President Barack Obama, Reader

 

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Last fall in the UK, a cheeky young man lectured me on American politics and criticized Obama.

I was taken aback, but I mentioned a few of Obama’s achievements. And I added, “We’re really going to miss Obama.  I mean we’re really, really going to miss him.”

Count the number of “really”s. It isn’t hyperbole. I mean it.

Obama is the best president of our lifetime. Well, whom else would we pick?

What impressed me most?  The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Americans at least have (had) a shot at visiting doctors. Illness is terrible.  Can you even see a doctor without insurance?  There is always much presenting of cards and Xeroxing them.  And without insurance, the cost of medication is shocking :  one pill can cost $100 or more.  Hence the number of  homeless people tragically off their meds.  How many middle-class, lower-middle-class, and lower-class deaths could be prevented by affordable medication?

What else do I like about Obama?  Well, he is a great reader. The act of reading, the absorption of  ideas, history, and literature, is a spur to the imagination. He is also a pro-education president who wanted to make community colleges free.

My husband and I intended to send him a thank-you card, but alas…we didnt!

We will miss him.

Things are changing drastically already.  Unfortunately, even the media are changing.  NPR is obsequiously going “red” (as in Republican), unless it was just an off night.   I do not listen to NPR for interviews with Republican college professors and whiny businessmen who want to underpay their employees.  Is this what it’s come to?

Oh, well, it’s only four years.  If we cannot support NPR, we’ll give more to Planned Parenthood, the Food Bank, the American Lung Association, NARAL, NAMI, the APL, and the Democrats.

And Obama fans will enjoy a fascinating article in The New York Times, “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books,”in which Michiko Kakutani interviews him about his reading.

Here is an excerpt from Kakutani’s  Critics’ Notebook piece about the interview.  (You can also read the whole transcript.)

“At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted,” he said, reading gave him the ability to occasionally “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes.” These two things, he added, “have been invaluable to me. Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say. But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”…

Other novels served as a kind of foil — something to argue with. V. S. Naipaul’s novel “A Bend in the River,” Mr. Obama recalls, “starts with the line ‘The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.’ And I always think about that line and I think about his novels when I’m thinking about the hardness of the world sometimes, particularly in foreign policy, and I resist and fight against sometimes that very cynical, more realistic view of the world. And yet, there are times where it feels as if that may be true.”

15 thoughts on “President Barack Obama, Reader

  1. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. My heart was pounding and my mind racing. I’m not sure if we can get through four years of this. Wasn’t his farewell speech wonderful? I’m going to miss him terribly.

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  2. While the affordable care act wasn’t possible for my family since it was too expensive. $550 a month for a family of three, plus every thing else that makes living in New York a tight rope experience. I will miss Pres. Barack’s elegance, grace under pressure, his dedication to family. The country will miss his intellect, his every man vibe, his openness. I will miss Mrs. Obama and the girls; showing America that all families have the same hopes, wishes, and goals. Let’s be honest Mr. Obama is a miraculous man, if not his exploits would have been posted somewhere long ago. He’s not a cheater, womanizer, he has been open about his economic holdings.

    Years from now he will be remembered, admired, and for some communities, cherished.

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    • Sorry the Affordable Care Act didn’t work out for you. It’s hard for me to imagine how expensive NY is. Yes, Obama is brilliant, a good speaker, and a role model. They did not attack him personally (or, of that happened, I wasn’t aware of it).

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      • They have attacked both Mr. and Mrs. Obama; saying things I won’t repeat. I wish he had done more for education. Most inner city schools, have so much less than affluent communities, it seems like Jim Crow never left. Teachers have 30 at risk students in one room with no support. Eight years did not change that for my state. Teachers are maligned in the media; for working within the impossible. Great article. Visit me https://www.bronxbeyondborders.com. Cheers.

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  3. I couldn’t agree with you more, Kat. Barack Obama is a man of rare dignity and class and intelligence. I’m sad that there are those who seemed to have entirely missed this rare experience. I think we survive the next four years by the grace of God and because we stand bravely for what is good and just.

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  4. Thank you! I agree with you. Obama might have become even greater if he were not obstructed every which way by the congress. I am very grateful for what he accomplished and sad that dismantling it seems to be a top priority. And outraged that numero uno birther sits in the office.

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