By George E. Curry
Almost as surprising as Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first African American president is his success in not becoming a lame duck president, a term normally applied to a politically weakened outgoing president’s last two years in office.
Few presidents have been as lame as George W. Bush, who was largely dismissed in his last two years in office and so unpopular that Republicans did not want him to show up at the last Republican national convention of his tenure for fear of harming the GOP’s chances of winning the White House in 2008. Bush, acting as though he was in the federal witness protection program, didn’t appear, but that did not alter the outcome of the election.
Given the GOP’s extreme hostility toward Obama – with the open declaration by now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky] that his sole objective was to make Obama a one-term president – many expected Obama to be impotent as he limps out of office next year.
But they were in for a surprise as Obama transformed his campaign motto of “Yes, we can” to “Yes, we did.”
In the last year alone, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 prisoners incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, most of them drug related. He restored diplomatic relations with Cuba after a 50-year standoff, with each country reopening its embassy. President Obama issued an executive order allowing the parents of children born in the U.S. to remain in this country. He extended abortion coverage to Peace Corps volunteers who became pregnant as a result of rape, incest or life endangerment. And his administration raised the qualification for receiving overtime pay from $23,660 to $50,440.
Obama scored a major victory when, in the face of heated Republican opposition, he joined five other world leaders in curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Practically all of the Republicans running for president and their echo chamber, Fox News, have misrepresented the terms of the deal.
MediaMatters, the media watchdog group, provides extensive documentation in debunking myths created by conservative detractors. Among the myths: