President Obama: More Than Meets the Eyes
by Vanessa Davis Griggs


At the end of the day, can you look yourself in the mirror and be okay with the person who looks back at you? Can you say every single time, that you’ve done the right thing…made all correct decisions?

Well, on a daily basis that’s the question President Barack Obama has to answer with every decision facing him on behalf of America (I’d dare say the world, since what we do in the United States can and does affect the world). Can I say I agree with everything that he’s does? No, I can’t. But then, I don’t agree with every decision I make or have made in my life. Even after weighing everything and going with what appears to be the best plan, our best plan can harbor its own set of problems.

I voted for Barack Obama for president. Not because he was black, but because I was moved by what I believed, as president, he’d do. I was tired of politics as usual and although a politician, there was something different about him. So much so, that for the first time in my life, I volunteered, donated money, and did what I could to help get him elected.

The first time I heard his name, I said, "Why do black men always change their names to something like this?" I soon learned that Barack and Obama were his birth names, and I respected him the more. I dare say a less secure person, with political aspirations, might have changed their name.

Before Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, our country faced major challenges, domestically and abroad.  Economists said we were on the brink of a second Great Depression. Abroad, the United States was viewed mostly unfavorably. Even before taking office, President Obama began working to stop the excessive bleeding of jobs, collapse of companies and financial institutions, and afterward, attempted to repair the distrust and to reset relations with people around the world.

In the black community, we have a saying: "We must do twice as much work just to get equal credit." Every time I hear a Fox News’ pundit or Republicans lie about President Obama being Muslim (he’s not; he’s Christian), a socialist (untrue), not born in America (crazy talk, he was born in Hawaii), or criticize him when he does anything other than work 24/7 (someone please tell them that slavery has been abolished), that’s what I think about. And growing up in the South, I know "code words" when I hear them. When they say, "President Obama doesn’t have a birth certificate" (it’s been provided and verified) the translation is: "We’re not sure how it happened because we never thought it would in our lifetime, but we elected a black president." I’m quite familiar with racism. I just wish we could all move on and work together to do even greater things for our country.

President Obama has accomplished much since taking office. This after fighting with those who vigorously oppose almost everything he attempts to do. Personally, I was excited about the prospect of healthcare reform. Was I disappointed that there wasn’t a public option? Yes, because I feel true competition is needed and frankly, I don’t believe the insurance companies will do that but instead will conspire and rig the system. At times, I’ve wanted President Obama to fight more, but I’m resolved that he’s not the same type of fighter we’re used to. Under pressure, somehow he always manages to remain cool. Who wants a panicking leader? Not me.

I’ve seen how far some will go to cause President Obama to fail. If he says the sky is blue, they’ll argue it’s pitch-black. No matter what he says, they’re going to take the opposite view. This was proven yet again recently when folks like Newt Gingrich said they would immediately enact a no-fly zone in Libya. But as soon as President Obama did just that, he was slammed by those same folks for doing it.

It’s sad that people are willing to hurt our country in an attempt to cause President Obama to fail or to lose the next election. President Obama loves this country. Anybody else might have walked away from all of this nonsense, but President Obama isn’t a quitter. And what he’s doing now will impact generations to come. He’s willing to go the distance, compromising when necessary, but refusing to kick cans down the road.

Addressing our actions of a no-fly zone in Libya and on Moammar Qadhafi, President Obama said, "We’ve accomplished the objectives we set at the outset of our military operations." Many have questioned why Libya? Why not Yemen…Syria? Why Libya when this wasn’t done for Rwanda and Darfur? The tragedies in Darfur and Rwanda took place under other presidents. It’s been said, "Those who don’t learn from history or doomed to repeat it." No, President Obama isn’t operating under a doctrine (at least not at this point). He analyzes the situation, hears from all sides, then makes a decision. President Obama doesn’t shoot first and ask questions later. Instead, he measures twice and cuts once.

Early in the Libyan unrest, many said that President Obama needed to say something against Qadhafi. They accused him of being weak and indecisive when he didn’t do it strongly enough. But President Obama was working to ensure American citizens were safely evacuated from Libya before he came out strong. And he worked to create a coalition with the international community so this wouldn’t be a unilateral operation. President Obama receives intelligence others don’t. So I dare hesitate to second-guess decisions made on things I don’t know.

Many ask should we even be involved; we’re in two wars already (one I totally disagreed with). But do we turn a blind eye, pretend it’s okay for a dictator clearly not in touch with reality to massacre people as he declares his intent to "show no mercy" to those who merely want to be treated fairly and to know freedom? Should we care? When the holocaust was happening, how many declared it wasn’t their problem? Are there things the United States can and should do to help when possible? Honestly, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But I’ve watched President Obama play 3D chess while others were merely playing checkers.

I’ll continue to pray for our President, for the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect and defend our country (one being my son), and pray for America. No, we can’t be the savior for the world. But I believe when it comes to some things, we should do what we can, if and when we can. Otherwise, how do you look yourself in the mirror? But then, maybe it’s just me, and I can respect that.