President Barack Obama: the worst president since World War II. That’s what a new poll says.
Well, sorry, folks, but Obama is not the worst president — he is not even close to being the worst president. But he is by far the most disrespected president of modern times.
Is Obama worse than Jimmy Carter, who was paralyzed by the Iranians? Is he worse than George W. Bush, who started two wars and didn’t bother to pay for them? Worse than Richard M. Nixon, who was driven from office by scandal?
Of course not. But Obama is the most disrespected. And I’m not talking about people disagreeing with his policies. I’m talking about people attacking him because of the color of his skin and his supposed sexual preference.
Think I’m wrong? Think I’m overreacting?
Then how do you explain what occurred in recent days?
On Sunday, Obama was referred to as “The N——r in the White House” in a monthly newspaper publication in New York. The headline was on the top of Page 15 in the Westview News. The opinion piece criticizes what it calls the anti-black “racism” of far-right voters. While the piece is actually pro-Obama, readers correctly criticized the use of the slur in the headline.
On Thursday, comedian Joan Rivers called Obama “America’s first gay POTUS” and went on to say that first lady Michelle Obama is transgender. Rivers made the statement when asked if she believed the United States would ever see the first gay or female president.
She said: “We already have it with Obama, so let’s just calm down. You know Michelle (Obama) is a trans … A transgender. We all know it.”
When Rivers was asked to explain her comment, she responded, “I think it’s a compliment.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) accused Obama of ignoring the Constitution, calling it “utterly beneath the dignity of the office.” Boehner said he will sue the president.
Every president has his share of critics; every president is teased and treated unfairly from time to time. There were jokes about Nixon’s nose, and, of course, he resigned over the Watergate scandal. Bill Clinton was justifiably raked over the coals for his womanizing.
But the level of vitriol pitched at Obama and his wife is far beyond anything those other presidents ever faced. There are some people who don’t like Obama simply because he’s black.
I don’t remember anyone referring to Ronald Reagan as a gorilla. I don’t remember seeing likenesses of George W. Bush with bones coming out of his nose. I don’t remember the body shapes of other first ladies called into question. U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who attacked Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! healthy eating campaign, was overheard saying, “She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”
And how about National Rifle Association board member and conservative activist Ted Nugent? In May, he referred to Obama as a “subhuman mongrel.”
After all of that nonsense, I wasn’t surprised by the results of the July 2 Quinnipiac University poll that found 33 percent of American voters consider Obama the worst president since World War II.
Look, I’m not blinded by Obama’s blackness. He should be getting more done. He should be more vocal on racial issues. He should be speaking out about the epidemic of black-on-black shootings in cities such as Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit. Over the July 4 weekend in Chicago, 82 people were shot and 14 people were killed — and the Obama administration has not said a word about the mayhem.
He should be doing more to boost the economy. While the worst of the recession ended several years ago, there are still too many people struggling to hold on to their homes and pay their bills. And while the jobs are starting to come back, they are coming back far too slowly.
In 2006, Quinnipiac asked who was the “worst president” ever, and at the time, those polled chose then-President George W. Bush. That year, Bush was considered the worst president by 34 percent of those polled. Nixon was second at 17 percent; Clinton third at 16 percent; and Carter finished fourth at 13 percent. In the recent poll, Obama is considered the worst president by 33 percent; followed by Bush, Nixon and Carter.
Over time, the reputations of presidents often improve. Consider Reagan. After the Iran-Contra affair and numerous other mishaps in his second term, I’m surprised he is as respected as he seems to be today.
I’m not sure how historians will judge Obama. But I do know they will see the disrespect and outright hatred the president has faced while in office and wonder what kind of country could do this to its elected leader.
James E. Causey writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.