Biden gets the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Now tell me that this video from yesterday (longer 17-minute version here) doesn’t bring a tear to your eye—it sure did to Biden’s—or at least a glow in your heart. Here Vice-President Joe Biden, a good man, is surprised by President Obama awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

God, I’ll miss these guys. In only a short week we’ll be plunged into at least four years of darkness, but at least we can remember these final days. Goodbye, guys: it wasn’t a perfect run, but it was a good one.

95 Comments

  1. Teresa Carson
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    One of the many reasons that Obama’s tenure in the White House has been so wonderful is that he clearly has enjoyed being president and has taken advantage of the opportunities his position has offered. He has invited numerous artists to perform at the WH and has had more state dinners than, for example, Bush and Reagan. And he had a surprise party of the highest order to honor the vice president. So much class. So much cool.

    • Rita
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      +1

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      I fear that this likable social side at the movement (in some ways) overshadow the many doubtful political actions and failures over his tenure.

      But, in the long run, I think it will be the political aspects, and its consequences that will be remembered.

      • Randy Bessinger
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        -1

      • mordacious1
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Obama has been sandwiched in between GW and Trump, there’s no way that he will look bad through the lens of history.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      He has invited numerous artists to perform at the WH

      On that subject, did Trump eventually raise the bribe level high enough to get someone to play for his Post-Lie party – whatever they call the glad-handing festival that follows the inauguration ceremony?
      Last I heard, probably before the holiday pile-up, was that he’d raised his appearance bribe to a megabuck, but still hadn’t got any takers.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Ooops, I forgot to mention the President-Elect’s unfeasibly small hands.

  2. eric
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I like Joe Biden, but I don’t like the precedent of a sitting President awarding his VP (or really any member of his cabinet) this medal. Its too self-congratulatory, to in-crowd (if that makes sense). And while he’s had a long fairly liberal career in politics, I also can’t think of any specific action he’s done in the last 8 years to distinguish himself from others – with the exception of one. Biden – somewhat accidentally – came out publicly in support of same sex marriage before any other major political operator did. He pretty much started the snowball rolling on that one. Would it have started rolling without him? Maybe. But nevertheless, historically, his 2012 statements put it front and center and forced Obama, the democratic party, and pretty much everyone else to discuss the matter seriously.

    In any event, I’m somewhat ambivalent. A good politician…but maybe not distinguished medal of freedom good. And I really *really* hope this doesn’t start a chain reaction of future Presidents giving over-the-top awards and accolades to their VPs and others. Its really easy to envision Trump abusing this precedent.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      It’s not the Veep’s place to take “specific action … to distinguish himself from others,” especially not from the president he serves. True, Biden led the way on SSM, but there’s always been a question whether he got out over his skis on that one, or whether he was acting as a stalking horse for Barack to test the waters (to wildly mix at least three metaphors 🙂 ).

      In any event, there’s not much danger that presidents will commence to making such awards routinely, given that most POTUSes and VPs can’t stand each other by the time their term of office ends (see Bush-Cheney and Clinton-Gore; Bush-Quayle and Reagan-Poppy were never that close to begin with).

      It struck me as a touching one-off for the Prez to give Biden (who began serving in the US senate way back in ’73, and chaired both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees) the Freedom Medal for his long service to country — even if the tears ol’ Uncle Joe was squirting might’ve actually belonged to Neil Kinnock. 🙂

      • Diane G.
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Did you watch Joe’s speech after Obama’s? There’s a part where he says he’s going to quote an Irish poet, resulting in laughter from the audience, to which Biden responds, “..when you can find someone who says it better, use it.” Has to be a reference to the Kinnock incident; is no doubt a line he’s used before, but it’s still a good one. 🙂

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          I hadn’t, but I have now that you pointed it out.

          He’s got the Irish charm, that’s for sure. How I wish we were getting ready to inaugurate him right now! (Sad to say, I rooted against his getting in the race; I knew it would steal some of Bernie’s steam — and thought if we didn’t get Bernie, as seemed likely, we’d at least have our first woman president. Foolish me.)

          • Diane G.
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

            I wasn’t keen on him running, either, though I think he’d have been a fine president. I thought he was probably too old (though Sanders was slightly older) and had been through enough recent trauma…I’m not sure he himself was even that eager to run…

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

              Bet he wishes he had now.

