A Transformative President

by Japa (@deaconmill)

In 2008, during the primary campaign, in an interview, then Senator Obama talked about how Reagan had been a transformative President and how he hoped to be the same.  He was immediately attacked by many, included his main opponent as being supportive of Reagan’s policies.  That attack, like many others before and since (clinging to guns and religion, they didn’t build that, etc.) was, of course, based upon a deliberate misreading and misinterpretation of what he said and meant.

If it isn’t obvious to everyone now, and it should be, President Obama represents the antithesis of everything President Reagan stood for.  He has repeatedly called out the GOP for continuing the failed policies of Reagonomics.  His approach to immigration reform is radically different than Reagan’s blanket amnesty with no follow-up policy.  He does not see foreign policy as a case of who can puff up their chest the biggest, like Reagan and his successors did.  He supports unions.  He supports all human rights.  He abhors the policies of racism.  He truly recognizes the difficulties and nuances of decision making.

Yet, as much as Reagan Presidency was transformative in a negative way, President Obama’s is becoming transformative in a uniquely positive way.  In fact, it may end up being the most positively transformative Presidency in the history of our country.  And this is not due to specific legislation passed with his urging, although much of that legislation will impact this country and how it views the government’s role in helping its citizens for decades to come.   Nor is it due to the fact that he is, probably, one of the top three President’s in terms of rhetorical skills.  Nor is it because he is the first black President.  All of those are important to his legacy, but they are not transformative in terms of how the country is run or how the President interacts with the other branches of government.

Earlier, Liberal Librarian posted a piece about how the President’s recent address on national security disavowed the concept of eternal war.  As has become expected, that post was incisive and caught the point of an important aspect of that speech.  It turns a corner in what, for many Americans, has been the major focus of this country for much of their adult lives.
I want to focus, for a minute, one the other important aspect of the speech, the part that to me shows how transformative this President is. Throughout the history of this country, President’s have consistently been ceded powers by the Congress, especially in the military realm, but in other areas as well.  This culminated under the Bush administration with the AUMF and the Patriot Act.  The Congress, representing us, gave Bush and his cronies unprecedented powers which they used to the utmost.  It was, rightfully, called The Imperial Presidency.

However, that Imperial Presidency could not have happened if over the decades and centuries prior to that, Congress had not given, or at least looked the other way, the Presidency increasing powers.  Oh, there were times, during our country’s history, when Congress would try to take back some powers or take the President down a notch or two.  But the general pattern has always been increased Presidential powers which the Oval Office clung unto, passed to the next in line, and worked very hard not to give up.
Until May 23, 2013.  For probably the first time in history, a President actually came forward and requested that Congress take away some of his powers.  This is a President who realizes that with great power comes great responsibility.  And it isn’t that President Obama is afraid to take on responsibility, but he realizes that having that much power placed in the hands of one person is dangerous and can easily lead to abuse of those powers.  Some would say he has abused those powers already, especially those who say they speak for the “left”.  I would argue that point, but this is not the time to do so.

Rather, I would point out that this is a transformative moment, piled on top of other transformative moments throughout this Presidency.  This is a man, a constitutional scholar, who deeply respects the separation of powers as delineated in the Constitution.  He has, sometimes to a fault perhaps, respected that separation.  He has seldom tried to strong arm legislation through (not that he would have been successful anyway considering the current insanity of the Republican Party).

Even yesterday, he made sure to emphasize that in regards to certain things, such as Guantanamo, that it is up to Congress to do the right thing and allow him to end that stain on the American character.  And he has done this repeatedly.  Congress has its role and the Executive Branch has its role to play and they should not get confused and tangled up with each other.

But for a President to voluntarily request that powers already ceded to him by Congress be taken away is as transformative as it is unprecedented.  It says to the world that the President of the United States believes in a process that should not be abrogated at a whim.  And it says to the nation that, hopefully, we will not, due to fear, make the same mistakes again in the future.   It is still too early to see if some of these transformational moves stick in our body politic, but one can hope.  And isn’t it with that very thing this all started.

Hope and Change, or more accurately Hope can lead to Change.

118 Responses to “A Transformative President”

  1. 1 isonprize
    May 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm


  2. May 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Japa, endless thanks for this beautiful, thoughtful post, you’re the best.

  3. May 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Lovely! Indeed he has fulfilled that promise already.

    • 15 vcprezofan2
      May 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      So, AlmaB, you still in celebration mode, or are you all celebrated out for this year? 😀

      • May 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm

        Too old to make it much of a big deal. This year I can’t change the numbers around or turn them upside down to make it better. Nice Chinese buffet meal though with hubby and imagining myself hugging PBO instead of that young marine.

        • 17 vcprezofan2
          May 24, 2013 at 9:59 pm

          Good for you! IMO it’s good to be able to celebrate in whichever mode you like, quiet/noisy/small group/crowd.

  4. 18 Jeff
    May 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    the media is pathetic about president forgetting to salute the marine. Just absolutely pathetic AP.

    Especially considering that he remembered and came back to correct that mistake.

    • 19 Nena20409
      May 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      A protocol that is messed up a tad, then corrected, how is that Newsworthy? How come it is still called a gaffe or faux pas (Right Term?) or whatever else that ails these lazy, lame and ideologically driven rightie bent DC beltway stenographers?

      • 20 lisalovesobama
        May 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

        That’s the thing about having a president who isn’t borderline mentally retarded or a president who isn’t a borderline perv. With no obvious goose to chase ie, “Is our children learnin’?” or little blue dresses that someone conveniently forgot to take to the cleaners, the media can only go after negligible non-issues like acknowledging that an old friend of yours is brilliant, driven and yes, easy on the eyes, or a slip of the tongue which combined some stupid terms from Star Wars and Star Trek, or that one time in five years, you were so preoccupied you rushed past a soldier then came back to salute him. Surely, surely these ” gaffes” are just as bad as sticking it to someone who’s not your wife in one of the most historic landmarks in these great United States, or as bad as being a constant walking, talking embarrassment to the country in the off time when you aren’t invading foreign countries and killing off young boys and girls based on grade A Texas dumbassness and the lying words of a dirty stinking evil old man who has his hand stuck so far up your rump, you couldn’t think without his say-so. 🙄 once the media realized PBO wasn’t going to give them fodder like his two idiot predecessors, they decided to change the rules and make anything he does or doesn’t do a scandal, a gaffe or a faux pas. My advice, fuck ’em and switch the station or change the screen.
        Ps- by the way, how you doin’ Nena? 🙂

    • 38 mellesia barnett
      May 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      It’s just another non story fot them to whine about, they are too lazy to actually do stories about the real issues that are facing the people.

  5. 39 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm

  6. 40 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm

  7. 42 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm

  8. May 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Congrats on 1st ison!!!

    Very well done, japa!!!

    #TrustBarack He’s Repudiated the NEOCONSTERS

  9. 44 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm

  10. May 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Wow, that is a fantastic piece of writing japa. It seems amongst all his other accomplishments Barack Obama has inspired those who have the talent and the passion to write. Thanks japa.

    • 46 COS
      May 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      THIS!!! Really enjoyed reading it Japa.

      • 47 japa21
        May 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm

        Thank you both. The subject drives the writing more than the auhtor at times. He is one of those that does.

        • 48 jackiegrumbacher
          May 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm

          Joining in with forus and COS to say that was a brilliant analysis, Japa. You and LL have outshone the best the best analyzers and pundits in the news business. They cannot see past the trees. You brought it home at the forest level. Thank you.

          • 49 jacquelineoboomer
            May 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm

            *You brought it home at the forest level*

            You captured that quite nicely, yourself, JackieG !!!

  11. 50 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

  12. 51 carolyn
    May 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Japa…..thank you for that editorial, and pointing out what I noticed: that he is asking for the Presidential powers to be limited, not expanded!
    This particular sentence needs to be emphasized and pointed out to those who do not listen carefully. That statement is truly revolutionary. I trust Barack Obama not to abuse the power, but we have seen what happens to that power in unscrupulous hands. He is doing this, once again, because he looks to the future. He will not always be the steward of this power.

    Since our memories go back a long time…..I was in Chicago in 1948 and remember the Chicago Trib headline: Dewey Wins…..I’m curious who you consider the other top presidential orators. My choices are FDR and JFK. I consider President Obama better than JFK. President Obama has warmth, which JFK did not have. I’ve heard FDR only in newsreels, movies and recordings, so don’t know how valid my comparison is on that score.

    • 52 japa21
      May 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      JFK could fire one out there, but he was not as consistent as PBO. Much as I didn’t like his policies, Reagan was very good at hitting the right notes for his audience. When looking at FDR, you have to consider what was the norm for the time. His style of oratory would never have been as successful today, but, for his time was excellent. I actually think that in FDR’s time people expected good oratory from a President.

      • 53 carolyn
        May 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm

        Good points about style and FDR. His accent would today turn people off, I’m sure. He just sounded too nose-in-the-air aristocratic.
        Funny, I always forget Reagan when thinking about good orators, because to me he was just empty, and acting. I do know that people thought he was a great speaker. He is just totally forgettable to me. His “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall,” was as phony as a three dollar bill. Yeck!

        • 54 japa21
          May 24, 2013 at 9:56 pm

          Like I said, Reagan was excellent at speaking to a certain audience. Obviously, to people of great intellect, such as yourself or me, he was, indeed, an empty suit.

          • 55 jacquelineoboomer
            May 24, 2013 at 10:26 pm

            Or me.

            My mother (a life-long Democrat) was of Reagan’s generation, and her memories went back to when he was a movie star. I used to rant about him to her – as late as 2005 – and, since she was in her later years and not interested in politics, she’d say, “I don’t know why you don’t like him. He was always a great actor.”

            We didn’t really disagree on much, and I didn’t want to disrespect her, so I’d have to leave the room at that point. Didn’t want to ruin his image for her, when she was in her 80s! But I could not stand that man! And he hated federal government workers, and I used to be one. Ugh. Have I mentioned how much I detested him?

        • 58 jackiegrumbacher
          May 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm

          Oh Carolyn, I totally agree about Reagan whose speeches I found insufferable. Just could not stand to hear him on any subject and didn’t believe a word he said. He was a trained actor and could read well and that just about sums it up.

      • 59 jackiegrumbacher
        May 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm

        I agree Japa, that FDR’s style was consistent with the times, but he inspired a nation the way no other president before him had done, except for Lincoln. He also had an innate understanding, like PBO does, of what people are feeling and need to hear. JFK had great oratory and a gift for a well-turned phrase and he was witty, but I agree with Carolyn, that he lacked warmth. For my money, PBO is the best in ‘recorded’ history since none of us have any idea what Lincoln, Jefferson, or Washington sounded like. President Obama deeply empathizes with his audiences and has an uncanny ability to speak directly from his heart while never insulting anyone’s intelligence by speaking down to them. I think historians and pupils of speech will be watching PBO’s speeches for decades to come and analyzing them for the brilliance of their construction and the impact of their messages. He will go down as one of the great speakers of all time, in my opinion.

      • 61 Obama Grandmama
        May 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

        My late Mom told me that a lot of FDR’s popularity came from the visibility and good works of his wife, Elenore Roosevelt. She appeared more down home and less aristocratic.

      • 62 99ts
        May 25, 2013 at 8:22 am

        Churchill was the oratory standard that many leaders followed – hence the aristocratic tone.

  13. 63 vcprezofan2
    May 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    ‘But the general pattern has always been increased Presidential powers which the Oval Office clung unto, passed to the next in line, and worked very hard not to give up.
    Until May 23, 2013. For probably the first time in history, a President actually came forward and requested that Congress take away some of his powers.

    In the words of fellow TODers “Best President e-vah” and we got him! 😆

    I like your style, Japa!

  14. 64 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) has a message for her party: expand Medicaid — or else.
    The combative GOP governor is sticking by a threat she made to veto all legislation until lawmakers resolve the 2014 state budget and pass Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. On Thursday, Brewer proved that wasn’t just talk, vetoing five bills sent to her desk in quick succession.


    Wow. !

  15. 70 Jovie
    May 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm

  16. 72 MightyPamela
    May 24, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Another well-written and intelligent view for all to ponder. Thank you very much, Japa21.

  17. May 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Hellooooooooo TOD friends!! Chilled “Happy Camper IPA” here on the opening night of Memorial Weekend 2013! No, reaaly that’s what its called! And it’s GOOD! Quality ales and beers come IN CANS NOW!!! IT’S A GREAT COUNTRY WITH A GrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEAT PRESIDENT!!!

