By Bill Juneau
[Editor's Note: Former Chicago reporter and editor Bill Juneau reflects on a national phenomenon who, unlike other former U.S. presidents, still maintains a residence in our nation's capital.]
We frequently hear news of former President Obama and of his life and activities in his 11.75 million dollar waterfront home in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Barack and his wife, Michelle were not so long ago just ordinary folk with ordinary incomes, but today their combined worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe even a billion — and growing. It all came about in a relatively few years after he became the anointed Democrat hailing from the Windy City of Illinois.
Back in 2016, as he was completing his second term in the White House, I wrote the following profile on Obama and his life and legacy as I saw it. He was the country's first African American President, notching big space in the history books. Perhaps his White House days are worth remembering.
Barack Obama rose from his work as a "community organizer" in Chicago to become President of the United States. His mentor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a pastor who preached denunciation of Jews and disdain for America; and his friends included the notorious Bill Ayers who backed him in his run for public offices. Ayers was a radical opponent of the Viet Nam War and organized the underground "Weathermen," an organization which bombed the Capitol building and the Pentagon in Washington in protest of the war. To this day, Ayers is classified by the FBI as a domestic terrorist.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley selected the smooth talking, Harvard educated Obama as his water boy, and then backed him in his election as a member of the Illinois Legislature and then as United States Senator. You could say that Obama was "ordained" by the powerful Democratic machine of Chicago. No other organization in the country carried the clout and power of Chicago Democrats, the organization that pushed John F. Kennedy into the oval office and also backed Jimmy Carter when his prospects appeared minimal. And of course, he had the backing of Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, who spoke elegantly of Obama and referred to him as a "messiah."
In 2004, as a little-known Illinois senator, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic national convention, and his style and bold passionate delivery garnered for him national attention. In his speech, he asserted, to heavy applause, that "there is not a liberal America and there is not a conservative America. There is the United States of America." Obama was articulate and pleasant looking, and the fact that he was an African American was of strong appeal to a country worn out by its long history of racial tensions. It was the beginning for Obama, a man who promised he could help America heal and remove racial animus, and who pledged to move the country forward as a strong and exceptional nation.
As a presidential candidate in 2008, he boasted to Americans of his talents and ability to speak with our enemies and to persuade them of our good will. We will offer a handshake rather than a closed fist, he said. He told of being a Christian who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ and of his belief in marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Asked when he believed that life begins, is it at conception? Obama said that because of his pay grade, he was not equipped to answer that question.
And the nation applauded as the first African American was elected President, affirming that racism and slavery days had died and were forever buried. Life-long Republican and military icon Gen. Colin Powell hailed the Obama election as "historical," and said the nation had elected the right person in these difficult times.
But America was hoodwinked. What Americans wanted and what America got were like day and night. The new President promptly demonstrated an innate disdain for all conservative values and called for the redistribution of wealth. He promoted a huge increase in spending so that national debt ballooned from the $10.6 trillion at his inauguration to nearly nearly $19 trillion in 2015.
He opened up the food stamp program which now serves 47 million persons. He eviscerated America's military strength to the level of readiness which existed prior to the beginning of World War II. His comments as to race served to aggravate tensions and he blamed Caucasians and racist policemen for wrongdoing and mistreating and mishandling situations in which Black men were involved.
Obama had assured Americans that he was a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ, yet he has looked the other way at the beheading of religious persons and declined to call out radical Islam for its savagery and hate. In fact, this President has declined to even say the words "radical Islam," apparently believing that this characterization of the enemy would somehow offend his Muslim friends, many of whom are in his administration.
Obama had been raised in Indonesia and attended Muslim schools and practiced the religion of his father and his fanatical step father. He has never explained his "conversion" to Christianity, and 50 million Americans are said to believe that Obama is more Muslim than Christian. In his travels, Obama has given credence to this belief by bowing to mullahs, and visiting mosques, one of which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. He has spoken of his reverence and respect for Islam and the holy month of Ramadan.
One of his closest advisers, Valarie Jarrett, is an outspoken Muslim, as are others in his inner circle of friends. He has endorsed and promoted the appointment of a Muslim woman as a judge and she was sworn into office with her hand on the Koran.
With control of both the Senate and the House, President Obama pushed through a health care program which has been tagged "Obamacare." Not a single Republican voted in favor of the new program. The President promised Americans "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; and if you like your health care plan which you have, you can keep that plan." Those declarations were simply not true, and Obamacare drove up the cost of health care premiums and deductibles for millions. After the bill was passed and the law went into effect, it was acknowledged by Congressmen that no one had ever read the terms of the law.
By what he has said and from decisions he has made, it is abundantly clear that he is incapable of functioning as Commander-in-Chief of the military forces. He has never served as a member of the military, and has never exhibited genuine respect or admiration for men and women who wear the uniform of their country. He seems to view the cuts to military air power, sea power and man power as a portal to making friends with hostile nations. Despite continued objections from members of Congress, he is forcing a reduction of defense spending at the rate of $40 billion annually through the year 2022. He has in fact eviscerated the military so that its manpower and readiness is as it was before the beginning of World War II.
Without any doubt, Israel is America's only genuine friend and ally in the Middle East. Yet, Obama's support of the Prime Minister is open to doubt as he seeks to please the theocracy of Iran, a country dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the extermination of all Jews. Iran has been designated by our state department as a primary supporter of terror in the world, yet Obama has allowed the lifting of all sanctions against the country along with giving its Islamic leaders $150 billion dollars in exchange for that nation's "promise" to not go forward with the building of atomic bombs for 10 years. It was a very bad deal made in an effort to please Iran, a nation which professes its hatred of America, which it labels, "The Great Satan."
Despite existing laws and the prohibition of negotiating with terrorists, Obama released five mad dog killers from Guantanamo prison in exchange for an American soldier who deserted his unit in Afghanistan and was willingly captured by the Taliban, America's savage enemy. That soldier is currently awaiting a court marshal trial accused of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Obama's National Security Adviser described the soldier on national television as a person who served his country with "honor and distinction."
He has dismissed as "workplace violence" the murder of 13 soldiers by a radicalized army major screaming "Allah is Great" in Fort Hood Texas; and he has displayed little emotion as Americans were beheaded by Muslim fanatics. Rather than prepare a plan to defeat the ISIS terrorists, Obama called for "containment" of the radical Islamic organization which he has defined as a JV (junior varsity) group.
He continues to blame the prior administration of President George W. Bush for domestic problems, but he does nothing and recommends nothing for Americans, including African Americans, who are worse economically than in past years. Seventy-five per cent of African American babies are born to single mothers every year, yet instead of using his office and bully pulpit to encourage and strengthen families, he praises same sex marriages and homosexual lifestyle. He has done a complete turn around on the meaning of "marriage" which he described when he ran for office in 2008 as a "union between one man and one woman."
Obama has said that he would bring about a "fundamental transformation of America," and he has certainly worked toward that end. He has made the country worse. But despite the Obama years, citizens remain optimistic that there will be better days ahead when Obama returns to Chicago's south side streets as a community organizer in January, 2017. There is hope for a new president who loves America and believes in it as an exceptional force for good in the world.And now it is 2021. No one believed that any American President would ever be worse than the two-faced Obama. But now we have the horse whispering "Slow Joe" Biden and he gets the ribbon, and his first minus to remember is the Afghanistan debacle.
Bill Juneau worked for 25 years as a reporter and night city editor at the Chicago Tribune. Subsequently he became a partner in a law firm and also served as a village prosecutor and as a consultant to the Cook County Circuit Court and to the Cook County Medical Examiner. He is currently writing columns and the 'Florida Bill' blog.