              This was the year for alter kockers to run for the presidency — Trump, Bernie, Hillary, Carson, Kasich, Jeb!, Pataki, Jim Webb, Jim Gilmmore (whoever the hell he was!)– all older then I am, anyway (which is the test for “old” we apply, innit?). Barack’s the only younger candidate ever to capture a presidential nomination, and Pence will be the only person younger to serve as veep.

              There’ll come a changing of the guard soon. (B. Clinton, Dubya, and Trump were all part of the first crop of baby-boomers, the three of them born within two months of each other in the summer of ’46, less than a year after VJ Day.)

              My early favorite for 2020, nevertheless, is Elizabeth Warren, who at 71 would be the oldest person ever inaugurated as president for the first time.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Eric, did you catch the identities of the three other MoF awards Obama mentioned? A pope, Reagan, Colin Powell? I think Joe more than belongs in that company.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        Of the three, the only one I give a hoot for is ol’ Colin — and I’ll never forgive him for letting his foot slip off the brake with that fakakta U.N. speech.

  3. FiveGreenLeafs
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I would like to warn about the ever present perils of confirmation bias, and cognitive dissonance here.

    I think that history, when time has given opportunity for the smoke and dust to settle a little, will not take kindly to Obama’s presidency.

    Contrary, I would not be surprised if it will be viewed as very bad, in light of its long term consequences and lost opportunities.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Well, let’s see: Got us out of two hugely expensive wars (rather than into new wars — first president not to invade another country since Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981), righted the economy after a brush with a second Great Depression, extended health care to all citizens, supported LGBT rights wherever possible, no scandals, steady at the helm in keeping pressure on the Islamists (keep them on the defensive instead of the offensive; Bin Laden dead), sane leadership, acceptance of atheists (you’ve forgotten the shout out in his 2009 Inaugural Address?), classy family …

      “Bad” compared to which presidents? Bush II whom he followed?

      • Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        Forgot about Clinton …

      • Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Hard to be worse than Bush two, but he had a good try. You say he stayed out of war, but he didn’t. He avoided putting “biots on the ground”, but he stayed wars, anyway. The one he provoked in Libya put Al-Qaeda in charge there, and the one in Syria was a humiliation for the USA, and a decisive victory for Putin. Engineered a clumsy attempt at revolution in Ukraine, which also resulted in humiliation at the hands of Putin. Engineered a revolution in Egypt which nearly put jihadists in charge there. Fortunately, the military were able to restore order. Enabled nuclear proliferation with his Iran deal. (Not without precedent: Bill Clinton had done similar in North Korea by signing weak Jimmy Carter to the job.) All these actions have made the world a less safe place, and have diminished the USA within it.

        • Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          Typos: “Biots” should be “boots”; “stayed wars” should be “started wars”.

        • Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          Soooo, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the same as they were in 2008, same costs, same casualty rates?

          We haven’t pulled 100% of US personnel out of Iraq and Afghanistan (we probably never will; and it is not really expected) but the difference is pretty dramatic. We are out of those wars. We continue to provide support for those governments. Are they perfect? Far from it.

          Obama engineered the Arab Spring? Obama engineered the Crimea invasion by Russia? Seriously? (I think you need to read Putin’s speeches at the time of the Russian invasion.)

          Your proposal for Syria is what, a US invasion? Bomb Damascus?

          Your proposal for Iran? Invade? Bomb their facilities?

          Sounds like you are looking for a strong-man president like … like Trump, perhaps.

          • Posted January 15, 2017 at 5:58 am | Permalink

            Though Bush should never have gone into Iraq, the place was under control when Obama decided to leave. Instead of leaving, US would have been better off keeping control, and covering the cost by levying a fee from the Iraq government (following a precedent set in Germany, Japan and South Korea).

            Obama, in parallel with the EU, under the guise of “promoting democracy”, engineered the “revolution” in Ukraine by funding and promoting opponents of the elected Russophilic President to organize protests. They successfully made the president fear for his life and flee the country, but this backfired when Russia seized Crimea. Now Crimea is permanently lost to Russian irredentism, and Russia has access to the Black Sea. Exactly the opposite of what the US, the EU and NATO wanted. West can’t do a thing about it, because direct war with Russia is not worth the price (to put it mildly), so USA/EU/NATO have lost strategic territory they thought they would own (by absorbing Ukraine into EU), and have lost a lot of credibility. They can hardly claim that Ukraine is not legitimately part of Russia, since it was from 1774 until Ukraine seceded in 1991, and, moreover, the vast majority of the population of Crimea were (and of course still are) pro-Russia. Embarrassing, humiliating, weak and incompetent.

