While occupying the office of President of the United States, Barack Obama had the single, most, influential impact that one man can have on current events. Some of the challenges of the day are self-created and others give rise of their own accord, but the president shapes the climate and attitudes of the nation within the often hazy, heat of the moment. Obama’s dusty prints have clouded America’s recent chapters, casting them into the dustbin of history.
‘The Most Transparent Administration’
Upon the conclusion of George W Bush’s presidency, which was riddled with foreign wars and escalating debts, Barack Obama pledged to the American people ‘hope and change.’ The crux of this pledge was that of a transparent administration. In fact, on 1/21/2009, Obama’s 2nd day in office, President Obama declared, “Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
One way to quantify a presidency’s transparency is by studying their adeptness in handling Freedom of Information Act Requests. FOIA is a 50 year old law that gives citizens the right to access information from the federal government. Obviously, an administration that prides itself on transparency would go above and beyond to make sure the citizens’ requests are satisfied. Yet, as reported by PBS NewsHour, “the Obama administration set a record for censoring government files or outright denying access.” In fact, the Obama administration set a record in 2015 for either censoring or failing to send 77% of the requested files.
The American people felt the lack of transparency. In 2013, a Reason-Rupe poll found that 57% of Americans do not consider the Obama administration to be the most transparent in history. A year later, a Fox News poll echoed similar sentiments finding, “more than two-thirds — 68 percent — say no, this White House is not the most open and transparent.” Obama finished up his presidency, with a majority 59% feeling that he “mostly failed” on keeping his pledge of running a transparent administration.
Solydnra was a California based company focusing on new technology in solar panels. This once mega-hyped solar panel startup raised over a billion dollars from private investors and over $535 million of tax-payer funds in the form of a loan backed by the Department of Energy. “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future,” said President Obama.
‘Prosperous,’ Obama? The future shows that this is yet another classic example of government interfering in the free market, misallocating over a half of a billion dollars, and sticking the tax payers with the bill. When asked directly if Obama regretted the $535 million federal loan guarantee, he unremorsefully responded, “No, I don’t.”
Ahmed Mohamed a.k.a ‘Clock Boy’
A firestorm rocked the country when 14 year old Ahmed entered his school with a disassembled then reassembled 1986 Radio Shack clock. This show-and-tell piece was encased, not in a traditional clock sphere or clock-radio shell, but instead in a briefcase. In a era of school bomb threats and terrorism, the public school with a zero tolerance policy sprung into action to assure the safety of all the students. This precaution resulted in the suspension and police handcuffing of Ahmed under the reasonable suspicion of this briefcase being a bomb. President Obama jumped at the opportunity to pick the side of the media manufactured, ‘oppressed’ minority over the safety of the local school children. Obama held up Ahmed as an inspiring, minority genius for the country to behold, and he even had him visit the White House.
Aided by the reinforcement of the President of the United States, Ahmed’s family attempted to sue the Texas school district, the principal of the high school, and the city of Irving. This callous family has total disregard for their fellow community’s tax payers and for the implementation of the zero tolerance policy designed to ensure child safety. Fortunately, the court dismissed their case, and instead, their lawsuit has backfired completely. “Now that the lawsuit has been dismissed, the AFLC is petitioning the court for lawyer fees and sanctions against Clock Boy’s dad.”
Shooting of Michael Brown
In the summer of 2014, 18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, MO by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, sparking a nationwide backlash that has pitted segments of communities against one another. The aftermath of this backlash has left stores burned to the ground, lives lost due to riots, and even murders of police officers in other states as retaliatory actions taken against police in general. How did President Obama react to the situation? Did he call for an immediate end to the violence? Did he calm the mob, and remind the nation to wait for the facts to come out through the investigation and trust in the verdict delivered by the courts?
Nope. Instead, much like the ‘clock boy’ situation, Obama chose a side. He said, “a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement…too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black…” Thanks Obama! As our first African American president, Barack Obama was in a unique position to bring credible persuasion to heal the wounds in both the law enforcement departments and Ferguson community at large. Instead, he used his power of influence to cast early judgement on law enforcement. The result fomented even greater anger at police across the nation. In turn, the ‘Ferguson Effect’ grew.
Since Michael Brown, American cities have seen a decreased presence of proactive law enforcement. This is known as the Ferguson Effect. The effect is one of significant increases in violent crime in those communities due to the lack of police presence that lingers to this day.
Had Obama avoided the mob, he wouldn’t have landed on the wrong side of history. After a rigorous investigation, Darren Wilson was sparred of criminal charges. Even Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, added that the report was “fair and rigorous from the start,” and if you disagree with this verdict you need “to read the report in full.”
The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, was hyped up for its assurance that all Americans are covered by healthcare. This legislation was to be President Barack Obama’s crowning achievement. He expressed that “the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see.” According to Obama, this law was to be praised by Americans for its positive effects that would be felt for generations.
Only, this law did not last generations; it didn’t even last a decade. With the American people so enormously dissatisfied with their limited options and increased premiums, the people have demanded it’s repeal. On January 11, 2017, “Senators voted 51-48 to approve a budget resolution that Republicans will use as a vehicle to speed through repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”
Obama stated at least a half of a dozen times on national television during his election campaign and shortly after being sworn in that he would close Guantanamo Bay while president.
When interviewed on 60 Minutes on December 13, 2009, Steve Kroft asked, “There are a number of different things that you can take action on early pertaining to Executive Orders. One of them is to shut down Guantanamo Bay, another is to change interrogation methods that are used by U.S. troops. Are those things that you plan to take early action on?”
Obama replied, “Yes. I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture; I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture.” ‘Follow through,’ he did not.
The Obama administration is acknowledging publicly for the first time that he will be unable to fulfill this core campaign promise. Although it’s long been clear that President Obama would not be able to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison, the White House had continued to maintain that he was working toward closing it.
You judge a tree by it’s fruits. Obama’s presidency has left the nation more divided on racial issues, twice as much in debt than all previous presidents combined, and the only change that America felt was the loss of hope that this president was going to be different.