Civilization Or Savagery?
Why we should Support President Obama and the Democrats
When Sister Betty Dopson called me about participating in a debate evaluating the performance of President Barack Obama I told her that I would welcome a chance to engage this question with thoughtful black folks under certain conditions. Then I wrote the conditions out and posted them on Face Book.
The rules are simple. Our debate must center on politics and policy; not religion, philosophy, ideology, our hopes and dreams, or political fantasies. If these issues were going to be the topics of discussion I felt she would fare far better by calling Drs. Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson; who are popping up everywhere these days bashing Obama; spouting mumbo jumbo masquerading as wisdom.
The increasing theatricality of this duos performance is creating a sensation on the political chittlin circuit; the boys are really rocking the house. One learned friend and well seasoned soldier in the struggle said he checked them out recently and they looked like a high brow rap duo. So I decided to give them stage names befitting their act: “Professor Longhair and Chilly D. Knowledge, the Hip Hop Philosophers!” Professor Longhair has already recorded a rap album, which hastened his departure from Harvard Yard, from whence he fled to Princeton, one of the whitest towns in the world; in spite of George Curry’s futile pleas for him to spend some time at a black college.
Chilly D Knowledge has not only publicly expressed his desire to record a rap record, he is subject to break out in a rap routine right in the middle of an academic discourse. I’ve witness his act on more than one occasion. Since Fess Longhair has called for critiques of President Obama, I decided to give them a taste of their own medicine and critique them!
Alas, after subjecting their pugnacious polemics to rigorous examination, I don’t find that these Hip-Hop philosopher’s critique of President Obama makes much more sense than the nonsense routinely spouted by other rappers …which, needless to say, portends disaster! If that’s the best we can expect from our most highly trained minds, we are in big trouble indeed! But I am getting ahead of the story; I shall have more to say about these two Ivy League trained rappers later.
I have come before you this afternoon to talk about the President’s politics and policy, viewed within the context of the political realities of American society at the moment. Something usually left out and ignored by Obama’s critics. They simply select those facts that fit their ideological predispositions devoid of context; yet facts mean nothing without the proper context.
Let me begin by offering a working definition of what I mean by politics and policy. By politics I am referring to the process by which human beings create and shape relationships of power. And power is the ability to do what you want to do when you want to do it; the ability to get others to do what you want them to do when you want them to do it, and the ability to get the most and the best of whatever there is to get. Last, but certainly not least: Politics is the art of the possible!
If it is not possible it is not politics and belongs in the realm of religion, philosophy or wishful thinking! Areas of debate that I have vowed to avoid. However just for the record: As a human being I too have hopes, dreams and fantasies. But I know how to distinguish them from reality. Unfortunately, the political ideologues and religious mystics cannot. It is this distinction that I wish to make clear today.
By policy, I am referring to the choices the Obama Administration has made in addressing major problems – foreign and domestic. I am speaking to the President’s Agenda, his vision for the nation and the world, as expressed in presidential edicts, legislative initiatives and international diplomacy. I have followed his presidency closely; in fact I have posted over 150 essays online analyzing all of his major moves in foreign and domestic policy.
It is as if I have been looking over his shoulder while also watching the opposition’s hand in the mirror. The central question I seek to address today is whether President Obama has played the horrendous hand he was dealt upon entering the Oval Office as well as it could be played under the circumstances – the realpolitique.
My admiration for the brilliance of the President’s vision, and his performance in trying to convert his vision into the policy of the US government and the law of the land, is unambiguous and unequivocal. Barack Hussein Obama is the most humane, talented and visionary President in the history of the United States! And he is the most progressive Chief Executive who is likely to occupy the Oval Office in our lifetime. Hence I believe we must seize this moment and rally round the president and the democrats…the consequences of the Tea Party taking over the government are too horrifying to contemplate.
On the other hand, I am convinced that if we restore the People’s House – where all revenue bills originate – to the Democratic Party, and reelect the President, we will witness a neo-Periclean age in America! Like the rule of Pericles during the golden age of ancient Greece, with a Democratic Congress supporting him, President Obama’s second term would be characterized by a halcyon era of public building and radical but humane restructuring of the American economy so that we would again lead the world in economic productivity and technological innovation.
