"Reach for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land in the stars!"
These words appear on a sign outside a nearby elementary school. They apply to President Obama's presidency as he departs.
To be respectful, objective and thorough in evaluating eight years of Obama in office, this commentary is a little lengthier since a breezy, superficial treatment doesn't serve us or Mr. Obama well. Let's begin.
Barack Obama believes his presidency has been a success. Speaking recently before a sea of "standing o" supporters in Chicago, he beamed as he rehearsed what he views as his landmark achievements: Iran accord; recession "recovery"; outreach to Cuba; Bin Laden capture; ObamaCare; and, "unleashing the longest stretch of job creation in our history."
He used his rhetorical skills to also highlight climate change advances; "race relations better than they were 10, 20 or 30 years ago;" and "healthcare costs rising at the slowest rate in 50 years."
His farewell address was longer than that of Reagan, Clinton and G.W. Bush combined. He referenced himself 75 times. He tearfully concluded, assuring us that "America is a better, stronger place" igniting the throngs to shout along with him, "Yes we can! Yes we did! Yes we can!"
Question: Is it possible for leaders to project prosperity and peace while it's contrary to reality? Of course! Jeremiah 8:11b exposes officials saying, "'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace."
I'm convinced Barack Obama believes it when he says. "By almost every measure, the country is better off than when we started!" Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he's unaware of the scriptural admonition, "Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips" (Prov. 27:2).
Others identify more with the Wall Street Journal's editorial, "[Barack Obama's] presidency has been a disappointment at home and abroad, a fact ironically underscored by Mr. Obama's relentless insistence that he has been a success" (Jan. 9, 2017).
In his "hope and change" pledge to "unify us" and "fundamentally transform America," he certainly reached for the moon, did land among the stars but the time has come to evaluate his record.
This following evaluation of our 44th president is not personal but based on his policies and performance. I prayed for him every single day (encouraging others to do likewise) yet can't concur with how he sees himself and his legacy.
Dealing With Reality
Have you ever faced a situation in management where your team affirmed qualities in a well-liked co-worker yet had to face the reality of incompetence? Someone can be generous, friendly, have a beautiful family—yet doesn't get the job done? As gut-wrenching as it is, the person has to be let go.
In our case, the person is not Obama, who can't run again, but his "anointed" successor, viewed as an extension of himself and his policies. America overwhelmingly said, "No mas!" This follows eight years of his party losing almost 1,000 State House seats, 12 governorships, 13 Senate seats and 69 House seats.
Leadership is about real results. When Alabama lost to Clemson in the recent national championship game, their coach, Nick Saban, retained his proven record of five national championships. Alabama's football program was 67-55 in the decade before he arrived. His record is 119–19 these past 10 years.
Because millions have an emotional attachment to Obama and others want to avoid bigotry charges, his approval rating stays high. Yet the reality is this: Much of what President Obama did is not going to survive this next presidency, some not even the next month. Therefore, it behooves us to carefully look at his record and learn lessons for future generations.
Ten Areas to Assign Grades
Jerry Seinfield said, "Obama was the coolest guy to hold this office."
Let's go deeper, looking through the lens of Scripture and measure fruit, as Jesus taught, with a biblical worldview.
God directs us to be faithful stewards of finances (Luke 16:11) and steer clear of debt (Rom.13:8). We do not want to foist upon our children and grandchildren an avalanche of debt that crushes them.
Obama pledged to reduce the national debt one-half by the time he ended his first term in office. Instead he allowed it to double from $10 trillion to $20 trillion by his lack of leadership regarding reckless spending, entitlements and waste. Forty-seven percent of America's more than 200-year debt has been accumulated during these past eight years.
2. Recession "Recovery"
God commands us to be truthful and not lie (Ex. 20:16). While wages have been stagnant for eight years, Obama's administration uses cleverly worded statements to camouflage facts, confuse the unsuspecting and convey the impression that the "propped up" economy is roaring. The number of people on food stamps exploded from 30 million when Obama started to 46.5 million. A record 93 million Americans are not in the labor force, and home ownership is at a 48-year low.
His $831 billion "Stimulus Package" doled out millions to automakers encumbered with pensions; gave $535 million for the boondoggle Solyndra, the solar-powered manufacturer that went bankrupt; $1.3 million for road signs hailing the success of the Stimulus Package; plus millions in wasteful spending for so-called "shovel ready projects" that never materialized.
