I Miss Barack Obama

This campaign is highlighting some of the president’s better traits.

Comments: 270

  1. We've been tryin' to tell ya, David!

  2. He now sees that Rubio is nothing but an empty suit robot. Too little too late.

  3. I missed the Barack Obama that I supported and voted for in 2008. He went on to do a few pretty good things as President Obama, but in many other ways he was merely Republican-lite, and at times an outright doppelganger of GWB. Candidate Obama would be disappointed; if I ever run into to him, I hope to be able to warn him.

  4. "...I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him." Well, Mr. Brooks, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Where to begin, indeed? As the tide of the Obama presidency rolls out, you now see the man for what he has always been: fair; good; decent. The coming years and decades will evaluate the quality of his presidency. It should be a painstaking, delightful task, one for serious and dispassionate historians who will chronicle one of the great American political stories in the history of our republic. You will "miss Barack Obama." A cynic would sneer, "that's rich, coming from you." Actually, it must have taken quite a bit of courage and humility on your part to summon up the reserves of the principles of right dealing and say this thing openly. You needn't have tossed out the scandal-scarred Reagan and Clinton years, either. You might easily have mentioned the House of Bush, or even dusted off that GOP golden oldie, Richard Nixon. But no matter. Does "one-term president" ring a bell? Do eight years of Congressional truculence and racist rejection to his presidency jangle the nerves? Have you forgotten "you lie!", at, of all things one of President Obama's very State of the Union addresses? Your appreciation of him comes rather late. I am reminded of the haunting scene in Lonesome Dove where Gus McRae and W. F. Call cradle the mortally wounded Josh Deets and lament, "I don't want to think about all the things we could have done for this good man."

  5. Beautiful and concise.

  6. Comments like these make me proud to be a Bostonian. Add to that a great line from Lonesome Dove, thanks for the reminder.

  7. The Republican response to Obama's election was racial from the beginning. Obama's campaign did not layout a progressives program or hint at anything so radical to elicit this response. The Republicans refusal to work with the President was nothing more than an insult to the people of this country and a breaking of their oath of office. In some ways they became the enemies of the United States in their refusal to work with Democrats and their President to deal with the problems the country faced. This lead directly to the sorry bunch of Republican candidates for President. Only our broken and inefficient process of selecting a President, along with the horrible Citizens United Supreme Courts directive, would allow obviously unqualified individuals to run for President. When only 1% of eligible voters participate in deciding who we can vote for in the general election, we get what money will buy. By the way, the people of this country, with our terrible voter turnout, are not without fault.

  8. "Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him."

    As I write my comment at 3:55 A.M., I wonder if I am still dreaming or I awoke in an alternate universe. Only now, just months before the end of his eight years as our president, Mr. Brooks wakes up to a reality that just dawns on him. Perhaps he has slept through seven years of his party's grotesque attacks on this president whom he now awakes and admires. How can he justify his unmistakeable sins of omission?

  9. President Carter was another great one with his honesty and ethics.

  10. To James Landi....another candidate, Bernie Sanders, has complete integrity, humanity, good manners, and elegance. Perhaps David Brooks and other New York Times columnists will give him a closer look, once he wins decisively in New Hampshire.
    A girl can dream.....

  11. James, don't you think Mr. Brooks has done an admirable thing here? No respect for a man who bares his soul and admits his underestimation of the president?

    My cup is half-full on this one. Well done, Mr. Brooks.

  12. David, you handsomely give credit where credit is due. As a Democrat who agrees with you (on Obama's civic virtues & human imperfections, both), I'm pleased to have the case laid out so lucidly.

    To be fair, George Bush also rose to presidential dignity on numerous occasions (as when he visited a mosque, & praised Islam after 9/11).

    Some politicians (in *both* parties) sound like dueling prophets, hurling denunciations at the iniquitous monsters of other side. In moments, perhaps, that can be fun (for the angry prophets, & those who enjoy prophet-watching); it is eating away, however, at the underpinnings of a working democracy. And that is downright alarming.

  13. W's "dignity" - Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    W's "bullhorn moment" is what we all needed that Friday after 9/11. We were terrorized and were in shock. We needed W.

    Then he took us into Iraq. Dignity was over.

  14. Obama's taken us into Syria - and soon into Libya (again). He has droned and bombed at will about the world; so-called "signature strikes." Many non-combatant deaths documented abroad. But dignity, always dignity.

  15. On 9/11, I walked home from my government job in shock. In my apartment, I waited for the rest of the day for President Bush to come on the airwaves to say something comforting to the nation. Nothing. Not even from his appropriate safe spot, did he reach out to us. So, no. Bush did not rise up to presidential dignity.

  16. Thank you for this. Such a just comment. Thank you for raising the tone.

  17. Demonization of Sanders is too easy. Appreciation for Obama, too late.

  18. Yes, the elegance, intelligence, and humanity of President Obama, in marked contrast to the nasty tone of the current campaign, is something we will all miss. And i appreciate David Brooks largeness of spirit in acknowledging this fact and putting aside partisanship in the process.

