President Barack Obama has reached a point where his achievements are ignored, and where he is blamed for everything that goes wrong, from ISIS to Ebola, maybe to the New York Jets. On Tuesday, Republicans looked to take control of the Senate to fight Obama. Agnes Nichols, a polling place worker in New York, is right about Obama. ‘It’s like my sons say,’ she said. ‘The people who hate this president finally dogged him out.’
They kept coming in the late morning, around the corner from W. 69th St., into the small polling place, past the table just inside the door where Mayra Moya, the Spanish interpreter, sat and Agnes Nichols, whose badge said “coordinator,” sat next to her.
Moya would ask for building numbers and Nichols, who has been at this on Election Days in the city for a long time, would smile and tell them that she had a treat for them after they voted, meaning a sticker that said they had.
I asked Agnes Nichols, who came to Harlem from Georgia when she was 14, what voters were talking about on this day when the Republican Party was supposed to send a loud message about what the country really wants and where it is going.
“You want to know the truth?” she said. “Most of them are talking about the scanners. They liked it better in the old days when you had to pull the lever on those one-armed bandits. It was like the effort said they’d done something.”
Then we were talking about Barack Obama and how on this day and night that would end with Republicans controlling the U.S. Senate to go along with their control of the House of Representatives, that they would finally have scored as big off Obama as they’d dreamed about doing since he beat John McCain. And would be asked, at last, to do something more than treat this President like the devil, at least until we do this again in two years.
“They had one plan from the start, far as I could tell,” Agnes Nichols, an African-American woman who grew up on 144th St., said. “Get rid of this President. I guess what they’re talking about happening tonight would be a way of accomplishing that.”
So this is how the presidency of Barack Obama will end, with a Republican Senate and House, two years for us to see what kind of plan his opponents really do have. Or whether their only plan all along was for Obama to fail, and as miserably as possible.
Somehow, all these years after Obama inherited a waste dump of an economy from George W. Bush and a war profiteer like Dick Cheney; after Obama inherited wars in the Middle East that Bush and Cheney started to show the world how tough the United States still was, and for Bush to show his daddy how tough he was; after all that, we were supposed to believe on that in November 2014 that only the party of Bush and Cheney could save the country.
On W. 69th, Agnes Nichols smiled as a young mother with two small children came through the door to vote.
“It’s like my sons say,” she said. “The people who hate this President finally dogged him out.”
She is right about that, whether you like this President or not, and however history judges him. It has reached the point where any of Obama’s successes, on the economy or jobs, are ignored now, where he is blamed for everything that now goes wrong, from ISIS to Ebola and maybe even the New York Jets. Suddenly you hear that he is even worse as a President than Bush was. The notion is as dumb as the war in Iraq.
Of course Obama hasn’t been a great President, hasn’t even come close to being what we thought he could be. Sometimes he acts as if he was more in love with the idea of being President than in actually doing the job. He came to the White House as a political novice, one who had never run anything other than a campaign in his life the way the current mayor of New York never ran anything other than a campaign. Then Obama showed no feel for politics, for the kind of backroom head-banging and arm-twisting that was the specialty of such Presidents as Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton even when they were faced with their own obstructionist Congresses.
From the day he was sworn in, the opposition party made no secret of its mission with Obama: Making him a one-term President at all costs, and no matter what it cost. When the Republicans failed at that, some of them losing their minds the way squirrelly Karl Rove did on Election Night of 2012, it made them just double down. So the party and its bullhorn media became even more obsessed about Obama than ever.
Finally came this midterm election, every Republican running for the Senate or the House or a governor’s mansion in America seeming to run against Obama, and so many Democrats running away from him.
Before they kicked Obama out of the White House, they wanted to dog him out as big as ever on Tuesday night. The party that gave us hacks like Bush and Cheney, gave us the America that Obama inherited from them, now came riding over the hill saying it had to save America from him. What a country.