PRESIDENCIES COMPARED: Obama vs. Reagan

Now that we’re into the wind-down phase of Obama’s presidency, we can judge how well he lived up to the hype.

“Hype.” Hyperbole. There was no shortage of it when Obama first swept onto the scene.

Do you remember?

Chris Matthews with those tingles down his leg? People weeping? That Peace Prize before he’d even truly served as President?

The hyperbole drummed up by his supporters (many of which pose as journalists), paled in comparison to the praise Obama heaped upon his own (future) achievements.

Do you remember the speech he gave us? That ode to himself the night he won the Primary?

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

He was supposed to be the Left’s antidote to the Reagan years.

How do they compare? Reagan and Obama. Each was held up as the foremost Champion of their party’s ideals — in living memory, anyway.

My nine hundred words wouldn’t begin to scratch the surface. But we can tease out a few comparisons, from a different angle than the standard comparisons.

Obama’s election was supposed to be a watershed moment in race relations. America was finally turning that proverbial page on sins of her past. Or so we were told.

So, how did they compare in race relations?

President Reagan heard about a cross-burning endured by Barbara and Phillip Butler five years earlier. He made headlines by visiting them in their home. Reagan stood alongside the family who had suffered injury, drew attention to a serious social problem, and named that crime as reprehensible.

Obama, on the other hand,  (Beer Summit, Trayvon, Ferguson) took a different approach with race relations. Where Reagan used events as an opportunity to take Americans (a collective group) beyond their petty differences and prejudices, Obama did not.

Obama inflamed tensions. Pointed fingers. Took sides. His instincts are not to see “e pluribus unum”, but vying factions (voting blocks?) within the greater group.  “If I had a son…”

Obama’s mind was made up, before police even began collecting their evidence; when addressing the world he actually equated Ferguson with the violence in the Middle East.

When a President talks this irresponsibly, why are we really surprised when cops get shot in the face?

Reagan is remembered for his foreign policy — tough when necessary — and helping bring the Soviet Era to a close.

Obama is remembered for bowing awkwardly to numerous world leaders, dithering while Putin annexed neighbors, and cheering the “freedom” that the Arab Spring brought to such places as Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria.

The (now fired) chairman of the Committee that awarded Obama’s Peace Prize said it would be “really nice” if Obama returned it.

Reagan loved America, and her people. He genuinely believed them to be exceptional. “A city on a hill” he often said.

Obama, used more guarded language: exceptional in the same ways that Britons and Greeks believe themselves to be exceptional.

Greece? Really — that great nation that threatened to drag the EU into insolvency, and most of the world’s banking with it — is somehow “exceptional” in the same way as America?

Possibly, he honestly fails to see greatness in his own nation.  (Michelle wasn’t proud of her country until she had become FLOTUS… and probably still isn’t.)

Might that explain his cynicism in relating to Americans?

“Let me be clear” is now Obama’s equivalent of “it depends what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”. A “tell” for obfuscation.

He addressed the World –with a straight face!– scapegoating an obscure video for Benghazi. Whereas Reagan — as a Statesman should —  identified his country’s greatest threat (the Soviet Red Army) and was prepared to face it.

But Obama can’t sort out friend from foe.

He cannot say “Islamic” and “Terror” in the same breath, even though moderate Muslims like Tarique Fateh are — so to speak — on a crusade to expose the jihadist threat (Does that make Fateh “Islamophobic”?).  

Violence done in Islam’s name is dismissed.  See: “High horse.”

How is it that Americans fear reprisal from Obama’s government (IRS, for instance, has been a cudgel for silencing political enemies.) while foreign powers do not?

How fitting that Obama’s “punch back twice as hard” quote was directed at American political rivals, but when Iran shot down a US drone, the official message was “a measured response”.

Obama denounces Israel, while striking deals with Iran. He cheers the Arab Spring, while the region erupts into flames.

To sum up:

Reagan loved Americans. He loved America. To him, Government is The Problem that often got in their way.

Obama, on the other hand,  loves government. He loves programs. And to him, Americans are The Problem that get in its way.

(See the difference?)

Obama has been keeping that promise to fundamentally transform America.

Now what shall we do to reverse it?

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22526649@N03/5524079409

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About the author: Wes Walker

Wes Walker is the author of "Blueprint For a Government that Doesn't Suck". He has been lighting up Clashdaily.com since its inception in July of 2012. Follow on twitter: @Republicanuck

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