When seasons change it is rarely dramatic, but rather it is gradual. We sense a difference before we realize it. And so it has been with President Obama. There has been a change in the man during these last several months. He has spoken with greater clarity, acted with greater boldness and he has transformed his vision into deeds. As the noted poet James Brown might have said:
He ain’t no drag
Papa’s got a brand new bag
Let’s look at the facts. For over a half century this country has pursued the bizarre policy of trying to isolate and destroy Cuba. This policy has been adhered to by Republican and Democratic administrations even while alliances have been forged with countries that have no love for the United States, China and Russia come to mind, and with countries with a bloody and painful history for Americans, Vietnam, Germany and Japan certainly come to mind.
Through much of his presidency Barack Obama has sought to reason with the adherents of embargo and persuade the Cuba deniers. And then, a few months ago, he directed that this country commence formal diplomatic relations with Cuba. And now there will be an American embassy in Havana and a Cuban embassy in Washington. He just did it.
He’s not too fancy but his line is pretty clean
Here’s another fact. When President Obama spoke at the funeral services in Charleston after the Mother Emanuel Massacre, he did something that no American president has ever done. He referenced the Confederate flag and pointed out the obvious, it stands for cause of the preservation and protection of white supremacy and racial slavery and that cause was wrong.
It is not clear which is more amazing – that it took over 150 years for an American president to state the obvious or that President Obama abandoned subtlety on a matter of race and spoke the truth plain and simple. In any event, he just did it.
Don’t play him cheap ’cause you know he ain’t shy
Even before he was elected president, Barack Obama had championed the cause of criminal justice reform. But, with too many in Congress still repeating the failed and hoary mantra of “tough on crime”, no real legislative changes have taken place. But now, President Obama has commuted the sentences of scores of non-violent drug offenders who have been serving decades in prison while killers and robbers and rapists have gone in and out of prison during their time of incarceration. And by commuting these sentences President Obama has sent a clear message that criminal justice reform simply must become a reality.
He’s doing the Fly ev’ry day and ev’ry night
Most recently, upon the announcement of the nuclear arms treaty with Iran, a reporter sought to depict President Obama as “celebrating the treaty while Americans were still languishing in Iranian prisons”. The president spoke truth to the goad and told the reporter that his question was “nonsense” although one could tell that a more graphic and barnyard epithet was very close to the surface. In the past President Obama might have endured yet another in the cavalcade of insults that have passed his way over the past six years, but this time he responded in kind. He just did it.
These changes in President Obama are historically important and will in turn change the way that the presidency functions in the future. He just did it.
Papa’s got a brand new bag