Last night, as we watched CNN coverage of the dismal New Hampshire primary and discussed some of the ill-advised policies of the leading candidates, a friend commented that he misses the Reagan years and another noted that even the Bush Gore election season was more civilized than this. There's so much fear-mongering and mud-slinging, and so little substantive debate and mutual respect. We're watching unprincipled clowns, not statesmen. After reading this David Brooks op-ed this morning, I had a think about the Obama presidency and Obama the man, and I agree with some of Brooks' main points, particularly that he "radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners, and elegance." Though I have not agreed with most of his policies over the past eight years, and have been exasperated by his foreign policy particularly, I certainly prefer him to Clinton, Sanders, Trump, and Cruz, and would be tempted to vote for him again given the current state of affairs.
". . .a sense of basic humanity. Donald Trump has spent much of this campaign vowing to block Muslim immigration. You can only say that if you treat Muslim Americans as an abstraction. President Obama, meanwhile, went to a mosque, looked into people’s eyes and gave a wonderful speech reasserting their place as Americans.
He’s exuded this basic care and respect for the dignity of others time and time again. Let’s put it this way: Imagine if Barack and Michelle Obama joined the board of a charity you’re involved in. You’d be happy to have such people in your community. Could you say that comfortably about Ted Cruz? The quality of a president’s humanity flows out in the unexpected but important moments."