            Obama didn’t light the initial spark of the so-called “Arab Spring”, but as soon as it got going, was gung-ho in support, fanning the flames. He made an speech in May 2011 wholeheartedly encouraging those seeking to overthrow their governments across the region. He channelled material and moral support towards the “democratic” rebels, and hung former allies such as Mubarak and Ben Ali out to dry. He also betrayed Gaddafi, who’d previously given up weapons programs amidst other peace gestures. In the process, Hillary Clinton allowed US diplomats to die, so as not to interfere with the supposed “democratic revolution”, which was no such thing. He then started a proxy war against Bashar Al-Assad, claiming (falsely) that the rebels were “moderates” and “democrats”, when in fact they were Sunni Jihadists. Either Obama was an idiot (didn’t know that all the significant opposition groups in the region were Jihadists), or was evil (was knowingly supporting the Jihadists). There is no way he comes out of this looking good. Also, by attacking Al-Assad, he was again attacking Russia by proxy, since Russia has a strategic air base in Syria, which the rebels would have shut down. Since the rebels were also allies of ISIS, many of the weapons shipped to the rebels ended up in ISIS’ hands. Obama and Kerry knowingly allowed this to happen. They pumped out tons of false propaganda about Aleppo, and sponsored the movement of vast numbers of Muslim “refugees” (who were often nothing of the sort) into Western countries, while keeping quiet about the enslavement and genocide, at the hands of Jihadists, of Christians in the region.

            And all to what end?

            They got humiliated by Russia AGAIN!

            Weak, stupid and evil.

            • FiveGreenLeafs
              Posted January 15, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

              +1

              I think the fact that we now have rather convincing evidence that Obama, Kerry and Hillary, actually knowingly armed and supported Daesh (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and other “moderates”, will come back to haunt his legacy.

              From the Independent, We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along,US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding Isis.

              And, that the refugee crisis that has ensued from Syria, and, now risks intensify even further from northern Africa, where Algeria might be next in line to go down the Syria/Libya spiral, might be the straw that finally breaks the camels back, and destroys the EU project.

              It would in many ways be the hight of irony, that the person awarded the Nobel peace prize, (more or less preemptively), would be the same person, who might be instrumental in the demise of what is often claimed and viewed to be the most significant peace project in human history.

              (If the EU projects falls down in flames, it is not (I think) solely, or necessary mainly, due to the refugee crisis, but, the refugee crisis might, above the debt and financial and structural problems, be what pushes it beyond the breaking point.)

              • Posted January 15, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

                And as if all that weren’t enough, Hillary Clinton publicly threatened Russia with “military responses” for allegedly (still no evidence) hacking the DNC. What?!? She wants to start WWIII over a routine bit of spying that may not even have happened? She was a dangerous idiot. The USA dodged a poison-tipped bullet when they rejected her.

              • Carl
                Posted January 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

                Peregrino Nuzkwamia, I am not a Clinton fan, but in this instance she had the right policy approach. Allowing ourselves to be pushed around by Russia, Chamberlain style, will only lead to further aggression. If you still think there is no evidence for Russian hacking, then you are badly misinformed.

              • Posted January 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

                Even if there’s proof it was Russia (I haven’t heard of any), it’s just normal spying. All the powers do it. It’s never a cause to start a war. Remember the fake rocks in Moscow? Remember the hacking of Merkel’s phone? No war resulted. You’d have to be insane to launch a war inner such an incident.

              • Carl
                Posted January 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

                I don’t agree that it would be “launching a war” – though if Putin is dumb enough to escalate, that might be the result. Better early, than following more years of him accumulating power. The appeasement of Hitler is a very close parallel here.

                And I don’t agree it was “normal spying” – an attempt to influence our elections is far more egregious than attempts to learn things about us that we prefer they didn’t – which also deserves retaliation.

              • Posted January 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

                “Military response” is quite unambiguous. It would be an act of war.

                As for Putin being dumb, he just humiliated the USA twice out of two conflicts, both started by the US. The people running the US are evidently the dumb ones.

                And, yes, it would be normal spying, if in fact it turned out to be Russia that did it. (Still no evidence). It wasn’t secret weapons, or anything, just the ordinary doings of a political party.

                Hypocritical to talk about trying to influence elections that way, when the US routinely tries to influence elections both openly and clandestinely, often in very major ways. Ukraine being an example where the US had been meddling for many years. Obama personally intervened to try to influence the Brexit vote recently, by making threats about free trade with the USA.