    (’til 2017 😦 )

  18. 74 desertflower
    May 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Excellent, thoughtful piece, japa. Bravo!

  19. May 24, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I think our President would find reading what LL and japa wrote today to be gratifying and motivating – for him to know his fellow citizens truly have a clue, irrespective of the incessant #NEWSTAINER, #EMOPROG noise machines.


  20. 78 prettyfoot58
    May 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Awesome….right on point…

    esp this line……

    For probably the first time in history, a President actually came forward and requested that Congress take away some of his powers. This is a President who realizes that with great power comes great responsibility. And it isn’t that President Obama is afraid to take on responsibility, but he realizes that having that much power placed in the hands of one person is dangerous and can easily lead to abuse of those powers..


  21. May 24, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    It is really important, as japa notes, to reflect on the fact that President Obama not only stated that he wanted to REPEAL #AUMF, he would VETO any attempts to expand the scope of the current #AUMF. That is why I, albeit limited by 140 characters, formed the ‘thank you tweet’ to him, accordingly:

    #TrustBarack He’s Earned It

    • 80 japa21
      May 24, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Excellent point. This President is going where no President has gone before.

      • 81 Dudette
        May 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm

        Outstanding post Japa. This President is like none before him in countless ways. We are so fortunate to witness this time in history.

      • May 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm

        Exactly japa – and we all have known for many years that he was in_deed made of the right stuff for our time, and for future generations.


    • 83 carolyn
      May 24, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      The results of this speech will be coming for a long time. This is another long view by the president. Whatever this weekend’s pundits say is not the final word. This one will work out for years, I think.
      Hope everyone has a good weekend. We are going to Dallas to see our son and his darling family. Our oldest grandson’s birthday is next Thursday, so I’m taking a cake for tomorrow night. Being with those three grandkids just makes everything pale in comparison. Then, we’ll be back Sunday night, and Monday we’ll go to the Arts Festival at an historic area called the Paseo. A street of Spanish style buildings from the 20s, which was a slum when we moved here in the 70s, but has been renewed and restored and is now a delightful area with good restaurants, and which is the site of an art festival every Memorial Day weekend. Our son-in-law is an artist, and he has a booth there for the weekend. So…..this will be a great family weekend for us. I feel especially blessed.

      We’ll all be thinking of and honoring our veterans….my father….World War II, my husband…..Korea, and my son….the Cold War in Germany. I’m very proud of all of them.

  22. May 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    This blog is one giant truckload of AWESOMENESS!!!! [Just had to put that out there! ]

    Thank you Chips, thank you Mini-Chipsters in the Blog Tyrant Brigade! I love all of you — truly, madly, deeply! 😀

  23. 92 jacquelineoboomer
    May 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Unpleasant tweet, but good come-back blow-their-minds tweet!

    • May 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      • 94 jacquelineoboomer
        May 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm

        • 95 anniebella
          May 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

          I email Stockman and I told him to take his AK-15 and shove it were the sun don’t shine. I told him that people are looking for work, kids being kick off of head start, old ladies losing Meals on Wheels, people have no health insurance, and all a freaking nut like you can think about are guns. America don’t have anything to fear from President Obama, but it is people like you Rep. Stockman that American better get on it’s knees and pray and pray hard.

      • 97 jacquelineoboomer
        May 24, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        By the way, Bob, I’m sure you agree that Bob Cesca may never have “joked” so cavalierly about abortions, just as you normally wouldn’t speak so freely of free children’s caskets, and I would never talk about whether anybody could reproduce or not or should or not … if it weren’t for the fact that Stockman and company have absolutely no hearts and no souls, and must be ridiculed and called out.

        No matter what crass words or concepts we throw at him, one thing I know for sure: We will never be like him. Nor do we wish to be.

        And that’s what separates Obama supporters from the dark side of life in our country.

        • May 25, 2013 at 1:21 am

          “… one thing I know for sure: We will never be like him. Nor do we wish to be.

          And that’s what separates Obama supporters from the dark side of life in our country.”

          Precisely, Jacqueline!!


  24. May 24, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Well, I FINALLY have a moment to breathe!

    The morning was spent with the mum unit at the podiatrist. So I fulfilled my filial duties.

