Nope. There was an 1880’s group of Birthers who targeted Chester Arthur just as they did with Barack Obama except there wasn’t any obvious underlying racism with Arthur as there was with Obama. Maybe they just didn’t like Arthur’s sweet beard and sideburns. Anyway, it was just as ridiculous then as it is today.
And Arthur didn’t have to provide any sort of birth certificate — long-form, short-form, or electronic (that would have been difficult) — he just said, “I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody’s damned business.”
His point was that true Islam is not the fanatic extremism of ISIS — that ISIS doesn’t represent true Muslims just as the Ku Klux Klan doesn’t represent true Christians. As extremists often do, ISIS has hijacked the Islamic faith and bastardized it for their own purposes; to true Muslims, they are apostates.
Many of the actions of ISIS are clearly haraam, beginning with the killing of other Muslims. They try to justify it in their sick ways, but they are not true Muslims. I’m no Islamic scholar or expert on theology, but I’ve read the Qu’ran and chapter 4, verse 93 doesn’t require deep study to understand that the actions of ISIS are haraam:
"But whoever kills a believer intentionally — his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment." — Qu’ran, 4:93
And volume 1, book 2, verse 46 of the Sahih al-Bukhari hadith collection states:
"The Prophet said, ‘Abusing a Muslim is Fusuq (an evil doing) and killing him is Kufr (disbelief.)" — Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:2:46
The President’s point was that by their actions, ISIS has shown that they are not representatives of true Islam.
President Clinton used to keep a moon rock nearby, though:
"I got NASA to loan me a moon rock, carbon-dated 3.6 billion years old. I put it on the table in the Oval Office and when people started the crazy stuff, I’d say, ‘Wait a minute, guys. See that rock? It’s 3.6 billion years old. We’re all just passing through. Take a deep breath, calm down, let’s see what makes sense.’ It had an incredible calming effect!"
That’s definitely the problem. We know the only way to combat ISIS, but it is 2014 and we want to feel like we are a civilized people, and we just can’t bring ourselves to say how we have to fight them.
There is a reason that the President and leading officials in the U.S. government keep saying that we will “destroy ISIS”. It’s the mildest possible way to describe what we have to do. They know how horrific it sounds to acknowledge the real strategy for defeating this particular group. No one wants to hear the President of the United States say, “Our plan is to kill all of them. We can’t simply disrupt their capabilities or capture their leaders — we are going to kill every single ISIS terrorist.” And you can be damn sure that the President doesn’t want to have to say that. But let’s not fool ourselves — that’s the strategy.
First of all, nobody on Duck Dynasty should ever be taken seriously, especially when it comes to foreign policy. “Convert them or kill them” is literally the exact same mission statement that ISIS has. So, fuck Duck Dynasty and everybody involved in it. This issue probably shouldn’t be decided by someone on a reality show who is just as religiously fanatic as the ISIS terrorists, but instead of having ridiculous beards and beheading people, they have ridiculous beards and have something to do with ducks (I assume that’s what they are about. I’ve never watched the show because I’m not…you know…an idiot.)
As for President Obama not having a strategy, that’s not accurate; the Obama White House just has the worst Communications team in Presidential history. It’s actually remarkable how terrible Obama’s Communications strategy has been — for BOTH terms — considering the main strategy of the 2008 election was telling personal stories and delivering a solid message. I sat in Camp Obama in San Francisco for three days in August 2007 learning the importance of message, message, message, and seven years later (Holy shit, seven years!?), the Obama White House fumbles everything that it doesn’t punt. In 2012, I did a semi-live blog of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and this is what I wrote when Bill Clinton spoke:
"Clinton is just straight breaking down everything that’s happened from 2009 until today, why it has happened, and what it means for you. If he can’t be President anymore, can we just have him explain everything that our government does? Would anyone have an issue with that?"
As I said back then, can’t we just make Bill Clinton the National “Where’s What Happened?” Czar?