              • Posted January 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

                The whole fantasy that Hillary lost due to foreign interference is nothing but an example of what Freud called “denial” – an attempt to avoid accepting the obvious fact that Hillary was a bad candidate who ran a bad campaign, and people liked Trump’s platform better.

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        Already back in March 2 of last year, I wrote this comment under the post, “The Trump steamroller keeps flattening other Republicans…”

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/the-trump-steamroller-keeps-flattening-other-republicans-clinton-takes/#comment-1306793

        “Beware confirmation bias…

        One aspect of observing this from afar, is perhaps, that it make it easier to stay somewhat more detached and objective.

        And one thing I have noted is the apparent size and tenacity in the “denial” of what over the past six month, to my mind, became ever more obvious, i.e the ascendant of Trump.

        I have also read a lot of comments, in newspapers and elsewhere, that a race between Trump and Hillary is a forgone conclusion, (i.e. with Hillary winning), but from my point of view and from what I see and read, I don’t think that necessarily is the case.”

        And on July 27, in response to the post, “Trump just lost any chance he had to be President”, I wrote the following:

        “I don’t do bets, so I will not take up the offer, but, if nothing (more) extraordinary happens until November, I think the probability of Trump winning is now much higher than that Hillary will do so.”

        I believe, that the same mechanisms, and the same failures to accurately assess the situation and the whole range of relevant data and evidence leading up to the November 8 election, is at work here as well, when assessing Obama’s presidency.

        I abstained (mostly) from commenting on the many threads here on WEIT prior to the election, and I have no desire entering into a discussion of the specifics here either, other than, again, warn about what I perceive as an apparent failure to apply sound critical thinking and sensible (meta)cognitive safeguards.

        • Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          I’m not arguing about the confirmation bias.

          No doubt, the Dems screwed the pooch on this election (with some help from Russia and other assorted fake news). And much of that was self-delusion, can’t disagree. And much was the Bernie hangover: Many on the left relentlessly spoke about what a piece of s#!t Hilary was: Probably not the best get-out-the-vote strategy.

          But I stand by my assessment of Obama as a good president, especially considering the war-mongering, doddering fool who preceded him and the corrupt, malignant narcissist who is about to succeed him.

          We can pick nits about his leadership of the Dem party.

          I’m waiting for that list of better presidents from the last 50 years.

          (And which president in recent history has faced such obstinate and complete opposition from the other party, such absolute refusal to deal or compromise? The answer: None did.)

          • FiveGreenLeafs
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

            I think many of your given examples and arguments are skewed (biased), and incomplete, they are also (I think) in many cases quite irrelevant (or inconsequential).

            They might to you, here and now feel like they are, but in the big scheme of things, and in the light of historic experience, many of them are (to my mind) probably not even going to appear as footnotes.

            I also think Obama’s tenure has spanned an important historic shift or crossroad, which means that we can not necessarily use passed experiences to extrapolate forward, which means that future perspectives might be quite different.

            As I said in my previous comment, I don’t think you can judge his presidency before, “time has given opportunity for the smoke and dust to settle a little…”

            We simply do not yet know what the consequences of many of his actions and inactions are.

            And, to confound that issue even further, we are (at present) in many instances not even aware of what he has done or not done, and we will not, for many years to come.

            • Historian
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

              The dust never actually settles on a president or historical personage and there is no final judgment. The old adage of “let history judge” is quite naïve in regard to evaluating the “goodness” or “badness” of what such people did. How historians characterize events or people is often influenced by the era in which the writing takes place. For example, historians in the first half of the 20th century characterized the Reconstruction period as a tragedy because the white folk of the South were supposedly oppressed by the Radical Republicans. This view was promulgated because most of the historians were racists. By the mid-20th century this view was substantially revised as a more liberal group of historians gained prominence in academia. While it is true that the historical evaluation of many presidents has not changed much since their administrations (it is quite unlikely that James Buchanan will ever move up to near the top of the hit parade), but some have. Jefferson, for example, is now viewed less favorably by some historians because despite his lip service, he did nothing to end or mitigate the evils of slavery. Eisenhower for many years was viewed as a bungler. Now many historians praise him for being much savvier that his verbal incoherence seemed to indicate at the time.

              So, yes, Obama’s reputation may grow or diminish as time goes by and new information comes to light. But, this doesn’t mean that historians will evaluate him the same way 20 years from now as they will in 50. As stated above, the dust never settles. If it actually did, historians would have nothing to argue about. And that wouldn’t be fun.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

                Aw, hell, you historians haven’t even settled on Cheops’s final legacy yet. 🙂

              • FiveGreenLeafs
                Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

                Well, your comment would have been relevant if I had actually said (or meant) “final judgment”, but since I didn’t, it is as far as my comment is concerned, of little direct relevance.

