On Saturday, Illinois celebrated its first annual “Barack Obama Day,” a holiday on the 44th president’s birthday in his home state. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law after Obama’s birthday last year, making Saturday the first official celebration.
While it is good for Illinoians — and Americans — to take pride in the fact that the U.S. had its first black president, 2018 is a premature time to celebrate the man who vacated the office less than two years ago. There are many reasons why Rauner arguably should have waited.
Here are 3.
1. It’s only been 19 months.
An official state holiday means a great deal. It may seem small, but the official government of Illinois has marked out a day to celebrate this living man.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Lydian king Croesus once asked the wise Athenian lawgiver Solon if he was the happiest man alive. Lydia may have been the country that created coinage, and Croesus is proverbially rich — “rich as Croesus” is still a meaningful phrase. Even so, Solon warned that no man should be counted happy until he is dead. Croesus was defeated by the Persian King Cyrus, and burned at the stake.
The Roman Catholic Church will not consider anyone for sainthood until they have been dead and two miracles can be attributed to them.
These examples are extreme, but true happiness and the value of a legacy take time to evaluate. President George W. Bush left office in 2009 with a very negative approval rating, but by 2017 it had increased significantly. Obama’s own approval rating was very high at the end of his presidency, but the people may change their ideas as time goes on.
Even if America does not always look fondly on Obama’s policy legacy, it will always be proud of the fact of a first black president. Nevertheless, it would be wise to wait — especially when Obama’s direct successor is in office. Otherwise, people will weaponize the “holiday” into an attack on the current president.
There will always be an Obama Day.
There will never be a Trump Day. #ObamaDay
— Tommy Campbell (@MrTommyCampbell) August 4, 2018
2. Liberals still try to deny Obama’s scandals.
Perhaps because President Donald Trump is so bombastic, liberals insistently deny Obama’s history of scandals. The former president himself has insisted over and over that he did not have a scandal. Obama’s personal life was above reproach, but the man presided over scandal after scandal.
First there was Solyndra (and Solyndra 2.0). Then tea-party groups were unfairly targeted by an activist Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In fact, a 2013 study found that the IRS targeting may have cost the tea party as much as 8.5 million votes in 2012, larger than the margin between Obama and Mitt Romney. American heroes died in Benghazi, Libya, and the Obama administration knowingly lied about it. Under Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients.
The Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to seize control of the Waters of the U.S., even while unleashing an environmental disaster of monumental proportions from the Gold King Mine in Colorado in 2015. There were no fewer than 17 scandals involving the Department of Veterans Affairs before President Trump signed the second major VA reform bill, as veterans died on secret wait lists across the country.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) kept an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. uranium market secret — just as Clinton was securing the Uranium One deal. The FBI rushed to arrest Russian spies because they got too close to Clinton, and texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page revealed that Clinton was not in real jeopardy for the email scandal — along with the blatant bias in the later investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Obama weaponized the mechanisms of government for his liberal agenda, time and time again. His Department of Justice (DOJ) laughably redefined “sex” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act (to fit the 2015 transgender movement), in order to attack North Carolina’s bathroom bill. His administration successfully argued that the hated individual mandate in Obamacare should be considered a tax — even though it would never have passed Congress if it were a tax.
Earlier this year, Peter Schweizer revealed how Obama’s regulations on for-profit colleges, finance, railroads, and airlines personally profited his best friend, campaign treasurer, and current head of the Obama Foundation Martin Nesbitt. Schweizer also revealed how Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry and his Vice President Joe Biden enriched their sons by going soft on China.
Americans must not allow Obama and his liberal allies to rewrite history. These scandals are real and serious, and should never be swept under the rug, no matter how offensive Trump’s tweets may seem. Any discussion about honoring Obama with a holiday should come with a vigorous debate over these scandals.
3. Obama is actively engaged in politics.
Unlike the set tradition of so many presidents (especially recent ones), Obama has jumped into the political game less than two years after his presidency ended. This past week, he endorsed dozens of Democratic candidates in races for the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and governorships across America.
Today I’m proud to endorse such a wide and impressive array of Democratic candidates – leaders as diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they’re running to represent: pic.twitter.com/gWzalQhFas
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 1, 2018
The former president is free to make these endorsements, of course, but they should count against any view of him as the elder statesman. Make no mistake, the former president is getting down and dirty to fight Trump.
Among others, Obama endorsed Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the Democratic candidate for governor in Colorado. Polis recently decided to snub voters in the rural Western Slope, has a long history of supporting single-payer health care (with its $33 trillion sticker price), supports raising paxes despite avoiding paying them for years, and voted against a pay raise for American troops who live in Colorado.
Again, Obama can make these endorsements if he wants to, but it should cost him the kinds of things associated with former presidents who have moved beyond day-to-day politics.
Before Americans name days after Barack Obama, they need to take time to assess the former president’s true legacy. They need to reckon with his many scandals. They also need to be satisfied that the former president is acting like a former president, not a political party leader.
Until these things happen, Americans should restrain themselves from erecting monuments and dedicating holidays to Barack Obama. As Solon warned King Croesus, it’s better to wait.