Southern Brooklyn

Op-Ed: America Needs Barack Obama


BETWEEN THE LINESFor habitual readers of this column, it should come as no revelation as to who my preference is in Tuesday’s presidential election.

Over the last three or four months, there’s nothing former Governor Mitt Romney or Rep. Paul Ryan did to convince me to change my mind. (I’d still rather be blue than red.) As a matter of fact, most of what they or their obstructionist Republican colleagues uttered only solidified my incentive for President Barack Obama to serve another four years.

Barack Obama is the only choice, if we hope to move forward and not revert to stale Republican policies that generated the chaos — overseas and nationwide — that we’re in today.

Forget about who was better in the debates. Look at the records and the strategies of each candidate and it’s obvious that we need this president to serve four more years to continue to reverse the economic turmoil and overseas quagmires left behind after eight years of George W. Bush.

I can hear the groaning and chortling that, after four years, Obama has had plenty of time to straighten things out. Admittedly, he has only scratched the surface, but things are better. After all, when you’re left a mess as consuming as the one Bush did, it demands a long-drawn-out effort to sweep it away — not under a rug.

The president came into office confronted by two wars that were sacrificing precious manpower and draining an excess of revenues. Barack Obama didn’t pursue the mastermind of the 2001 terrorist attacks on Day One, but he eventually got Osama bin Laden, fulfilling the guarantee that Bush never attempted in the seven years that he had the opportunity. That photo-op image, etched in our minds, when President Bush boasted that the mission was accomplished was nothing but a sham triumph. To make matters worse, long after that premature declaration, thousands of soldiers fought, died or were wounded — physically and mentally.

While Obama has been criticized for his policy towards Israel, he is committed to defending our strongest ally in a perpetually turbulent region. However, he should not impulsively make a strategic commitment until defending the Jewish nation is absolutely indispensable. Our recent past is proof that for the U.S. to recklessly become engaged in another Mideast conflict will be very costly, in terms of manpower and money.

Despite the debate over Obama’s stand on Israel, on Friday, the [left-wing] Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, endorsed the president. This is the closing sentence of its endorsement: “…if any (voters) are vacillating over whether Obama has been a good president for Israel, the answer is yes.”

Here at home, one of the major accomplishments of the Obama Administration is the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. But, in its infancy it has already provided health care for millions who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

The president reversed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” to allow homosexuals and lesbians to openly serve their nation.

Despite the snail’s pace, the president has been moderately successful in stabilizing the nation’s ailing economy. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the nation’s growth over the last year was estimated at 2.3 percent. Not great, but improved and persistent. Anyone who was naïve enough to imagine things would drastically turn around by now should take off their rose-colored glasses and realize how severe the problems are that Obama has had to correct.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, pledges tax cuts and federal spending reductions, which, even someone without an MBA knows would impair the deficit. He refuses to offer details for his “5 Point Plan,” though we can presume it will, in the minimum, bolster the military budget; cut education, health-care and social programs, plus decimate Social Security. And, it is all too obvious that Romney tax cuts would more than likely benefit the wealthiest — not the Americans who need it the most.

Besides, with partisanship still a major roadblock for achieving the goals needed to strengthen the economy and other matters, Republicans are likely to make a second Obama term just as challenging.

While most Americans oppose companies shipping domestic jobs overseas, the GOP refused to support rational legislation to penalize businesses that do so. Though some modifications were implemented, Republicans thwarted harsher Wall Street reforms. Attempts at immigration and environmental reforms were blocked by Congressional Republicans.

Those are just a few positive of the changes sought by the president, but were rejected by his opponents, who, nevertheless, doggedly blame him for the lack of improvement.

Let the conservative opposition, which vocally expressed its longing for Obama to fail from the day he took office, promote the Republican ticket, but we can ill afford a Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan administration. It would retreat to policies that favor big business, the wealthy and the military-industrial complex. We’ve had enough of that!

Few politicians reveal emphatic strategies during a campaign, so they offer innuendos and vague approaches that generally imply change is forthcoming. As a result, the electorate and the media take sides based on records and potential. Though Barack Obama’s record is flawed, it has reversed some of the negatives and holds promise for progress and better days ahead.

As this lingering campaign has dragged on, there have been subtle improvements — enough to give Obama four more years. On the other hand, Romney, as most politicians have a tendency to, promises to turn things around, but it would be too risky to take a chance on such an imprecise strategy.

While the president deferred or neglected a few important issues, especially gun control and the closing of Guantanamo Bay, he’s certainly deserving of another term over his yo-yo’ing challenger.

Mitt Romney’s has constantly and consistently changed positions. That sort of wavering allows him to utter whatever is expedient at the moment. He seems to just say things that he thinks his audience wants to hear based on convenience.

As the Republican governor of Massachusetts, Romney was the ultimate moderate in a very blue state, but once he entered presidential politics, he shifted to the right. At times during the 2012 campaign, that shift was a hard right, to satisfy neo-conservatives, particularly Tea Party extremists. If he chose to stand by his true belief system, the gap in the polls would perhaps have shifted in his favor.

For those of us who experienced the wrath of Superstorm Sandy, it would be prudent to recall Romney’s stance and sudden change of heart in the wake of the enormous disaster.

In a GOP primary debate last June, while talking about disaster relief, Mitt Romney said, “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government (i.e. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

However, last Wednesday, after Hurricane Sandy devastated several states along the East Coast, the Romney campaign flip flopped when it released a statement : “I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission…” (Emphasis mine)

Suddenly, when the moment was at hand, he conveniently reversed his position without a mention of the private sector. And we all know that for a private sector business, profit is the main motive, while those most in need usually get slight or no compassion and consideration.

