President Obama’s Week of Amazing Grace

Prior to last week I can’t recall the last really good week for the president.  Which is partially what makes last week so amazing.   The events weren’t so amazing individually, but in their improbable abundance.

From Obama’s point of view, probably most important was the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare which finally makes it pretty much a done deal.  What made this surprising is that Chief Justice Roberts, given his conservative inclinations, made it a 6-3 vote.. He said it boiled down to a matter of common sense. Many conservatives saw it as apostasy.

Of course improvements in the health care law should be made, but hopefully congress can focus upon them rather than on trashing it all together.   One of those huge time wasters that reduces the likelihood of congress actually doing something useful for us all, like some day actually dealing with our grumbling infrastructure.

While I am a center-left kind of guy, I am most concerned with our national government actually providing some solutions to our problems, albeit always flawed, rather than being mired in the dysfunction that has typified recent years…..i. e. the “Obama years”.   Of course, I blame Republican anti-Obama obstructionism, while my more conservative friends blame Obama’s overreach and arrogance, but I don’t care to rehash that one ad infinitum.   “Let’s get on with it” is my motto.

This past week we got on with several “its.”

The Supreme Court provided another gift to Obama in the 5-4 decision on gay marriage, a weak majority, but still good enough since many states have already legalized it.  Also, do we really want a situation where some are married in some states but not in others?  Don’t we have enough bureaucratic head aches already?

Sure, Obama was not in favor of gay marriage awhile back but so what, many liberals weren’t, including me.  People can evolve. (Lincoln was willing to maintain slavery in exchange for retaining a national union. Southerners just didn’t believe him. And he evolved along with changing circumstances).

Awhile back I thought the notion of civil unions was a fair compromise between rights and tradition, but no longer think so.  It’s a little like “separate but equal” was in education years ago:   Civil unions could never be the full deal, always a little less in one way or another, which would have been reflected in a degree of disrespect for the families involved.   America should not be about making people less.

Those who decry the change haven’t thought much about this bumper sticker: “We’re all from dysfunctional families. Get over it.”   In other words, traditional marriages have seldom been what they are cracked up to be.

So, I’m glad the Supreme Court moved us along on that path, too, though I am not gleeful as many liberals must be.   I have other governmental priorities, so my thinking is let’s just stop making it such a big issue.   My thinking being somewhat expressed by comedian/activist Kinky Friedman. “I have nothing against gay marriage. Why shouldn’t they be miserable like the rest of us.”

So, let’s get used to gay marriage (including, yes, guys kissing guys, which the media have rarely shown, and never a long lasting smooch that I recall) and move along (frankly I’m not quite there about Bruce…ah, I mean Catlin Jenner, yet, but I’m working on it).

Probably a bigger victory for Obama than gay marriage was the fast tracking of the Trans-Pacific trade agreement.   This one is interesting because while it is a victory for Obama, many liberals think of it as a defeat and I’ve heard that Nancy Pelosi became infuriated at the way the president manipulated the passage, momentarily bosom buddies with many of those hated Republicans.

Perhaps the deal is bad for American labor while good for the 1%. I have no idea, but then few people do since the pact has been essentially under lock and key, with few allowed to view it and not even take notes.   But as I see it all this fast tracking simply means that when the pact is finally hashed out by negotiators it will be brought to congress for an up or down vote, with no opening for amendments or the usual quagmire stalling tactics.   By the time it gets to that point, I think many liberal concerns will be addressed and if not, well, they rate a good shot at stopping it.

My guess is it’s step forward in dealing with a big American issue, normalizing trade with the Pacific Rim in many ways that favor America (and some that don’t, no doubt). I trust the president’s judgment on the matter.

Finally, there is the moment last Friday when the president was in that arena in Charleston, memorializing that state senator and the other eight victims of another racial hate crime, and Obama’s breaking into the hymn Amazing Grace near the end of the ceremony, leading that large audience in song to cap off a moving speech, one of his best.

This amazing feeling of grace stirred up by the faith shaking unfairness of those nine parishioners being slaughtered at a Bible study no less and then, most striking of all, their relatives forgiving the perpetrator for his awful trespasses, all so pure and moving that it prodded steps throughout the south to demote the status of the confederate flag, long held by many southerners as a symbol of rebel pride, but now more clearly seen as a divisive symbol of black suppression, an accoutrement of race hatred.

So, all in all a great week for the president.  And a pretty darn good one for many of the rest of us.

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