Loser, lame duck, figurehead at the White House – that is what Barack Obama has been called at Fox News after the November elections, in which Republicans gained the majority in both houses of Congress. The right-wing columnists were outshouting each other in their prognosis that the president would not achieve anything else and that he will only wait passively until the 2016 elections. Similar comments could be heard on different TV stations as well – unsatisfyingly so.
Recent approval ratings have been far from satisfactory for Obama. He has even been abandoned by his own party. During the last elections, some Democrat candidates did not want to publicly admit whether they had voted for Obama or not.
Only six weeks later, the mood at Fox News has totally changed. Now Obama is being respected again – more or less. Now he is “unpredictable” and “behaves like a mad dog off the leash.”*
These statements are not totally out of place. Six weeks ago Obama underwent a shocking change. It is easy to figure out the reasons – for the first time in his political career, Obama has nothing to lose. He will not run in the next elections. He does not need to cajole the Republicans – they will not cooperate with him anyway. The Democrats cannot lose the Congress, because they have already lost it – in their biggest defeat since World War II.
However this seemingly hopeless situation has restored a sense of freedom to Obama, and we are talking about absolute freedom, which is rarely achieved by ordinary people, not to mention presidents. During the six weeks of his free flight, Obama – to the growing dismay of Republicans – has signed an agreement with China concerning the reduction of greenhouse gasses, granted legal status and work permits to five million illegal immigrants and decided that communist Cuba, after 54 years, is no longer America’s enemy. An embassy is going to open in Havana, and Americans will be able to travel to Cuba and even bring Cuban cigars and rum back to the United States.
“We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in,” Obama said.
This argument is hard to challenge. However, as Republicans reasonably put it, the decree is controversial from a procedural point of view. The president stated that Congress has not allotted enough money to deport all 12 million illegal immigrants, and therefore he must prioritize whom to deport. Thus he decided that those who have a child who is a U.S. citizen will not be deported. “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids, ” he said.
On restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba, Obama said, “When a strategy — any strategy — is tried for half a century and fails utterly, the next step seems obvious: Change it. Try something new.” said Obama, on restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba.
“It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. Even if that worked -– and it hasn’t for 50 years –- we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos,” he said.
The right wing wonders – in panic – what else Obama is going to do for the remaining two years of his presidency. And the left wing is delighted: suddenly it sees the same, charismatic senator, who, in autumn 2008, captivated America and the world with the promise of “change.” The one who promised that he would not play procrastination games like all his predecessors.
When Sony Pictures, after the threats of hackers, cancelled the premiere of a comedy mocking the leader of communist North Korea, Obama stated: “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”
The politician is dead; long live the human! One can even notice the change within Obama by his behavior. He seems more youthful. He has become more laid back and smiley, which was noticeable during Friday’s conference summing up the year 2014. After the introduction, he pulled out a small card and said: “Now I will answer some questions, before heading off to Hawaii. My spokesman has indicated here who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.”*
* Editor’s note: The original quotations, accurately translated, could not be verified.
About this publication