in recent memory. This, too, falls within Obama's legacy.

Graphite stick drawing that appeared in the Toronto Star some years back and was exhibited in Sintra, Portugal at the World Press Cartoon Exhibition in 2009. 


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