The State of Our Union

| February 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

By

George Mitrovich

How can we know how life unfolds

When we cannot see the road

Through the mist of time the path unwinds

To the end of the road we go.

  • To The End of the Road by John McDermott

While watching President Obama’s last State of the Union address, I felt my emotions welling up and tears running down my cheeks, knowing the presidential road he has traveled is coming to an end.

With an Irish mother and Serbian father, emotions are a part of my DNA, but I have been around politics and government a long time and have heard thousands of political speeches and 55 State of the Union addresses without tearing up.

But even in that emotional moment, I understood my emotions.

As I watched our president deliver his final State of the Union, I was quite overwhelmed thinking about everything he’s gone through in his presidency. Knowing, among his 43 predecessors, not one had traveled his road, because they were white and he is black – and that difference goes infinitely beyond his skin color and theirs.

I think it will be extremely challenging for historians who chooses to chronicle the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama (and many will), because how does any historian judge his eight years as president without being influenced by his being the first black man in the Oval Office?

My question may strike you as ridiculous. Of course, he’s black. You know it. I know it. Historians know it, and that is the challenge they face – and that’s why my question is relevant, not ridiculous.

In my mind, while there’s no question Barack Obama, as a black man, has been judged unfairly, neither is there any question that others have been restrained in their criticism, also because he’s black.

But for everyone who has tempered their criticism of Mr. Obama during his presidential tenure because of his skin color, a great many more have reviled him for that very same reason.

Following Senator Obama’s election as president in 2008, I was at a reception in downtown San Diego, when the wife of a high-ranking Republican county official, came up to me, knowing I was a Democrat, because she wanted me to know Obama had not been born in America, and therefore had failed the Constitution’s requirement to be president.

I think it was the first time the president-elect’s being unborn in the USA had come to my attention; somehow I had missed that.

Of course, I thought the woman was slightly wacky. Little did I know her wackiness would metastasize and become a cancer on the body politic.

I must say here a harsh thing:

Anyone, anyone, who believes Barack Obama was not born in America qualifies for idiot status.

My philosophical side tugs at me constantly. It tells me either/or are few. But the question of the president’s place of birth is profoundly either/or. Either you accept that he was American born, or you do not, and if you do not then your idiot “status” is no longer in doubt; it is manifestly confirmed – and you need help.

The Birther Movement is race based, but because overt racism in polite circles is thought socially déclassé, a covert means was sought to remove its racist stigma, and thus was born the Birther True Believers.

I emphasize the Birther Movement because it was from the beginning a relentless campaign to smear Barack Obama; to call into question his legitimacy as president, from his first inauguration to his final State of the Union – and though twisted and deceitful, mean in spirit and immoral in conduct, the Birther crusade continues.

But perhaps my harsh judgment, calling you out as an ”idiot”, will be mollified knowing Donald Trump, among other prominent Republicans, also believes President Obama was not born in the USA; and it was Trump, of course, who hired “investigators” to travel to Honolulu, Obama’s “alleged” birthplace, to uncover the cover-up. (Does Donald Trump know Hawaii is a U.S. State?)

Now that Trump’s a serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, he has sought to downplay his role in the Birther Movement, but he can’t because he was its leader.

The Birther Movement is race based, but because overt racism in polite circles is thought socially déclassé, a covert means was sought to remove its racist stigma, and thus was born the Birther True Believers.

I emphasize the Birther Movement because it was from the beginning a relentless campaign to smear Barack Obama, to call into question his legitimacy as president, from his inauguration to his final State of the Union – and though twisted and deceitful, mean in spirit and immoral in conduct, the Birther crusade continues.

It was this effort to discredit Mr. Obama because of his skin color that so upset me. How was that possible in America? How could any decent human being, knowing the uncertainty that marked the president’s childhood, of growing up the son of a single white Kansas mother and an absent black Kenyan father, of having to overcome the stigma our racist society assigns, not alone to black children, but also to children of biracial parents, and yet somehow, despite all,  rising to the highest elective office in the world – President of the United States and Leader of the Free World – how could anyone deem that anything but heroic?

It is a road no one else has ever traveled and he traveled it with the utmost dignity and poise and integrity despite the unyielding enmity of men and women unworthy to stand in his presence.

They said he was not born in America. They said he’s a Socialist. They said he’s a Communist. They said he’s a Muslim, that he worships Allah. Never mind that no president in our history has publicly confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as many times as has Barack Hussein Obama.

In his long journey from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Indonesia to Punahou School in Honolulu, from Columbia University to Harvard Law School, from the Illinois State Senate to the United States Senate, to his election as President of the United States, no greater or more heroic chapter has ever been written in the annals of American history; nor is it likely that should the United States of America last a 1,000 years, his story will stand unique among all the stories ever written about presidents.

I have issues with President Obama. At times he has disappointed me, especially his failure to adequately confront our ever growing wealth divide, but measured against the whole of his presidency, of his story, I have nothing but the greatest regard for him and his remarkable wife and their two impressive and beautiful daughters.

Please know, Mr. President, that among decent and fair minded Americans, you have done us proud – and then some.

Mr. President, I love you, and I thank you for your service to America.

You’re better than we deserve.

______________________________________________

George Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader. He may be reached at: gmitro35@gmail.com.

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