Barack Obama — March 22, 2016 at 6:14 pm

This is why Republicans hate Obama — and this is why he doesn’t mind


Republicans are very upset that President Obama continued on with his trip in Cuba after the disgusting terror attacks in Brussels today. They are also upset that he’s in Cuba, that he is president and that he exists.

Of course, the majority of Republicans will prefer Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s immediate gut reaction, which is to abandon the Constitution and embrace rank religious discrimination and then, likely, invade the wrong country.

When Republicans reacted to the Paris attacks with the worst kind of demagoguery — or as Republicans call it, the best kind of demagoguery — the president remained steadfast and principled, which confused the media and heightened the attention focused on the right cowering at the prospect of child refugees standing in line next to them at Chipotle.

“Later, the president would say that he had failed to fully appreciate the fear many Americans were experiencing about the possibility of a Paris-style attack in the U.S. Great distance, a frantic schedule, and the jet-lag haze that envelops a globe-spanning presidential trip were working against him,” The Atlantic‘s Jeffery Goldberg wrote. “But he has never believed that terrorism poses a threat to America commensurate with the fear it generates.”

The president’s foreign policy has been summed up by Politico’s Michael Grunwald as “Don’t Do the Fucking Iraq War,” which I translate to mean also as “Don’t Let ISIS Force Us Into Doing the Kind of Dumb Shit That Created ISIS.”

But there is a broader mission to Obama’s presidency that gets minimized with this reductiveness: He’s absolutely fixated on doing what he can to stop climate change and he has a genuine interest in using diplomacy to help give people oppressed by brutal regimes a chance to engage with the world.

That’s why he has done more than every president combined to fight climate change, which wasn’t hard, and why he went to Paris in the aftermath of that horrid attack and stuck an agreement that’s our best hope of saving billions from untold misery. And that’s why he carried out his day in Havana in the wake of the carnage in Brussels knowing that Republicans would scream about “optics.”

President Obama rose to national prominence by speaking about erasing the perception of red and blue states. But it’s his tolerance for dissension, especially when it’s constructive dissension, that shows him to be a true patriot — someone who understands the virtue and wisdom of a free society.

From the president’s speech in Havana on Tuesday (this part begins around minute 18):

As Marti said, “Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy.” So, let me tell you what I believe. I can’t force you to agree. But you should know what I think.

I believe that every person should be equal, you should under the law.

Every child deserves the dignity that comes with education, health care and food on the table, and a roof over their heads.

I believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear.

To organize and to criticize their government and to protest peacefully, and that the rule of law should not include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights.

I believe that every person should have the freedom to practice their faiths peacefully and publicly.

And yes, I believe voters should be able to choose their governments in free and democratic elections.

Not everybody agrees with me on this, not everybody agrees with the American people on this. But I believe those human rights are universal.

I believe they are the rights of the American people, the Cuban people, and people around the world.

Now, there’s no secret that our governments disagree on many of these issues. I’ve had frank conversations with President Castro. For many years he’s pointed out the flaws in the American system. Economic inequality, the death penalty, racial discrimination, wars abroad.

That’s just a sample. He has a much longer list.

But here’s what the Cuban people need to understand. I welcome this open debate and dialogue. It’s good. It’s healthy. I’m not afraid of it. We do have too much money in American politics, but in America, it’s still possible for somebody like me, a child who was raised by single mom, a child of mixed race who did not have a lot of money to pursue and achieve the highest office in the land.

I don’t know how you could say this with any more clarity, or who could say this better.

He’s far from perfect — and I’m presently concerned about the growing numbers of ground troops Iraq, among other things — but his vehemence in pursuing diplomacy with Iran, a global climate change agreement and openness with Cuba speak to the truth in the hope he inspired, a hope that Republicans still mock.

They can mock all they want and pull back the hand he has reached out once he’s gone. That hope for creating the life you wish to live is what we deserve as Americans, though it’s too often reserved for those born into privilege.

Now the people of Cuba know what that hope looks like in the flesh.