Our lives would also be immeasurably enhanced by a flourishing of science and the arts. All this would be made possibly through the agency of the government and paid for from the public purse. This is anathema to the Republicans, who took the country in a very different direction for eight years. Thus it will require a radical reversal from the course the Republicans have set the country on, and that has caused the President to spend much of the first two years just trying to turn the ship of state around.
That’s why the President is trying his best to repeal the Bush tax cuts, withdraw the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and cease open ended American involvement in foreign wars. He wants to invest these resources in rebuilding our nation instead. One need only look at the major themes of Barack Obama’s vision for America in order to recognize what he is about. The President is a visionary, a man with his eyes planted firmly on the prize: and that prize is winning the future. He is a pragmatic technocrat not an ideologue; he is interested in getting things done; not winning name calling contests or esoteric ideological debates.
This is what has gotten him in trouble with the left intelligentsia and many Black Nationalists – who are content with being confined to effete debating societies on the fringe of American political life, with no hope of taking power and actually having to solve real problems. Sometimes I get the feeling that they would be satisfied if Barack would just haul off and tell those racist right-wing white folks to kiss him where the sun don’t shine, even if he never passed a Bill! But such people are clueless about the political process; they simply don’t understand how the game goes. We must not listen to them!
Barack on the other hand is a master of the game; he is a highly intelligent man who does his homework. A refreshing alternative to George Bush: Dirty Dick Cheney’s poodle who couldn’t tell his rectum from a hole in the ground! This President fully comprehends the issues. For instance, Barack clearly understands that much of the unemployment problem is structural rather than cyclical.
Hence the real answer to the employment problem in the short term is to use the government as employer of last resort and put people to work rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, while fully funding our scientific community to conduct the research and development that will create the new economy and produce the jobs of the future.
That’s what the stimulus bill was all about. Although Paul Krugman – a Nobel Laureate in Economics, Princeton Professor and New York Times columnist – argued the stimulus should have been twice as large, and history has proved him right, the Republicans are still using it against the President, even among people his measures has helped. But Barack did the best he could with the Congress refusing to add more.
Further evidence that the president has his eye on the future can be found in the fact that he has placed the highest priority on educational excellence and is willing to fully fund a system that can dramatically raise the level of educational achievement. Nobody knows better than him the value of a great education – indeed he and our First Lady are the quintessential examples of what a great education can do.
Thus their very presence in the public eye is an inspiration to millions of American youths who were not born to wealthy or influential families. The President also understands that some of our brightest minds are born into poor families, and he knows that in order for our country to compete with the rest of the world – especially the emerging Asian countries – we are going to have to make a first class education available to all of our children.
This is of special importance to African Americans, who desperately need all of the help we can get in the matter of education! Barack Obama sitting in the Oval Office is the only thing that prevents the Republicans from further defunding public education in favor of a voucher system that will fund private segregated schools with public money. He is trying his best, against odds that often appear insurmountable, to transform his vision for educating American children into government policy.
Yet when discussing policy choices one must be ever mindful that there is an opposition party, the Republicans aka the GOP – Grand Obstructionist Party! - and their leadership vowed from the outset that their paramount goal will be to see to it that Barack Obama’s presidency fails, forcing him to leave office in defeat and disgrace after one term. They would then nullify every gain the American people have made under President Obama; as they have already begun to do in the Republican controlled House of Representatives where they are refusing to fund the new health initiative, the Evironmental Protection Agency and the new financial regulation laws aimed at curbing the excesses of Wall Street.
Then these radical, racist, White Nationalists would use Barack’s failure as irrefutable evidence that no black man, or half black man sired by a full blooded African, can manage the affairs of the most powerful nation in the world – even if he and his African father both earned graduate degrees from Harvard. The widely respected right wing pundit Patrick J. Buchanan has already said as much in his vociferous criticism of the President’s appointment of Justice Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. He insisted that she was unqualified in spite of having graduated with honors from Yale, the nation’s most respected school for the study of Constitutional Law.
For most of the history of this country it was taken as a scientific certainty that mixed blood people were inferior to both full blooded whites and blacks. In the 19th century both black and white intellectuals believed this. This conception of mixed race people was unique to the world. Everywhere else – Africa, Asia and Latin America – people who are mixed with Europeans, Arabs or Asians were considered inferior to whites but superior to blacks.
