Rising Above All Challenges (#14)
The challenges of September 2016, once again proved the true grit and grace of Barack Obama.
Since his election as the first African American President of the United States in January of 2009, Barack Obama has faced organized, fiercely committed, at times offensive, politically destructive, unrelentingly obstructionist, and openly racist opposition from the Republican Party and its supporters in America, the Country he was democratically elected to lead.
Getting little to no respect by nearly half the country after performing remarkably well considering the economic and foreign policy disasters he inherited from the Republican administration of George W. Bush, and the constant obstructionist acts of the Republicans in majority in the Senate and the Congress, his first term inexperience and the bad advice of his economic (ex Wall Street) advisors, Barack Obama conducted himself with the same aplomb he has demonstrated since, regardless of the tests and difficulties that were forced upon him by fate, inexperience, bad judgment, or by the ever hateful Republicans that had purposefully committed to give him no quarter, whatsoever in any area of endeavor.
In spite of the daily struggles in running the most grievously damaged yet the most powerful country in World, for two terms, Barack Obama has consistently earned greater approval by the majority of the global population and World leaders than by the majority of the American public, the political and business leaders, and the uncounted and generally unaccountable professional pundits and critics.
A lesser man would have folded under the constant pressure of trying to move his and his government’s agenda forward, being thwarted in every conceivable way by the opposition, and then being criticized for not performing for the same things he was not allowed to do.
But not Barack Obama.
Though undermined every step of the way, he has persisted admirably and effectively.
But all this undermining, racism, and open hostility in his own country has not gone unnoticed by those that oppose him and the US internationally, and not even by his allies. And, in our opinion, to a degree, it set the stage for what happened these past days. But as usual, Barack Obama stayed true to his character and rose above those that chose to take the low road.
Openly and crassly insulted by China at his arrival for the G20 Summit, he was publicly nonplussed, cool and classy as usual, and in being such, he diffused a potentially ugly international incident.
A lesser man, aware of being the most powerful, amongst all the world leaders attending, including of the host country, of the most powerful nation on earth, and already bruised by the constant slights, obstructions and injuries caused by his own countrymen, could have escalated the incident into an immediate need to assuage his bruised ego, and the pride of his country, by reacting in an intemperate way (as Trump said he would have done) and could have demanded an immediate public apology from the host country, and some manner of greater satisfaction.
But not Barack Obama, he kept his composure, let China look like the offending actor, and carried through with the job at hand, the G20 Summit of World leaders.
It was a show of amazing restraint for a man backed by such power and capability.
And again, a couple of days later, insulted in a vulgar manner by the newly elected President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, Obama handled the situation in a most detached and professional manner, changing course just enough to reprimand the boorish new President, but keeping cool and personally detached enough to meet him informally later to carry forward his agenda and their mutual business.
Again, in this instance in which the insult was more petty but more personal, Obama’s cool detachment made Duterte come out looking all the cruder, unprofessional and the greater fool.
We are not apologists for Barack Obama, but credit should be given where credit is due. We cannot imagine another World leader, especially one of such a powerful and aggressive country as the United States, being subjected to such open insults, reacting as coolly as Obama did.
In fact in the past meeting of World leaders in Australia, when Vladimir Putin felt he was being ostracized by the other World leaders, for the incursions into Ukraine, he left the meeting abruptly and went home.
Hats off to a most remarkable man that showed the World, and his own country, of what mettle the free World’s leader is, and should be, made up of.