    Then it was my turn at the doctor. I have a liver condition; so, until we can get that sorted out, NO MORE ALCOHOL! As you all know, I’m a mixologist, so this is a sour turn of events. But better no alcohol than no liver, so I’ll soldier on. I’ve had 3 glasses of Crystal Light lemonade and am now enjoying some lovely chai green tea with milk and sweetener. Quite relaxing.

    And then after the doctor we went to Lowe’s, bought a bistro set for the front porch (where I imbibed all my lemonades), and hanging plants.

    I am, quite simply, pooped. And tomorrow we have a huge program at the library. So I’m going to take my tea, slip into bed, watch the rest of the Pacers-Heat game, read some William Carlos Williams, and collapse.

    Great post, japa. You should become an official mini-blog tyrant.

  25. May 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    This is a neat video of what is possible when we choose to share our humanity with our friends in other countries.

    I found it clicking on a link at @RhodaJA twitter account. Rhoda has both this video and another one he did in 2012 posted on her artistic AMAZING AMAZING blog at http://www.culturaldirection.com/ I’ve spent a few evenings this past week just enjoying different music and art at her site.

    The story behind the dancing is really a sweet story. From his website:

    “Matt is a 36-year-old deadbeat from Westport, Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. He got lucky, landing a job as a game designer in Los Angeles at a young age, and figured he had everything pretty much figured out.

    At 23, he moved to Brisbane, Australia, where it’s a pretty typical thing for people to take off and travel the planet for a while before settling down. He thought that sounded amazing, and was also starting to realize that maybe videogames weren’t the only thing that mattered. So in early 2003, he quit his job to go wandering around Southeast Asia until the money ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he was.

    A few months into his trip, he and his friend, Brad Welch, were taking pictures on the streets of Hanoi when Brad said “Hey, why don’t you stand over there and do your stupid dance. I’ll record it.” Matt did it, and he thought it looked pretty funny, so he kept on doing it everywhere he went.

    That turned out to be a very good idea.”
    more here as Chipsticks says 🙂 http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/about

  26. 112 MightyPamela
    May 24, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Candles and incense alight, welcoming the eclipse which we surely will not see with our dense cloud cover moving in. Goodnight all. We are the history of this country. We are living and breathing and shaping it. Thank you all for voting for Barack Obama. We done good! 🙂

    • 113 Dudette
      May 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      We sure did!

    • May 25, 2013 at 1:23 am

      “We are the history of this country. We are living and breathing and shaping it. Thank you all for voting for Barack Obama. We done good!”

      Perfection, Mighty P!!!!

      Yes We Can

      • 115 HZ
        May 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

        (((((MightyPamela))))) “We are the history of this country. We are living and breathing and shaping it. Thank you all for voting for Barack Obama. We done good.”

        My eyes are so full and grateful to you, MightyPamela for your beautiful and truthful words. What a blessing we were given to bring on home this beautiful and great gift, now our Beloved 44th President.

        Love you my beautiful “Candle Princess.”HZ

  27. 116 globalcitizenlinda
    May 25, 2013 at 7:28 am

    very powerful write up! thank you very much for this.

    the portion of PBO’s speech asking congress to reduce Presidential Power struck me immediately when I was listening to live broadcast. I wonder how many in the beltway or media elite caught the magnitude of this request.

  28. May 25, 2013 at 9:57 am

    this is an awesome piece. thanks

    • 118 HZ
      May 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Japa, I started with your piece. I have been trying to tame my pain in the last few day, so this morning became a need to settle back into bed and catch up on my beautiful TOD Family. My, My, My!!!!

      Japa, as I read your beautiful piece, my heart was filled with so much beautiful and simple beauty. You know as you walk on a lovely trail and see so much beauty mixed in with a little mixture of the unkindness of how man(as a whole) has been a little careless with our part of being good stewards of the earth? Well, that is how my heart felt as you reminded us of what this President has brought to us and what he is trying daily to help us understand what beautiful gifts we all have to make not only this presidency a most beautiful one, but how we ourselves must receive this presidency as a guiding light to move our nation closer and closer to that perfect union. And above all, he is so beautifully willing to remind us that his power as President will always be cared for, by him with much care and grace. However, he also wants to make sure that he has handled his responsibilities with much care and that those who follow him will think of this Great responsibility way beyond themselves.

      Japa, (((((((((((Thank you so much.))))))))))))))HZ

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