As Dr. Renee C. Romano shows in her book, “Race Mixing, a seminal text published by the Harvard University Press, all through the twentieth century it was considered a disgrace for a white woman to bear a black man’s child. It was almost invariably viewed as evidence of a character flaw or mental illness in the white woman.
Given this history, need I argue that if Barack should go down in flames and disgrace it would be an existential disaster for the status of all African peoples in the estimation of a racist world; a world that has justified our oppression for centuries on the argument that we are inherently inferior to the lighter races in intellectual capacity. This is an inconvenient truth for the rabid black Obama bashers. Some folks might even view their reckless rhetoric as evidence that blacks are so confused if just left alone they will destroy each other on their own.
But the White Nationalist are not going to leave it to misguided blacks, they are determined to do all they can to destroy the Presidency of Barack Obama too. The brilliant comedian Wanda Sykes put it best when she observed at the White house Correspondent’s Dinner last year, some of the things said by Republican politicians and their shills at the FOX Television Network, and WABC AM – the White Apartheid Broadcast company, border on treason. But they hide behind the First Amendment.
Thus the government can do nothing to restrain them as the sow discord among the American people for a living. The media corporations employ them for as long as they can because they get great ratings. But considering the potential these guys have for destabilizing the country by inciting the untutored mob to irrational acts, these media corporations are proof of Karl Marx’s observation: “A true capitalist will sell a hangman the rope to hang him with if he thinks he can make a profit!
The unceasing racist invective hurled at this President, and the mounting death threats are unprecedented. Barack’s picture is the favorite target used by white militiamen, and the Secret Service says they are getting four times the volume of assassination threats they have received for every other President! I have publicly accused Sean Hannity of trying to get the President assassinated.
You can witness it on YouTube, when me and the activist media watchdog Scott Pellegrino tried to crash the “Talkers Magazine” convention and disrupt the presentation of a “Lifetime Achievement” Award to Bob Grant – the father of the present generation of racist verbal arsonists! I notice that all of the Barack’s critics were missing in action on that one, when he was only a candidate. And they are still missing in action now that he is President, when it comes to opposing or critiquing the verbal arsonists who launch barrages of racist lies about him every day!
These media myth makers are creating a separate reality, fabricating “facts” that don’t exist. They are confusing a lot of people who simply are not paying close enough attention, or have the basic knowledge of the issues to distinguish fact from fiction. One wise wag has observed: “It is not what you don’t know that is most dangerous; it is what you think you know that is untrue which constitutes the greatest danger!”
This is why racist right wing verbal arsonist like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and others of their ilk must be opposed. They are spreading dangerous disinformation, and it is the responsibility of progressive intellectuals and artist to respond with counter-statements.
As Harold Cruse pointed out nearly fifty years ago, the mass media can be as formidable a weapon as the military in persuading people to do one’s bidding. In America today, where the masses are addicted to bread and circuses, the comedians can play a powerful role in parodying and ridiculing the Republican reactionaries. Yet while Saturday Night Live has been great at this, Wanda Sykes is the only black stand-up comedian that I’ve see who is ridiculing some of these characters on the right with brilliance, candor, and even militancy.
She riotously funny too; which is of critical importance, because as Mao Tse Tung pointed out during the great revolution that ushered China into the modern world: “All art is propaganda, but not all propaganda is art. In order for art to be effective as propaganda, it must first succeed as art!” This is why we need our greatest artists in the fight.
I was waiting for a killer routine from the gifted comic Chris Rock. But then I saw him on Oprah yesterday. After telling us how brilliant she thinks Mr. Rock’s commentaries on the News are, the Queen of Empty Headed Chatter asked him about three big stories in the news: Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, and the Tea Party. It didn’t take long to recognize the sad fact that the killer routine that could reduce the Republican icons to cartoon characters, figures of ridicule, would not be forthcoming from this comic. The rappers could also be a powerful weapon against right-wing reactionaries; with their vast popularity among youths of all colors and nationalities… but they are too busy selling wolf tickets to each other.