                In my opinion, there will probably never exist a “final” judgment on anything, either in science or history for very fundamental reasons, which makes me question why you would even think that I mean that?

                But maybe I failed to convey my thoughts accurately.

                I also think you fail to distinguish between,

                Making an assessment based on incomplete evidence
                Making an assessment based on fairly complete evidence
                and changing opinions based on new social and cultural values

                They are, (to my mind) different things.

                For the first, we simply do not yet know many of the consequences of Obama’s presidency, for the very simple reason, that they have not happened yet.

                Or, because we do not yet know, what it was he actually did, or didn’t do.

                It is (to my mind) only with time, that we will gain a more complete picture, and be able to do a fairly accurate assessment.

                And, if we change our opinion about a historic person because of changing social values, not because we have any new information or evidence, that is another thing entirely…

            • Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

              As I said in my previous comment, I don’t think you can judge his presidency before , “time has given opportunity for the smoke and dust to settle a little

              Nonsense.

              I can certainly judge his presidency by my own lights (and I don’t presume to do more than that) as can you. And our results vary.

              I can’t judge his presidency with the hindsight of history of course, and neither can you!

              I find it interesting that you think your judgment on his performance is somehow inherently better and has a better grasp of the reality of the long-view (which doesn’t exist yet), based on knowing nothing of what I know about the last 8 years.

              Yes, your opinion is different from mine and of course you think yours is right and mine is wrong (since it differs from yours).

              I also find it interesting that you have not shared your specific reasons for thinking, “I think that history, when time has given opportunity for the smoke and dust to settle a little, will not take kindly to Obama’s presidency.“.

              I think I have been reasonably clear on why I think it’s been a good presidency. (And that list of better presidents in the last 50 years …)

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                Must be nice to be as free from confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance as FiveGreenLeafs is. Wonder why he’s not running the country?

              • FiveGreenLeafs
                Posted January 14, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

                Diane G,

                I am quite saddened by this remark.

                Nowhere do I claim that I am free of confirmation bias.

                We all suffer from it, (and the science about this is quite clear), but, fortunately, we often suffer from slightly different ones!

                That is why we can (and should) help one another, by pointing them out.

                Many of the commenter’s here failed miserably to accurately understand the election, because they failed to attend to the whole range of evidence, and correctly assess it.

                And, they will (I believe) fail in this, for exactly the same reason, but, this time around, there will be no election, to prove their failure.

                For me, one of the most important aspects as a scientist, is to constantly question my own conclusions and my arguments and check them against evidence and outcomes, and, to learn from past failures…

    • Mack
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Obama’s section in the history books will be prefaced with “facing immediately and unified absolute opposition from Republicans, even before his inauguration, President Obama…” History will no doubt take note of the unique degree of antagonism from the opposition party. You think?

    • peepuk
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      From an European perspective:

      It was a bit dull; don’t think it was bad.

      I have a feeling that Trump’s legacy will not be dull, but bad.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      What jblilie and Mack said, plus he came into office with the nation in the midst of the biggest economic crises since the Great Depression. He save the US auto industry, righted the economy (81 consecutive months of economic growth, unemployment below 5%), and provided 20 million more Americans with health care.

      He also restored the US’s reputation as a thoughtful partner in the international community — although, true, he didn’t do enough bellicose chest-thumping to please the right wing.

      • Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        I disagree that Obama restored the reputation of the USA. To me, he presided over the final dismantling of Pax Americana, and I am not happy about it. I do not regard Obama’s USA as a thoughtful partner, but as a superpower that is OK with a world in chaos. Add the hostility to Israel and the appeasement of Cuba at the expense of Cuban refugees.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          You preferred the two-losing-wars and cowboy diplomacy of George W. Bush?

          Regarding Cuba, where did five-and-a-half decades of embargo get us? It was a sop (primarily by Republicans) to the hard-line exile community that left the island after El Revolución. That generation is all but gone now, and the generations that followed — the generations born and bred in the USA — aren’t nearly as invested in maintaining Cuban sanctions.

          The unintended effect of the embargo was to prop up the Castro brothers, by giving them a ready, visible scapegoat for their failures. And it deprived the people of Cuba ready access to the free-flow of information and commerce that would’ve helped foment democratic reform. It also drove many in the entrepreneurial class and the intelligentsia — the portions of the population most amenable to spreading democratic reform — to abandon the island.