  19. Sorry. I remain suspicious of a person whose partisanship is displayed by the participation of a son in the army of a foreign nation.

  20. President Obama has maintained dignity, hope, restraint, calm, intellect and leadership in the face of an unraveling oppositional psychosis.

    I can certainly appreciate the frustration of disagreeing profoundly with the direction of an Administration after 16 years of Reagan and W Bush.

    But the opposition to Obama has diminished his adversaries to such an extent that they have lost their own dignity, optimism and capacity for leadership in an orgy of what Mr Brooks aptly describes as "pornography of pessimism".

    The refusal to grant a hearing to the Administration Budget Director before the Congressional Budget Committees regarding the proposed budget is only the latest example of childish oppositional behavior.

    I can picture Paul Ryan and the guys high-fiving each other in the Capitol locker room over that one. "We sure showed 'em, boys!"

  21. Your first sentence is brilliant!

  22. A pessimism accompanied by a complete psychotic break from reality in a national political party to the point Republicans can't even note the change from the last administration.

  23. Yo paraphrase John welch. Have his adversaries no sense of decency.

  24. I'm touched that you now miss Barack
    Whom Rubio loves to attack
    Cutting our POTUS no slack,
    Treating him with great disrespect.
    His Ocare is suddenly grand
    The House of course you understand
    Repeals it daily on command
    From Yahoos what do you expect?

    So Rubio now is your man?
    Collapses when stuff hits the Fan,
    Climate change deny also ran,
    And Bernie is now your pet hate,
    At Hillary you hold your nose
    But Rubio whom you propose
    Is naked and devoid of clothes
    Not even viewed as second rate.

  25. You are THE best Larry! The NYT should hire you.

  26. The best part of Rubio's robotic performance is when he says that Obama knows what he's doing.

    Exactly. And I want him to keep doing it.

    4 more years!

  27. Mr. Eisenberg, you ROCK!

  28. Very good column. Mr Brooks seems to agree with Garrison Keillor, who said he couldn't understand how the Republicans could be saying such bad things about the coolest president he's seen, and he's in his 70s.

  29. Barack Obama is a good, decent, self made man, and a genius*.
    As the republicans greatest hits show the bar has been set really low.
    The illegal bombing of Laos and Cambodia, Watergate, Iran Contra, arming Saddam Hussein, shooting down Iran Air 655, funding death squads in El Salvador, genocide in Guatemala.
    Invading Afghanistan and letting bin Laden mosey, unmolested, out of Tora Bora, to lead AQ another decade.
    The Charge of The Fools Brigade into Iraq, needlessly wasting the lives of 4,489 GI's, maiming for life 17,000 GI's, condemning hundreds of thousands to a lifetime of PTSD and TBI, slaughtering 800,000 Iraqi civilians, making torture USG policy, subcontracting torture to, among others, Bashar al Assad of Syria.

    * Any working class kid, from a single parent home who got yourself elected President, TWICE, feel free to dispute Obama's genius.

  30. Hope David gets this and realizes our own mischief making Republican administration policies....no more bloodshed David, please don't support candidates who are going to lead us into more wars. Please.

  31. Such a concise compilation! May I copy your comment and share it on Facebook?

  32. That would be Bill Clinton.

  33. It seems that every quadrennial cycle brings David such introspective navel lint-pluckings, while to me they bring merely an impatience to get past a surreal primary season. I don’t miss Barack Obama because I remember “You didn’t build that!” and countless other divisive presumptions of elitist superiority when I hear Trump say something offensive or Bernie say something strident but not very relevant.

    Of course the Obama tenure has been relatively scandal-free. It hasn’t actually done anything truly significant since the president stood to one side kibitzing while Nancy Pelosi condemned us all to ObamaCare by being insufficiently clever to get something better. Scandals are generated either by human cupidity or Bill Clintonesque weakness, or by the type of manipulation one saw in Dick Cheney or Oliver North. So, Barry hasn’t imposed crooks or unfaithful husbands on us; but, then, neither did Dubya – but Dubya and Reagan tried to do things (and succeeded) against strong opposition, and the means of getting their desires done brought on scandals. The near-beer Obama analogue is arrogation of executive authority he doesn’t actually possess, or so say the federal courts, again and again.

    I’ll give David that Mr. Obama projects more gravitas than The Donald – but, then so do Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, even Hillary; and Rand Paul projects nothing BUT gravitas. Most of us won’t have the luxury of missing Barack Obama until well past 20 Jan., 2017.

  34. What Obama said is that success is not due solely to the efforts of one person, the way that an invention is not the "creation" of one person. All successful business persons make use of what society has provided for them: transportation, means of communication, banking system, social order made possible by local and federal authorities, etc. The success of one person is the success of society at large. That's what he was saying, and for the writer to view it as divisive indicates an astounding misunderstanding either of words or culture.