Therefore the responsibility of repudiating the dangerous propaganda of the right wing Republican shills in the media – print and broadcast – falls to the writers and intellectuals, who are best equipped to do it. But the three most vocal black intellectuals – Drs. Cornell West, Michael Eric Dyson and Boyce Watkins, all pampered professors in rich white Universities – are avid Obama bashers! Instead of opposing and exposing the lies of the Tea Party Republicans, who are out to crush us all and strangle our dreams, they appear to be competing with racist far right fanatics to see who can dog Barack the most! Right now, as far as I can see, they are running neck and neck!
It matters but little that the Tea Party is coming from the right, and the black Obama bashers are coming from the left, when we look at the results it is a distinction without a difference! As the black numbers wizard Charles Blow, an op-ed columnist with the New York Times, recently pointed out: If all other groups vote just as they did in the last election, but ten percent of black people stay home, Barack will lose the next election and the Republicans will assume the reins of power.
Hence the black Obama bashers will have aided the Tea Party takeover of the government. And while they will suffer little from the fallout in their plush academic enclaves, removed from the turmoil that will follow, unemployed working class and formerly middle class public sector workers in general, and black people in particular, will face a cavalcade of horrors!
Right-wing mass media has been a critical force in manufacturing and shaping the rage against President Obama amongst racist economically insecure working and middle class whites; the people who make up the core of the Tea Party. Some of their propaganda has even influenced the opinions of a segment of the African American population too. KRS1 and some other clueless rappers have been distributing a video produced by right-wing propagandists for instance.
I fell out of favor with a friend in Atlanta because she objected to my writing a commentary calling Glen Beck a con-man who was inciting mentally instable whites to violence. She wrote me a scathing letter telling me that Beck was “A man of God who was speaking for all Americans who think the country was heading in the wrong direction.” I cannot repeat what I told her in the House of God, but suffice it to say that we unfriended each other on Facebook and have not spoken since!
The right-wing media have a fertile field to work in, since well over 50% of white folks voted against Barack. These disgruntled whites have been outraged about their loss ever since. They remind me of the “Lost Cause” crowd among white southerners in the years following their defeat in the Civil War. In fact their language and the language the Lost Cause fanatics employed are similar: “We want our country back!”
They talk as if the United States has been occupied by a foreign power. I am convinced that millions of white Americans feel a physical revulsion every time they see a picture of the President or the first family chilling in the White House; even as beautiful as they are. In a country where millions of citizens were not blinded by racism they would be the model of the family that every parent dreamed their kids would have. Cause there may be bugs on some of those Washington mugs…but ain’t no flies on the Obama’s.
Yet, despite all of the hatred flowing from the right-wing media, and the wish washy support from the left, Barack Obama has amassed an impressive record of achievement that will be given high marks by future historians. The day after he won the Presidency I presented a commentary on WBAI raising the question “What Is To Be Done?” I said the two most pressing problems that commanded the immediate attention of the new president was stabilizing the crumbling world financial structure, which would stave off a devastating economic collapse, and negotiating a New Nuclear Arms agreement with Russia.
Barack handled both of these monumental problems with the intelligence and grace of an experienced Statesman. Watching him perform I had the same feeling I felt when I first saw him speak at the Democratic convention that nominated John Kerry. I was so impressed that I sat right down and wrote a commentary titled “Hope Is Reborn In Bean Town,” in which I argued that he was the future of the Democratic party! Four years later he was President of the United States! And he has met every challenge in the same way, with great intelligence and exceptional judgment, as he won one victory after another on behalf of the American people.
Of all the spurious and unfair charges leveled against the President, the most bizarre is the charge from the black Obama bashers that “He ain’t done nothing for black people!” My first response to this bogus charge is to say to the accusers: “You define your humanity too narrowly.” I am a homo Saipan, an inhabitant of planet earth, a citizen of the United States of America, a senior citizen, and a black man who is a member of the working class.
Hence anything the President does to save the planet is good for me. Anything he does that strengthens America is good for me. Anything he does that helps senior citizens is good for me. Anything he does that benefits the working class is good for me. And they are good for all black people. Since the last time I looked, like the 18th century scientist Benjamin Banneker described himself to Thomas Jefferson: “I am a negro of the deepest dye.”