Some voters may not be too enthusiastic, even disappointed, feeling President Obama has not lived up to some of the expectations he promised four years ago. For them, it may come down to the lesser of two evils on Election Day, much like it often does in local, state and federal elections.

The president deserves another four years to continue righting the course for the ship of state. Mitt Romney’s case lacks compassion and follows the Republican Party’s conventional platform, which are neither in the best interests of the country nor the majority of voters.

It would not be practical to abandon Barack Obama, who not only understands the urgency of what America needs, but presents more encouraging evidence and compassion than his opponent that he cares.

At this critical juncture in our history, Barack Obama is not only the president America deserves, but the president America needs.

Neil S. Friedman is a veteran reporter and photographer, and spent 15 years as an editor for a Brooklyn weekly newspaper. He also did public relations work for Showtime, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. Friedman contributes a weekly column called “Between the Lines” on life, culture and politics in Sheepshead Bay.

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Comment policy


  1. A Jew voting for Obama, priceless idiots in the world. What has he done except ruin the country, why are people so ignorant and stupid. It’s true what they say apparently Americans are dumb.

  2. We’re not all ignorant and stupid, but you seem to be because we just disagree. Looks like you’ve got a touch of Romnesia and listening too much to Lyin’ Ryan. Nevertheless, thank you for taking the time to read my column.

  3. So answer me why every Romney ad talks about Obama’s failures, with no substance how he woud do better. Basically his ads say Obama was a failure so vote for me.

  4. Looks like you skipped the facts spotlighted throughout the piece. Besides, it’s called an OPINION column for the very reason you stated. Thanks for reading.

  5. Not so sad for Romney’s horse on Twitter:

    Mitt’s campaign is about 100% of America minus 47% of America and all women, minorities, students, seniors, the lovers, the dreamers and me.— Rafalca Romney (@RafalcaRomney) November 3, 2012

  6. No matter how I disagree with the oped, calling a whole class of people stupid because they see things differently than you, isn’t in itself the brightest statement in the world. Perhaps there would be the compromises necessary from Congress if each side at least respected each others’ viewpoint. It used to be this way. Now there’s social/political gridlock because everone thinks everyone else is an “idiot” Closemindedness and pigheadedness are NOT assets.

    I’m Bruce b and I endorse this message.

    I hope Romney wins, I think he’s best for the future, but I won’t be yelling in the streets, or spewing forth here if Preside t Obama is reelected

  7. Probably because Obama is a failure? Also Romney stated many times what he wants to do for the country, ignorant morons like you don’t hear it though. You’re a bunch of brainwashed liberal left wing nutjobs. Go get your welfare paycheck and stfu.

  8. You had me and then you lost me. You cannot be insulting people like that in the comments, because then that automatically makes you into the derogatory insult that you accuse others of being. Try to behave like a civilized human being in the comments, or just don’t comment at all.

  9. Trump has a better chance than Johnson. You have a way with words. You know, most opponents call Obama a socialist. Romney’s the fascist. LOL

  10. Duh, GOP federal legislators pushed through bills to slash embassy budgets and staff, basically saying there were too many and that put all at greater risk. And Obama gets blamed. Brilliant!

  11. Syrian rebels or American born Syrians? Either way, Obama has like 5 wars under his belt right now as opposed to bushes 1 😛 either way. this two party system has to go. it is making us all retarded slaves

  12. Insulting idiots who are destroying this country, morons who don’t know what is going on and just vote democrat. Yes insulting those poor excuses for human beings is a bad thing.

  13. Ok, Enough bullshit! All of you are as good as your country- and if you don’t like something- please get the fuck out! Whatever you write in this forum won’t matter to anyone, you are just a bunch of losers who always looking to blame someone else but yourself!
    If your life isn’t so good- it’s not Obamas fault- it’s your own lazy ass approach to life that made you so miserable.
    We all know that Obama is going to win this election- and what all of you morons are going to to about it? Nah, really… Go voice your opinion, go protest- but guess what.. You won’t change shit.. Because you are a bunch uneducated morons… I bet you also believe in UfO and Illuminati- morons morons morons… People like you should be sterilized at birth!

  14. you are aware that the red states in the bible belt and south of the great lakes states are some of the poorest in the nation, right???
    and that most beneficiares of welfare are children and the elderly, but I know you would prefer they die of starvation and shitty healthcare so that people who make millions can have $1000 breakfasts, clothes that they’ll only wear once, and 3 vacation homes, right???

  15. i’m sure the 360+ republican filibusters in the last 4 years had nothing to do with his failure

  16. Can you first tell me, what experiences this “community organizer” had prior to be elected? None!!! After he got elected I finally believe that anyone from the street can become a president. So, even after 4 years of Obama learning on the job (instead of being prepared before), I still believe that Romney has much more and better experience than community organizer and this experience we need to get more jobs in America. BTW, I am not even talk about Israel, which Obama as all muslims hates in the heart.

  17. and yet obama who “hates israel” has bended over backwards for AIPAC by vetoing a UN resolution on stopping jewish only apartheid settlements in the west bank and almost added an additonal billion in “aid” to the Israeli military. and yet he’s supposedly “hates Israel”. I’m sure romney is just in love with israel and no really stuffed with money given to him by a few rich jews to spew whatever propaganda they direct him to spew.

  18. Presidential election trivia: Barack Obama is only the fourth Democrat since the Civil War to be reelected (Wilson, FDR and Clinton are the other three).


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