3. Health Care
ObamaCare is a disaster and will be repealed. God commands us not to lie, yet Obama promoted ObamaCare with what has been called the biggest lie of the decade that, "You can keep your doctor and you'll save money." Twelve out of 23 co-ops failed at a cost of $1.2 billion. Seven hundred forty thousand Americans have been forced to find new health insurance. As foretold, premiums and deductibles skyrocketed amidst calls for more and more government subsidies. Obama's "affordable healthcare" is not affordable but a total disaster.
4. National Security and Terrorism
Government's God-ordained role is to protect its citizens (Rom.13:1-6), yet our president's track record here is appalling as he refused to identify ISIS as the world's greatest threat, deflecting us to climate change instead. Telling us that "ISIS is not Islam," "They are a JV squad" and are "being contained," all the while they advanced globally and in our nation. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finally threw up his hands and declared, "Obama is the greatest national security threat to ever occupy the White House."
Withdrawing our troops from the Middle East prematurely and contrary to our military adviser's counsel brought about the birth of ISIS, hundreds of thousands of innocents were slaughtered, irreplaceable holy sites were demolished and a heartbreaking refugee crisis resulted as migrants fled to Europe with multitudes dying and families devastated.
5. Illegal Immigration
God calls to care for immigrants and orphans, but He established borders (Acts 17:26) and required the immigrant to keep the laws of the land just like the native people (Ex. 12:48-49; Ex. 23:12). Jesus made it crystal-clear: "Truly, truly I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber" (John 10:1). When people argue, "We need to bring people out of the shadows," there is a reason law-breakers are there in the first place. Jesus also said, "For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20).
Refusing to act responsibly to protect our nation from illegal immigrants, drug transporters and sex traffickers, our president promoted open borders and amnesty for any and all while guaranteeing privileges and entitlements. Laws were disregarded and lives endangered by his feckless approach. Add to this powder keg, hundreds of sanctuary cities that emerged where lawless officials ignored the safety of citizens and protected illegal criminals.
One of the primary reasons for the unprecedented popularity of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate was that tens of millions of Americans resonated with his message of stopping illegal immigration, establishing a fair and compassionate pathway to citizenship and building a wall already on the books but not enforced.
6. Race Relations, Inner Cities and the Poor
Jesus told us the poor will always be with us (Matt. 26:11) and that we are to be charitable and help "the least of these" (Matt. 25:35-40).
Unfortunately, the economic situation for the poor and minorities has not improved but deteriorated under Barack Obama's leadership. The racial divide has deepened as "a mere 25 percent think the racial situation has moved forward." Fifty-six percent believe we've lost ground on crime and 52 percent in race relations.
Racial division between citizens and law enforcement has been scandalous, fostered in part by suspicions sown by this president's example in welcoming divisive race-baiter Al Sharpton repeatedly into the White House. Black Lives Matter anarchists and advocates of police assassinations have been welcomed as well. Mr. Obama's propensity to "rush to judgment" in Florida with Trayvon Martin, in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere was inexcusable and further inflamed racial tensions.
Education in the inner cities remains dismally poor while drugs and distribution prosper due to lax law enforcement. President Obama minimized marijuana usage and orchestrated the release of multitudes of criminal drug dealers for their "mistakes." His actions communicated a clear message undermining parents and police working to stop the drug epidemic.
7. Military Strength, Readiness and Morale
Under President Obama's leadership, there has been inadequate funding and clear-cut weakening of our United States Armed Forces. There were massive reductions in military equipment and personnel, leaving us dangerously vulnerable in the event of a crisis.
Military frustration is at the highest level in decades. "There's a level of dissatisfaction among the uniformed military that I've never seen in my time here," said John McCain, Senate Armed Services Chairman.
The most recent survey showed U.S. service members have an overwhelmingly negative view of Obama: 60 percent of the Marines, 53 percent of the Army, 50 percent of the Air Force and 46 percent of the Navy.
The Obama Administration promoted the "gayification" of our Armed Forces, and we've seen repeated undermining of religious expression among our military chaplains and officers.
8. Marriage and Family
Romans 1:18-27 outlines the decline of a culture that celebrates homosexuality.
President Obama's aggressive advocacy of the LGBTQ homosexual agenda has brought devastation to the future of the traditional family. He endorsed and celebrated gay "marriage," violated the safety of young girls by forcing school districts to allow boys who identify as girls to have full access to the girls locker rooms and showers, undermined the Defense of Marriage Act, honored the LGBTQ lifestyle by affirming people "coming out" and appointing unprecedented numbers of LGBTQ proponents to government positions and endorsed efforts to ban "conversion therapy" counseling (sharing the transformative power of the gospel) for confused youth struggling with gay and transgender issues.
Capitalizing on his influence as the most powerful person in our nation, Barack Obama worked aggressively to transform marriage, sexuality and our children into considering participation in the LGBTQ lifestyle as a normal, healthy way of life. His official White House website touted efforts to stop counseling young people struggling with same-sex attraction and transgenderism as "protecting America's youth."
9. Relations with Cuba, Iran and Israel
President Obama lifted the embargo on Cuba and hails it as a major foreign-policy achievement. He failed to gain significant concessions while normalizing relations with this communist country where imprisonment and persecution of dissidents continues unabated.
God warns of serious judgment for dishonoring Israel (Gen. 12:2-3) and daring to divide what He calls "My land" (Joel 3:1-2). Iran meanwhile has repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel.
In seeking office, Barack Obama emphatically stated he would never allow Iran, the world's No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism, a nuclear bomb. His "Iran Deal" is viewed as the greatest foreign-policy disaster in history and endangers Israel, the Middle East and America. As Tehran has repeatedly been caught violating terms of the so-called agreement, President-elect Trump has pledged to nullify this "deal".
Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and our strongest ally. President Obama has repeatedly alienated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his most recent betrayal of Israel in the United Nations' attempt to divide the land was seen as a last-minute backstabbing, unwarranted and uncalled for at this critical time.
10. Moral Integrity
The president of the United States has a responsibility to demonstrate character and integrity in his exalted position. Friend and spiritual adviser to half a dozen presidents, Dr. Billy Graham, said, "In a society which too often places a great premium on cleverness, materialism and greed, our greatest need is moral integrity."
Sadly, Barack Obama has let us down significantly here by his example, especially in his pattern of not telling the whole story to gain credit for himself as well as not telling the truth in situation after situation. The influence of Saul Alinsky and his Rules for Radicals (dedicated to Lucifer!) instilled in him these ungodly principles which justify deception to accomplish goals.
One glaring example is his taking credit and emphasizing his achievement of capturing and killing bin Ladin. Even the uber-liberal Washington Post called him out on this in an excellent article entitled, "The Path to Osama bin Laden's Death Didn't Start with Obama."
Another is highlighted by David Axelrod, his former senior adviser, who revealed Obama's unconscionable lie in his book, Believer: My 40 Years in Politics. He described how the president crisscrossed the nation and told countless millions of children, young people and adults that he stood for marriage between one man and one woman and opposed homosexual marriage. He deliberately deceived us about his position on the most hallowed institution in human history.
Personally, I feel like I entered "La La Land" Sunday evening when I tuned into 60 Minutes and heard him shamelessly boasting, "We're probably the first administration in modern history that hasn't had a major scandal in the White House." It was all just "P.R. problems," he said.
This is blatantly untrue.
President Obama's lack of integrity has had a corrosive effect on our nation and influenced others to follow in his footsteps. He has made so many dishonest statements regarding gay marriage, Muslims' role in establishing America, ObamaCare, Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservatives, Bowe Bergdall, NSA spying and others that my wife and I couldn't bring ourselves to watch Mr. Obama's farewell address.
God outlines seven sins He hates and only one is repeated, "a lying tongue ... a false witness who speaks lies" (Prov. 6:17b, 19a).
After pledging to protect all Americans yet ignoring millions of unborn babies exterminated through abortion (recall his "God bless you" speaking to Planned Parenthood?). He also falsely promised us "the most transparent administration."
I'm afraid I have no other alternative but to place here my final grade: F
Here's the deal: Although I thank President Obama for his service, marriage, family and sincere desire to bring about a "fundamental transformation of America," I strongly disagree with his unbiblical worldview while promising to continue praying for him. He will one day give an account for every action he performed and even every word he spoke (Matt. 12:36).
Nat Hentoff, brilliant historian, author and distinguished columnist for The Wall Street Journal died Jan. 7 at the age of 91. His insightful assessment of Barack Obama shouldn't be taken lightly: "He is possibly the "most dangerous and destructive president we've ever had."
Jim DeMint, former U.S. Senator from South Carolina and president of the Heritage Foundation, adds the following: "Our deeply held religious beliefs have been a great inconvenience to the president. Just ask the nuns whom his administration tried to bully into providing drugs they didn't want or need: If they taught school, they'd probably give President Obama a failing grade, too." (USA Today Jan. 10, 2017).
What do you say?
Larry Tomczak (Website) is a best-selling author, cultural commentator, 40 year board member for Intercessors for America, and public policy advisor with Liberty Counsel. His new, innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see The Bullseye Challenge). Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.
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