Anything the President does for women, Like the Lilly Ledbetter Act for instance, which makes it illegal to pay a female worker less money for the same work as a male, is a Godsend for the black community, because most black children are living in female headed households. Thus, like most of the benefits from the President’s legislative victories, black people benefit as much or more than any other group of Americans.
Anything the President does to make health care more affordable, or extend the age under which children can stay on their parent’s health insurance is good for the black community. Removing banks from the college loan business and thus reducing the payments on student loans is good for us. Drastically reducing the disparity between the penalties for powder and crack cocaine helps the black community!
The 20 billion dollar clean-up fund for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico helps the blacks who make their living in the sea food business. Approving the payout of 1.5 billion to black farmers for past discrimination against them by the Agricultural Department obviously benefits black people. When president Obama saved the Auto-industry he saved three million jobs in the mid-west, many of them held by black workers who would have been reduced to poverty!
Barack also signed an executive order – “The President’s Initiative on Historically Black colleges and Universities” – which increased government aid to these critical institutions by 100 million dollars and rescued many of them from bankruptcy. This will save more than a few of our future scholars and leaders. The President has also has resurrected the moribund EEOC, and doubled its budget! Plus he appointed a brilliant black attorney to head the Justice Department, which explains why these white militiamen can’t take a crap without the FBI watching!
Alas, instead of applause for a job well done under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, the President has been called everything but a child of God by fire breathing racist and free market zealots on the right, and petulant disgruntled ideologues on the left. He is always judged by the things he has been unable to achieve rather than his spectacular successes.
Even his humanitarian mission on behalf of the beleaguered Libyan rebels is being painted as an imperialist attack on an African nation by the left and clueless Black Nationalists. Before he acted much of the left was calling for him to aid the rebels. By the way, I opposed the mission; but not for the reasons given by these factions. I opposed it because we can’t afford it.
We cannot continue to expend American blood and treasure in foreign wars attempting to reshape the world in our image. I believe that we should reduce the vast military budget by half and scrap the idea that we are the planetary policemen. Which is a worldview anchored in the dangerous and bogus doctrine of “American Exceptionalism!”
In fact, I think we should follow the Chinese example and quit meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. But as a member of a minority in a racist country whose people have faced the possibility of genocide, and my Native American ancestors were the victims of genocidal treatment by the European settlers who became white Americans, I can never be against intervention wherever there is the possibility of genocide. I say send in the Marines to stop it! Preferably with UN sanction.
However it has not escaped my notice that many of the same characters, who are denouncing the humanitarian mission in Libya, are the same people who denounced President Clinton for not preventing the genocide in Rawanda. Even though the only way that genocidal attack could have been prevented was by attacking the would be perpetrators before they launched their attack. Had this happened I’m certain that we would have heard the same hue and cry of “imperialist aggression” on the part of the US.
Unfortunately the subject of American foreign policy is too complex for me to tackle within the time frame allotted to me. But I have written at length on the foreign policy of the Obama administration, and I have written nine pieces analyzing the complexities of the present uprising in the Arab world. My three thousand word commentary, “The Iraq Attack: Bush’s March of folly,” published on the eve of the invasion of Iraq and presented over WBAI, now reads like prophecy. They are all posted on my blog. But if you are interested in my views on the subject put your questions to me during the Q&A.
It is enough to recognize that the Republicans opposed everything that President Obama has achieved on our behalf. And these are life enhancing – indeed life saving – achievements. It does not require a novelist’s imagination to conceptualize how different life would be if the Republicans controlled the white house and the Congress.
All you need do is look at the savagery of the so-called “Prosperity Budget” of Congressman Paul Ryan to understand that the choice in the coming presidential elections is a choice between civilization and savagery. I believe that any black person who advises other black people not to work and vote for Barack Obama and the democrats is a fool, a charlatan, or a traitor to their race!
A Speech by Playthell Benjamin
Presented to the Committee Against Media Offensive to African People
Queens New York City, April 24, 2011
Barack Obama’s Record as a State Senator and US Senator
During the first -8- eight years of his elected service Senator Obama has written 890 bills and co-sponsored another 1096. Now, I would list them all but Obama’s list is simply too long, so I’ll mainly categorize them.
