Hello Everyone,

For the last several months, I have watched as Republicans and pundits alike talk incessantly about how President Obama is so “unpopular.” Almost from day one, the Republicans have worked to make it so. Driving the President’s “approval ratings” to a level (currently 43% per Gallop) that approaches President Reagan’s ratings nadir (35%) is perhaps their singular accomplishment over the last five years. It’s hard to point to much else.

“Popularity” is an ephemeral notion. It’s not based on logic or subject to analysis. Note that since the President took office, the economy has recovered significantly, the unemployment rate is down from over 10% in 2009 to 7.6%, stock indices keep setting record highs, and both inherited wars have ended or are ending.  Were it not for the unrelenting assault by the opposition on virtually everything the President has done or tried to do, these ratings would undoubtedly be much higher, even given the faulty Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act website launch. In fact, enrollment has exceeded the Administration’s original goal of 7 million.

So, while puzzling about this popularity phenomenon — the elusive realm of impression and opinion — I return to what I told a Christian Science Monitor reporter in an interview on the floor of the Democratic convention in 2008: I back Mr. Obama because of his “intellect, temperament and worldview.” I still enthusiastically do. That conviction was reaffirmed once more when I listened to and then read the President’s speech about Russia, Ukraine, and world order in Brussels last week. [By the way, I think the world should start referring to the “BRIC” countries as “BIC” countries, as Russia changes national borders with the stroke of a (cheap) pen, ceding its right to be considered an emerging economic power.]

The entire transcript of the Brussels speech is attached. It’s well worth your time to read it. If you’d prefer to watch and listen, here is the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVZWLqkBtf0

Here are some excerpts:

 …we meet here at a moment of testing for Europe and the United States and for the international order that we have worked for generations to build. Throughout human history, societies have grappled with fundamental questions of how to organize themselves, the proper relationship between the individual and the state, the best means to resolve the inevitable conflicts between states.

 And it was here in Europe, through centuries of struggle, through war and enlightenment, repression and revolution, that a particular set of ideals began to emerge, the belief that through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose, the belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding…

 And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men, and women, are created equal.

 But those ideals have also been tested, here in Europe and around the world. Those ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power. This alternative vision argues that ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign. Often this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others and that individual identity must be defined by us versus them, or that national greatness must flow not by what people stand for, but what they are against.

 In so many ways, the history of Europe in the 20th century represented the ongoing clash of these two sets of ideas, both within nations and among nations. The advance of industry and technology outpaced our ability to resolve our differences peacefully. And even — even among the most civilized of societies on the surface, we saw a descent into barbarism…

 I believe that over the long haul as nations that are free, as free people, the future is ours. I believe this not because I’m naive. And I believe this not because of the strength of our arms or the size of our economies. I believe this because these ideals that we affirm are true. These ideals are universal…

I say this as the president of a country that looked to Europe for the values that are written into our founding documents and which spilled blood to ensure that those values could endure on these shores. I also say this as the son of a Kenyan whose grandfather was a cook for the British, and as a person who once lived in Indonesia as it emerged from colonialism.

President Obama is highly popular with me.  Intellect, temperament, and worldview.

Please, as always, pass it on.

And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com

Chuck

 

Attachment – Brussels Speech – 3-26-14 – Washington Post transcript

 

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