Now that we officially have a newly elected president, I want to look back to our departing POTUS and recount some of what I will miss about the man I voted for, twice. First, in case anyone cares, I did not vote for Barack Obama for political reasons. As I have written before, I tend to vote as an independent, so my thinking tends to focus on character.
President Obama got my vote because of his intelligence, his even temper, his ability to speak and write with great insight and clarity, his sense of humor, and his sensitivity to all minorities. If you think about it, when you look around, there is no shortage of minorities. Some say we are a nation of minorities. If you don’t buy that, then consider the latest minority, the one everyone loves to blame: old white guys. When all the other minorities team up and complain about OWG, that makes them the new minority.
Obama didn’t blame old white guys. In fact one of his most endearing traits was his ability to see people as individuals rather than members of any particular race, religion, political party or gender. No doubt this came from his own multi-ethnic background. His skin color and popular identity was “black,” but his ethnicity was mixed, and his soul was all-inclusive.
His intelligence inspired confidence in this voter. You don’t become editor of the Harvard Law Review by winning a popularity contest. And when you choose a president, you want someone who can take time to think things out thoroughly and make a reasoned decision that maintains order and sanity. It’s not about who can push the red button the quickest.
Not only was he intelligent in a common sense way, he could poke fun at himself, a most endearing trait, and a sign that at a deep level, he was no stranger to humility. Many professional White House observers think he may have been the funniest president ever. Here are three of my favorite Obama quips:
“I want to especially thank all the members of Congress who took a break from their exhausting schedules of not passing any laws to be here tonight.”
“These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be.”
“Look, when I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”
He was also approachable and aware of and sensitive to those of us with disabilities, beginning with his own father-in-law, who had MS. President Obama understood that the ADA was about civil rights, not “special rights,” and he was clearly at ease around people with disabilities.
One of my favorite videos is of his meeting disability activist Alice Wong when she appeared in the White House via telepresence robot for the 25th ADA Celebration. After chatting with Alice amicably, he did a little dance, and the robot and Alice followed his lead, to which he quipped: “How cool was that!”
Exactly. Our coolest president ever.