He either wrote or co-sponsored the following as a State Senator:
233 bills regarding healthcare reform,
125 bills on poverty and public assistance,
112 crime fighting bills,
97 economic bills,
60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills,
21 ethics reform bills,
15 gun control,
6 veteran’s affairs and many others.
His first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored 152 bills and co-sponsored another 427. These included:
**the Coburn-Obama Government Transparency Act of 2006 – became law,
**The Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act, – became law,
**The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed the Senate,
**The 2007 Government Ethics Bill, – became law, and
**The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill, In committee
Barack’s Accomplishments As President
On the environment:
* Included funding for “green” jobs in the stimulus bill
* Initiated first steps to develop a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide
* Dedicated more than $60 billion for clean energy
* Instituted “cash for clunkers,” getting more fuel efficient cars on the street
* Acknowledges reality of climate change and his desire to work on an international policy like Kyoto
* Emphasized the value of science (not political opinion) within the EPA
* Allocated $2 billion in stimulus cash for advanced batteries systems (for automobiles)
* Declared (via EPA) carbon dioxide a threat to health, the first step towards regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act
* Funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which gives $2.8 billion to cities
* Put over 2 million acres of wilderness, thousands of miles of river and a host of national trails and parks under federal protection, the largest conservation effort in 15 years
* Funding a $475 million initiative to restore and clean the Great Lakes
* Overturned the federal funding ban for stem cell research
* Instituted better standards for comparative research in medicine and an agency to handle this
* Added staff to the FDA and brought back emphasis on science
* Allocated over $1 billion to the National Institutes of Health, whose budget Bush let stagnate
* Eliminated funding for abstinence-only education
* Signed an executive order repealing the “Mexico City policy” or “global gag rule” that withheld U.S. funds from organizations that discuss or provide family planning services abroad
* Announced US would resume contributions to the UN population fund for family planning and more than double the previous contribution made in 2001
* Appropriated $19 billion in the stimulus package to help implement an electronic medical record system
* Set aside billions in budget to overhaul the health care system
* Enacted Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization, providing healthcare to 11 million children
* Established 65% COBRA subsidy for 7 million unemployed Americans
* Allocated $1 billion for prevention and wellness programs
* Provided $87 billion to states to bolster their Medicaid programs during the downturn
* Increased funding for urban HIV/AIDS Prevention and Awareness
On Education, Equality, Public Safety, Families, etc.:
* Expressed a desire to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
* Described the Defense of Marriage Act as “unfair” and “discriminatory” and said they supported it being overturned
* Includes atheists in his definition of Americans
* Extended tax credits for mothers to return to college, for tuition, and for college textbook purchases
* Has agreed to make the visitors’ lists to the White House public
* Signed executive order requiring Guantanamo to be closed within 1 year and allocated funds/personnel for that purpose
* Included provision in stimulus legislation that, for the first time, supported the ideas of Net Neutrality-like non-discrimination and openness for the Internet
* The administration demonstrated a new commitment to fighting for change on the UN Human Rights Council by announcing it will run for a seat next year, reversing the Bush administration boycott
* Announced that the U.S. will support a United Nations declaration urging nations to decriminalize homosexuality
* Created office of Urban Policy
* Gave Department of Justice $2 billion for Byrne Grants, which funds anti-gang and anti-gun task forces (cut during Bush years)
* Allocated $5 billion for early learning programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, child care, and programs for children with special needs
* Signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act to protect Americans from unfair and deceptive credit card practices
* Enacted the Making Homes Affordable Program
* Boosted credit flow to small businesses
* Increased focus on funding for high speed rail
* Funded the Community Oriented Police program (COPS)
* Appointed first Hispanic justice to the Supreme Court and most qualified Supreme Court candidate in decades
On foreign affairs (see link for more complete list):
* Secured $5 billion in aid commitments “to bolster [Pakistan's] economy and help it fight terror and Islamic radicalism”
* Foreign affairs experts insist that Obama’s engagement with the Muslim world has been at once remarkable and under-appreciated…”He has been able to dramatically change America’s image in that region”
* Led global response to the economic crisis through the G20, obtaining commitments of $1.1 trillion to safeguard the world’s most vulnerable economies