          • Carl
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            I will agree that engagement with Cuba may be better, particularly now that Fidel is gone.

            But under Obama the fetus of totalitarianism, in the person of Putin, grew to adolescence and beyond. Yes Bush’s “soul vision” are at fault here too, and Trump’s attitude toward Putin seems likely to make things worse.

            However, Obama was weak and appeasing. He came into office with aspirations that being friendly and reasonable toward Russia and Iran would get us reason and good will in return. It’s time to admit that isn’t the way it worked out. Our influence and respect in the world has declined while Putin and Iran’s leadership have advanced their agendas.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

              “the fetus of totalitarianism” — no wonder I’m such a staunch supporter of the right to choose. 🙂

              • Carl
                Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

                Out of respect for our recent plagiarism discussion, I stole that from John Adams, who worried the office of President was the “foetus of monarchy.”

            • mikeyc
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

              Wait. You’re blaming the rise of Putin on Obama? That is really reaching. Would be deeply insulting to Russians too, I’ve no doubt.

              • Carl
                Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

                I am blaming Obama for not forcefully countering Putin. Acting weakly and thereby reassuring Putin he could do almost anything with impunity – annex Crimea, invade Ukraine, put Russian troops in Syria, or make cyber attacks against the U.S. and interfere with our election. If you want a long and detailed explanation of Obama’s appeasement, and Putin snuffing out Russian democracy while becoming ever more dangerous, read Winter Is Coming by Gary Kasparov.

                Putin is a thug, and Obama had exactly the wrong strategy for dealing with him.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            Absolutely agree on Cuba. How would detente with Cuba be ‘at the expense of Cuban refugees’ – except for a minority of vindictive right-wingers? For the others, surely easing of relations would have to be good.

            The US’s long history of opposition to Cuba just looked like international thuggery, motivated by revenge for the humiliation of Bay of Pigs and Cuba’s bad taste in running a socialist economy that refused to collapse under American pressure. And all for no good reason whatever. (Placating a group of voters in Florida is *not* a good reason).

            cr

            • Posted January 14, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

              I meant that people fleeing Cuba and reaching US territory would no longer be automatically regarded as eligible to remain. Apparently, Cuba has become a democratic country, but with my busy schedule I have missed the news.

              To some, the US opposition to Cuba may look like international thuggery. To others, like me, it does not. I can immediately give a good reason for the embargo: to prevent eventual US business interests dependent on a rogue regime, the type we are seeing with Saudi Arabia.

          • Posted January 14, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I prefer Bush, despite the WMD gaffe. As for the losing wars… let’s first say, what is our criterion for winning a war? Our sworn enemies to become our friends? Unlikely to happen.
            As for Cuba, I think the removal of special status for fugitives should have been linked to some reform in the island. The way it was done, it looked like the unilateral concession it was. Quite in line with my general impression of Obama’s presidency, to give presents to enemies wherever he sees them.
            Judging from my experience in a society like Cuba’s, an entrepreneurial class there is unlikely to exist, and this is the main problem. As for the intelligentsia, I do not think that the absence of embargo would motivate it to stay in a homeland destroyed by a socialist economy, or magically make this type of economy flourish despite its spectacular failure in every other place where it has been applied. In my part of the world, democratic reform was not fomented by free flow of information or commerce. It was fomented by economic collapse.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    • Carl
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Five, Don’t you recognize that President Obama is highly intelligent, had good intentions, and is a very nice man? Isn’t that enough?

      Of course not. Obama’s warm personal qualities obscured the damage he was doing.

      • Mark R.
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        And DT is the absolute opposite…not “very smart”, no good intentions (at least haven’t seen any yet), and a very mean man.

        Let’s hope DT’s cold personal qualities won’t obscure the damage he does. For his damage is sure to make Obama’s child’s play.

        • Carl
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          Mark R., I agree with you as well. I wouldn’t make predictions about the damage Trump will do, but much seems likely.

          Part of the damage done by Obama is easing the way for the unthinkable presidency of Trump.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            As sure as night follows day, American voters elect the opposite of the president they just had — Carter was the un-Nixon; Reagan, the un-Carter; Clinton, the un-Reagan/Bush; and so on through Bush II and Obama.

            Now the electorate has lashed us to the polar opposite of steady, calm, and thoughtful.