One last point about ISIS or ISIL or IS (for a barbaric terrorist group with such high-quality production value, you’d think they’d do a better job of branding) — it’s not that the Obama Administration doesn’t have a strategy; they just don’t know how to explain the fact that this can’t ever be a traditional war or military intervention. ISIS isn’t going to throw away their arms, shed their uniforms, and run into the desert. ISIS isn’t going to renounce their ways and there isn’t going to be some de-ISISfication. ISIS isn’t going to be pounded into submission, sign a peace treaty on a warship, and then train to be a legitimate police force. ISIS is the Mujahideen in Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion. ISIS is those Japanese soldiers in World War II who wouldn’t surrender and wouldn’t believe anybody who told them that the Emperor DID surrender, so they kept hiding in some jungle on a remote Pacific island for 40 years. ISIS isn’t a group of Iraqis or Syrians fomenting terror against their own government. ISIS is a band of terrorists from all over the globe — including Americans and the British — who genuinely believe that they are creating an Islamic Caliphate that will take over the world. Syria and Iraq isn’t the goal; it’s their launching pad.
I don’t know how to solve the problem. I know that the United States can’t do it alone, and I know that a coalition should include a significant, leading role for the Arab states because they should be scared to death by ISIS. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt — they should all realize that they are next on the ISIS list. But that coalition needs to be built soon and it needs to be built carefully because what happens if ISIS attacks Israel? Israel won’t hesitate to fight back or to protect itself, and then we’d see Israel’s traditional enemies in a position where they can’t fight ISIS overtly because allying themselves with Israel would be unpopular with the Muslim majorities within their countries. And that would open up even more opportunities for ISIS to gain footholds in other countries in the region and destabilize it even further. This is a frightening situation.
Well, let’s be clear, for the Democrats to miraculously win both chambers of Congress in November, it would require a more serious wound than the GOP shooting itself in the foot. Both parties shoot each of their members in both feet almost as a requirement for taking your seat in the House and Senate; so, it’s definitely not happening.
But, yes, if Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, President Obama would still have time to get some things done — roughly from the day the new Congressional session began (January 3, 2015) until the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the summer of 2016. After the nominating conventions, all eyes turn to the general election, of course, but more crucially, members of Congress (particularly the House since all members face re-election) focus on their own campaigns and get very cautious. But for those 18 months or so, the President could definitely get some things done, and would be smart to push through immigration reform and try to shore up the liberal side of the Supreme Court since it’s up-in-the-air who the next President will be and it’s impossible to say whether there would be favorable conditions for confirmation in the 115th Congress that starts in 2017.
It’s not happening, though. And, conversely, if the Republicans win both chambers of Congress on November 4th, President Obama becomes a lame-duck President before he eats breakfast on the morning of November 5th.
Vice Presidents always tend to be easy targets and since Biden is so affable and open, people seem to underestimate him. Quite frankly, I don’t know where the Obama Administration would be without Vice President Biden. It’s no secret that Obama has been terrible with building relationships with Congress (and that’s certainly not solely his fault), and can be aloof at times because that’s just one of his personality characteristics — he’s not cold, he’s just a very serious, focused, cautious person. On the other hand, Biden is open and candid — sometimes to a fault — and it makes it easy to poke fun at him. Biden lacks a filter and often says things that he probably shouldn’t say — not necessarily because he’s saying something inappropriate, but more so because he’s so authentic. Like I said, some people find that to be a fault, but I find that to be incredibly refreshing, especially in a political leader who has basically spent his entire adult life in elective office.
But Biden has built bridges between the White House and Congress that have helped accomplish the big things that the Obama Administration has actually been able to get done. That’s because of Biden’s masterful political skills and the relationships and connections that Biden forged through nearly 40 years in the Senate. Biden likes to be underestimated because Biden knows exactly how gifted he is. He has never lacked that confidence — not even when he first ran for the Senate. I mean, Joe Biden is a guy who was so confident in himself that he ran for the Senate (and won) even though he wasn’t yet Constitutionally eligible to actually take his seat until a few weeks after the election.
