He's done it again.

 
The nice man who happens to be the US President has called for an end to homophobia in Africa.
 
May he have more success than his call for equality and democracy in Cairo.
 
The best he, Tom Friedman and others could do about that earlier aspiration was to claim that he helped along Arab Spring.
 
We all know what happened next, is still riling much of the Middle East, and has even led the President to send the people with guns and planes despite his efforts to keep them home.
 
Obama's been an odd duck since the beginning.
 
Among the reasons cited for supporting him was that he was the least African among the African Americans in politics. They meant that he wasn't a Jesse Jackson, likely to upset decent Americans by pushing too hard for the sake of the underclass.
 
He has claimed that he is the most Jewish of Presidents.
 
There's a bit of truth to that, even though for many Jews he is the wrong kind of Jew, tainted as he is by the support of JStreet.
 
Africa being what it is, Obama's visit to his father's homeland was not without problems. He talked not only against homophobia, but also against corruption. His visit had been delayed on account of the Kenyan President facing charges of crimes against humanity in the International Court of Justice due to his role in violence some years ago. The case was dropped for lack of evidence, but the court also cited President Uhuru Kenyatta (the son of) and those around him for bribing and intimidating witnesses. 
 
Not only were Obama's hosts anything but clean on issues of corruption. They also spoke against his comments about homosexuals.
 
In a response that the Egyptians could have used in 2009 with some adjustments against Obama's call for equality and democracy, President Kenyatta--said to be a known homophob--responded
 
“There are some things that we must admit we don’t share. It’s very difficult for us to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept. . . . This is why I say for Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,”

Those Americans who applauded the Cairo speech might also applaud what Obama said in Nairobi. We can hope that the parallel to chaos now apparent in much of the Middle East will not be a machete-waving onslaught against homosexuals across Africa.

Obama also chose his visit as an opportunity to joke about "birthers.".
 
“Some of my critics back home might be suggesting I'm here to look for my birth certificate. . . . That is not the case.”


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An Arizona sheriff told CNN that he remains convinced that Obama's Hawaii birth certificate is fraudulent. 

“I’m probably the only law enforcement official that has looked into it . . . Nobody looks into it. They shy away from it.”


A bright spot for American Democrats is Donald Trump's statement that he is not entirely convinced that Obama was born in the United States.


With a man like that leading in some polls among the herd of Republicans running for the nomination, the person selected by the Democrats has a better chance at overcoming whatever fatigue Americans feels after eight years of Obama.


It's way too early to write an assessment of Obama's presidency. There is still almost a year and one half till the next inaugural, which is plenty of time to see what happens in Congress to his agreement with Iran, and then at least a full year for indications of Iran's cheating.


On the good side is the first ever success to enact something like universal health care. The political circus could not produce anything like what is available in other western democracies. However, Obama deserves credit for his efforts, and for the accomplishments however limited.


Obama's need to go against a system where the major health insurers are expected to be profit making was bound to be  problematic.


There is no end of the antediluvians who write to me about Obama's violation of true Americanism with this enactment, and my own violation of the same principles by writing something positive about an imperfect program.


Against this, my response is that innovative programs are likely to be imperfect..  


One can idealize the individualism of American culture and claim that it's what makes America great, but that ain't true. Western Europeans live at least as well as Americans (and by some indicators a lot better), and their regimes are more communitarian than individualistic.


Also to Obama's credit is the opening to Cuba. This was long overdue given the US capacity to swallow what were arguably more weighty frogs associated with China and Vietnam.


It appears to be anything associated with Islam where the President is weakest. The list of criticisms/accusations/ridicule includes spectacular flubs associated with the Cairo speech, the abandonment of Mubarak, the bizarre performance while talking about Syria's chemical weapons and that country's continued production and use of chemical weapons, the obsession with Palestine against the chronic rejections of opportunity by Palestinian leaders, and the hesitance to label as anything associated with Islam several terror attacks by Muslims in his own country.


By his own admission, repeated after rampages by unhinged individuals with easy access to firearms, Obama doesn't seem to have a chance against what makes the US the most violent by far of western democracies.


Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is his election and re-election. Ferguson and Charleston provide ample evidence that racism continues to thrive and reproduce in the United States, but a Black working behind the Oval Office desk remains as a commendable sign of American change.


It's not entirely clear that the US has gone beyond don't ask don't tell with respect to homosexuals. However, the Supreme Court decision in favor of single sex marriage across the country is another plus on the record of the Obama era if not a result of Obama himself.


Aspiring to anything like that for Africa, however, reminds us that no matter how decent an individual his supporters may think of Barack Obama, it is difficult to ascribe to him a realization of what life is like outside of the better circles of the United States.





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