            • Carl
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

              Sorry, but we can’t just write off Trump as more of the same. Trump is different in kind, and the election of someone like him had been unthinkable, right up until the votes were mostly counted.

              It was a perfect storm with many contributing factors, all of which were necessary, but Obama was one of these.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

              Oh, I think you’re right. But we’ve got the Republican primary voters (and the pusillanimous GOP establishment and the befuddled media) to blame for that.

              What I meant is that the general electorate, given a stark choice between continuity and change, once again opted for continuity’s opposite.

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

                No it didn’t. By a wider margin than in some previous contests Hillary won the popular vote. I don’t think you can characterize the 80K more or less votes in a few battleground states as the will of the “general electorate.”

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 13, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                You’re right, DG; I meant to put a parenthetical after “electorate” saying “(or at least the 45% who voted for Trump)”.

          • mordacious1
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            Yes, there’s that.

      • Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        Well said!

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  4. Marilyn
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I think I read somewhere that this isn’t the first time a President awarded the Medal to a Vice-President.

  5. Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    “God, I’ll miss these guys.”

    Me too. Very unhappy about 2016. Good effing riddance to 2016.

    Hang on folks, the next 4 years are going to be a bumpy ride.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Yup, into the heart of darkness we go…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Nice All About Eve allusion.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Perfect

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I can say that I wish he did this or that thing, that he would have pushed harder on certain issues. But compared to so many in this office over the last several decades, I genuinely like this man and respect what he tried to do. The same goes for the V.P. and First Lady.
    I miss ’em already.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      My unrequited bromance with Barack had its ups and downs, too, especially during the middle four years between the two midterm elections. (If Barry’s time in office were a pop song, the bridge would’ve been meh.)

      But I liked his first two years just fine. And during his last two, I developed a deep, abiding respect for the man. Especially given what we’re in store for now, we’ll miss something fierce his class and dignity, his intelligence and reasoned thinking, his articulateness and steady hand.

      We’re gonna miss his thoughtful and humane policies, too, many of us will.

      • Claudia Baker
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Agree 100%. His ‘steady hand’ and as you said above, ‘no bellicose chest-thumping’ are exactly what is needed in a world leader. Also called ‘the middle way’, it is always better to keep calm and poised in the face of hardship. Not easy to do!

        We are in for some hard-core chest-pumping now, I’m afraid. And no thoughtful nor humane ways will be anywhere to be seen in the next 4 years. I despair.

  7. John Dentinger
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    My wife & I were feeling awfully nervous about the next few years–but this article by Ron Lindsay did make us feel slightly less nervous: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-a-lindsay/the-trump-presidency-a-se_b_14145038.html
    PS Of course I got this from The Morning Heresy with Paul Fidalgo

  8. Historian
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Obama was inspirational and I supported most of his policies. Unfortunately, as leader of the Democratic Party, he was almost a total failure. He managed to get himself elected twice, but he presided over a debacle that allowed the Republicans to gain overwhelming dominance on the state and congressional levels. During the last eight years the Democrats seem to have lost an understanding of what it takes to win elections. The Republicans have not. Republicans have managed to control the message, while Democrats have ineffectually done little to counter it. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a great example. There were many things Democrats could have done to publicize the many good things of the law. Instead, they thought the law would sell itself. How wrong they were! They allowed Republicans to say for seven years that the law was a disaster, which it wasn’t. In a mass society, effective mass marketing is necessary. We may wish it was otherwise, but reality says it can’t be.

    So, now we have Trump and the Republic is in jeopardy. Democrats need a new, young leadership that realizes the Republicans have succeeded by waging a war of unending and relentless lies. Democrats need to formulate a policy that is equally relentless and continuous, but without the lies. Assuming a new leadership will emerge (which is questionable), I hope it is not too late for it to reverse the tide. In the meantime, dark times are imminent.

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      I think he was up against right wing talk radio and Fox News. Hard to compete and run the country IMO.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Not to mention six years of a totally obstructionist Republican congress.

      • Historian
        Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Actually, if you know what you’re doing, it is not impossible to compete against your opponents and run the country. Franklin D. Roosevelt proved this by winning four terms. During his entire 12 years in office, he managed to retain Democratic majorities (by varying amounts) in both houses of Congress. In his time, he faced strong opposition from the most powerful media, the newspapers. He knew how to attack Republicans effectively. He was both a great president and a great party leader. I think due to his personality, Obama was reluctant to confront Republicans with the aggressiveness to effectively counter them. Also, as party leader, he has to be held at least partially responsible for the collapse of the Democratic Party in many of the states.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          He also had a great liberal icon as First Lady.

