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October 12, 2012

The Last Affirmative Action President?

Joe Charlebois

The election of Barack H. Obama in 2008 was indeed an historic one. As the son of a Kenyan father and American mother, Mr. Obama is the first man of color elected to the highest office in the land.


He was the also the first affirmative action president. It would be untrue to say our nation elected Mr. Obama because of a stellar résumé. We elected him because he was a charismatic, eloquent, confident young man with dark skin.


Mr. Obama, of course, is running for re-election with running mate and Vice President Joe Biden. In the course of American history 42 men have preceded Mr. Obama in office. Nine of those men who have sought re-election have failed in their bid for a second term. Only two of those nine presidents have lost their bids since the Great Depression.


The first of those two was Jimmy Carter. In 1980 Mr. Carter failed in his attempt to become the first Democrat to earn a second term since Franklin D. Roosevelt when he lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Mr. Carter’s administration was never successful.  The economy remained in shambles, American pride was on life support and 52 Americans were held hostage in Iran for the last 444 days of his administration.


George H.W. Bush failed in his bid in 1992 to secure his second term after being unable to keep key promises, prevent an economic downturn, or maintain the nationalistic euphoria of military success. Bill Clinton followed Mr. Bush and went on to serve two consecutive terms, beating Mr. Bush soundly in 1992.


Now we have President Obama following Mr. Carter’s example of presidential stewardship. He has a similarly bad economy, deterioration of foreign leadership and alliances, and perceived weakness in our enemies’ eyes.


According to Gallup, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Carter sustained “job approval” percentage rates in the 20’s while running for re-election. Mr. Obama does sustain an approval rate much higher. His rate has been below 50% for most of the year, while hitting a low of 38% a year ago.


We now face the choice of re-hiring Mr. Obama or turning over the keys to the White House to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.


This choice should be made strictly on job performance and history. And if Mr. Obama’s job performance is to be judged with objective, color-blind reasoning, he should be fired.


Our economy has seen significant rises in the number of truly out of work or underemployed Americans. Millions more are on food stamps. Millions more are in poverty. The “tax” of increased prices at the fuel pump and grocery store leave less for Americans to use in discretionary spending.


There are those who reflect the population at large who will still vote for Mr. Obama because of his skin color – Samuel L. Jackson. Still others will not vote for him again because they are judging the president on his record and not his skin color like “Clueless” actress Stacy Dash.


We cannot afford to elect or re-elect a president through affirmative action. We must look at the candidates through the lens of objectivity.


Has the current president taken our country in the right direction? Does he deserve a second term?


We should also question the challenger to determine what he would do differently.


But most of all we should judge the candidates, as Ms. Dash stated intoning the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. We should judge the candidates on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.


We can’t afford to ignore the history of this administration. They have failed.


Mr. Obama’s first term should be the first and last for an affirmative action presidency.


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