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EDITORIAL: Obama leaves office on a high note


BARBADOS NATION

EDITORIAL: Obama leaves office on a high note

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TOMORROW THE WORLD says goodbye to President Barack Obama who demits office after two terms as leader of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America. It has been a very significant period.

It was eight years in which he displayed dogged determination in pursuit of his agenda despite the hurdles he encountered. The hostility was not from the vast majority of Americans who rallied behind him in two elections, but the Republican political elite who were united in opposition even before he took office to obstruct his every move.

Obama was more than the leader of the US, but the pride of many across the world. He was a man who retained his poise and dignity even when facing the fury and onslaught of the resistance of those who never accepted a black man holding this high office.

The questions raised by his successor about whether he is truly American, and the downright nasty comments consistently made about First lady Michelle Obama, all tell a story. There were unprecedented efforts to tear down and besmirch their characters and objectives. Little wonder as he departs office, there is a rush to dismantle much of what he achieved.

Obama was not without his flaws, and some of his foreign policy initiatives could be questioned as downright failures, Libya and Syria being good examples. On the other hand, his re-establishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba was the right thing to do while his efforts to extend health care coverage to millions of Americans was accepted as a necessary initiative even if poorly executed.

His failure to get strident gun control laws in place was not his fault, but the actions of a powerful gun lobby supported by his political opponents.

There can be no denying his successes in several areas, even if not universally accepted. The classic case being the equal rights secured for lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. There was also the killing of marauding terrorists, including the infamous Bin Laden, which was applauded by even his vociferous opponents.

More important, have been his successes in handling the economy which in 2008 faced its greatest collapse since the Great Depression. He walks away from public office having brought the unemployment rate down to five per cent and overseeing the creation of 14 million jobs. At the same time, he has ensured minimum wages went up and signed on to a global climate change agreement, while overseeing the launch of the push for a cure for cancer.

Thankfully, Obama walked the straight and narrow road, never giving his opponents the chance to dig up any dirt. Little wonder, in a country where public opinion polls are so critical, that he will be leaving office with his ratings at 60 per cent, the highest levels since 2009.

President Barack Obama is a decent man. He will be missed.

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