Plus, a lot of people don’t truly know Joe Biden’s story. They know that he’s been around forever and that he spent decades in the Senate, but he’s never been the stereotypical fat cat incumbent clinging to his spot on Capitol Hill. Biden has always been active, always been a fighter, and always been straightforward. Biden earned everything that he has ever obtained and he worked for the people of his constituency in Delaware every day since his 1972 election, and he’s continued that work on behalf of the people of the United States every single day since he was elected Vice President. I wish that everyone would read more about Joe Biden, learn his story, and see how much he has overcome and how hard he has worked to get to where he is today — Jules Witcover’s Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption (BOOK | KINDLE) is a great place to start.
On a personal basis, I don’t hesitate to stay that Vice President Biden is probably my favorite politician alive today; it’s a close race between Biden and Bill Clinton. But from a professional standpoint — removing any of my personal biases or political beliefs from the equation — I think Joe Biden is probably the best Vice President in American history. Dick Cheney was a more powerful Vice President, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into excellence. Al Gore was the most influential VP up to that point, but his relationship with President Clinton wasn’t as symbiotic as Biden and Obama’s. Barack Obama is the mind and the conscience of the Obama Administration, but Joe Biden is the heart and soul.
44th President of the United States (2009- )
Full Name: Barack Hussein Obama II
Born: August 4, 1961, Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii
Political Party: Democratic
State Represented: Illinois
Term: January 20, 2009-
Age at Inauguration: 47 years, 167 days
Administration: 56th and 57th
Congresses: 111th, 112th, and 113th
Vice President: Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden, Jr. (2009- )
Age at Death:
2012 Dead Presidents Ranking: 28 of 43 [↓2]
In 2012, I ranked Barack Obama at 28th but noted that he probably would have been ranked two spots lower if I had written my rankings two weeks earlier, before Chief Justice John Roberts had cast the deciding vote to uphold Obama’s landmark health care reform legislation. I also wrote that if he were reelected later that year, he’d probably climb even higher in the next rankings because if you get reelected, it means you must be doing something right, and a second term allows Presidents to really build a legacy. Two years later, I have Obama two spots lower than he was in 2012, and I think that I still might have him ranked too high. And I worked for Obama in 2008 and nearly took another job with his campaign in 2012. But Obama’s second term has been disastrous — the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was botched; Guantanamo Bay is still open; troops are still fighting in Afghanistan; Iraq is falling apart; the economy hasn’t rebounded; and if the Republicans win control of the Senate on the first Tuesday in November, Obama will become the lamest-duckiest of lame-duck Presidents on the first Wednesday in November. Now, not all of these things are Obama’s fault — he inherited a mess from George W. Bush and he’s battled an obstructionist Congress almost since Inauguration Day. But politics require compromises, compromises require cooperation, and cooperation requires relationships. The relationship between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch is perhaps at the lowest point in history, and even when factoring in how awful many of the members of Congress (on both sides of the aisle) are, a big part of the poor relationship between the White House and the Capitol IS Barack Obama’s fault. It’s always difficult to rank recent Presidents and almost impossible to rank incumbent Presidents, but Obama’s legacy is heading in the wrong direction.
1948: Schlesinger Sr./Life Magazine: Not Ranked
1962: Schlesinger Sr./New York Times Magazine: Not Ranked
1982: Neal/Chicago Tribune Magazine: Not Ranked
1990: Siena Institute: Not Ranked
1996: Schlesinger Jr./New York Times Magazine: Not Ranked
2000: C-SPAN Survey of Historians: Not Ranked
2000: C-SPAN Public Opinion Poll: Not Ranked
2005: Wall Street Journal/Presidential Leadership: Not Ranked
2009: C-SPAN Survey of Historians: Not Ranked
2010: Siena Institute: 15 of 43
2011: University of London’s U.S. Presidency Centre: Not Ranked