          Still, he almost screwed the pooch with that court-packing plan.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            I mean, FDR did (although Barack has a great liberal icon for a First Lady, too).

            You’re right that Obama never gave his version of FDR’s “I Welcome Their Hatred” speech. Part of that was personality, I think.

            Another part was the inherent restrictions that came with his being our first black president. He couldn’t afford to be seen as “an angry black man.” (You’ll notice Barry was never photographed with a hand above his head; he knew he was always just one raised-fist photograph away from being relegated to black-power oblivion.)

        • darrelle
          Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          I think another issue regarding Obama’s leadership of the Party is that he was a relative outsider. His rise to the presidency was unexpected and contrary to what the insiders and leadership of the Party wanted. It seemed to me that the Democratic Party was never particularly amenable to being led by Obama.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

            To its detriment.

            • darrelle
              Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

              No doubt about it.

    • Taz
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      During the last eight years the Democrats seem to have lost an understanding of what it takes to win elections.

      The Republicans have remembered the old platitude “all politics is local”, while the Democrats have not, and it’s been going on for longer than eight years. People protesting the Trump election would do far better to start working on 2018.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Some seem to think that Obama or Biden or super democrat could have and should have, blah. I think it is just fine that Obama awarded the guy. Life long service to his country and all the rest.

    The fact that the nut job and republicans are in charge is as much our blame as Obama’s. We have blown it as a party and have done so for many years. We didn’t get here overnight. We are too busy with the small stuff and doing very little about the big. Just the fact that 50% of us do not even go vote should tell us who to blame. We sound like the republicans, blaming it all on government when in fact, in this system we are the government. We just don’t seem to want to own it.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Yep, we have met the enemy and he is us. The Dems did not show up on election day.

  10. Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    yes we will.

    reaching out to those who do not believe that science has established the rapid change of climate is at least partly manmade and needs study has been hard for the last decade and will be harder still.
    shouting may not help. But establishing discussion seems still to be impossible.
    Last year I bought a book to read to avoid all the political nonsense, Genius of the seventeenth century. Twas naive tithing I would be reading about seminal scientists. at the least seminiferous.
    But, the first third was about the wars and disease in the seventeenth century. Leads me to think we have not changed a lot.

    • peepuk
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      For humans the world has improved a lot after the French + American Enlightenment.

      I think the big difference with the 17th century is that we are somewhat better at recognizing bullshit.

      Still not perfect.

  11. David Duncan
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Biden seems like a nice chap but I don’t see what he’s done to earn the PMoF.

    I’m kinda reminded of the way Soviet leaders awarded each other Orders of Lenin and such.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I wish to look at the comments if Trump does the same to Pence.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Biden was a United States senator for 36 years before becoming vice president. During that time, he served as chairman of the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees. He’s a recognized expert in foreign affairs, and has long been a leader of the Democratic party.

      While serving the public, Biden has overcome deep private tragedy (including the loss of his wife and baby daughter to a car accident in 1972, right after his initial senate campaign, and the recent loss of his son Beau). His accomplishment are comparable to other Medal winners.

      By the time their tenure in office concludes, I suspect Trump and Pence will no longer be on speaking terms.

      • David Duncan
        Posted January 14, 2017 at 2:20 am | Permalink

        So, we give the PMoF to time servers who have served on committees and suffered personal tragedy. Now I get it.

        /sarcasm off

        • Diane G.
          Posted January 14, 2017 at 2:39 am | Permalink

          We don’t give it to anyone. It’s the Presidential medal, and the prez gets to choose if and to whom he will award it.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 14, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

          If by “time servers,” you mean people who have given long service to country or culture or humanitarian causes, then, yes, that’s precisely whom the president awards it to. It’s been given to over 40 former congresspersons, 28 former cabinet members, and four former First Ladies (as well as to people in the arts, academia, media, government, etc.)

          Do you piss & moan about the awardees every year — or just think Joe Biden is somehow uniquely undeserving when compared to these others?

  12. Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to VP Joseph Biden and to Pres. Obama for recognizing the lifetime of service of this good man. He has been one of the best and most effective VPs ever. Future VPs should learn from him.

    And, it saddens me that some people continue to malign President Obama for his not having miraculously cured all the ills of the country during his presidency. He took on an onerous task knowing that he would become a target of hatred and did it anyway with continuing grace. Shall we compare him to a Bill Clinton or a George W. Bush? Let’s see what the history books have to say in 25 years.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      +1


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