  35. To place your Republican slate of candidates in the same league with President Obama is quite a stretch, but one I'd expect from you. This op ed of Mr. Brooks stands as a a statement of "truthiness"we don't usually have from the Republican side. It's pretty obvious that none of your group have the dignity, class, intelligence wit or humanity that the President has. Frankly, sir they're not fit to serve him a
    beer.!

  36. Frank, you are absolutely correct. I will never forget the anti-Obama "He said you didn't build that!" political ads that ran ad nauseum here in Ohio. I will especially remember the one in which an oh-so-aggrieved business owner told us all about how did, in fact, build that all by himself! And in the background of the shot was another person operating a machine. Really? You built that all by yourself? Then who's that guy in the background? Just someone who decided to wander in off the street and operate your machinery for the fun of it?

    It ticks me off as a taxpayer when the "I built this" crowd chooses to ignore the things that I pay for that help them. But it really ticks me off when they choose to ignore the very people whose labor is making money for them -- their own employees.

  37. Well, I certainly won't miss Barack Obama. Obama was nothing more than a stealth spoiler candidate whose goal was to derail any chance Hillary Clinton had of becoming the first female standard bearer of a National Political party. Obama's presidential bid was in protest to Hillary Clinton's vote to give George W Bush the go ahead to invade Iraq. Personally I don't think Obama expected to get the Democratic nomination much less win the presidency. I already have my Obama's last day T shirt which I'll wear next January.

  38. I bet your shirt will have been made in Vietnam.

  39. Wow! Was her Secretary of State performance in tune with Obama's stealth spoiler effort to derail her? How about his re-election? Check your shoes....I don't think we're in Kansas....

  40. I am going to miss Obama too, David, but I am sure that we will continue to see Barack and Michelle Obama in the public eye, promoting their causes and ideas. I don't think that the Obamas will retreat from the world scene like George W. Bush did. I think Hillary Clinton will make a good President if she is elected, but I will miss President Obama's thoughtful approach to the complex world we live in. He seemed to be always willing to listen to and genuinely consider opposing points-of-view, and do it with a disarming sense of humor and charm.

    None of the Republican candidates can measure up to his qualities. Rubio is a callow, empty suit; Cruz is a theocratic demagogue, and Trump is the modern incarnation of P. T. Barnum, always telling the gullible marks what they want to hear.

    I also agree with you about Bernie Sanders. I am sure that he is a good person, sincere in his convictions. However, he does not seem to be somebody who would be able to reach a consensus with what is likely to be a Republican Congress to enact policies to deal with the realities we face. Also, his crotchety old man demeanor bothers me. Hillary Clinton would make the best President of all of the candidates because of her experiences in the Senate and as Secretary of State; however, I worry about the potential influence of behind-the-scenes power brokers in her administration.

  41. You need to worry also about her No regard for The Rule Of law !!!

  42. Please elaborate. What do you mean about her alleged "No regard for the rule of law?"

  43. Hillary would earn the presidency just by putting Obama on the Surpreme Court. The right-wing would go up in smoke-of-fury. :)

  44. Interesting column. As a non-american, more well-versed in U.S. politics than most foreigners but still lacking a good understanding of the culture of your electorate, I have an outsiders view on Mr. Obama.

    Obama is widely respected abroad, at least in Europe. While his approach to foreign policy and decisions stemmed from that are part of this respect, I think it is really more due to the qualities described by Mr. Brooks.

    Regardless of the political affiliation of a nations leader, traits such as integrity, rationality and humanism are a boon when trying to enact foreign policy.

    The current crop of presidential hopefuls would do well to learn that.

  45. I suspect from what you have just written that you have a better "understanding of the culture" of our electorate than most Americans have of yours. As one who has visited yours and other Scandinavian countries, I thank you for your comment.

  46. Trust me, Mr. Waern, as a good Swede, you are also better versed in U.S. politics than most Americans. And if you lack a good understanding of our electorate's culture (as you say), please don't seek to find out more. You will be deeply disappointed, even disgusted by what you would learn. Our electorate knows not the difference be someone running for office, a cartoon character, a reality TV star or a real buffoon. They love bombast over substance, the latter deemed not worthy of their attention. They are easily hoodwinked by speciousness and vote consistently against their own interests. So they are too often left waving their young adult children off to war, transferring their wealth to the 0.1%, and drinking toxic water from their own faucets.

  47. Rickard Waern – you may be "more well-versed in U.S. politics than most foreigners," – also, sadly, than most of the US population.

  48. Mr. Brooks uses several interesting techniques to attack the best person running for President, Bernie Sanders.

    First, Brooks tries to set a positive tone by praising President Obama, as a way to mask his real intention: throwing mud at Sanders.

    Second, Brooks says that Sanders is blinded by his values. That is a cheap shot with no evidence. Just because Sanders cares about the poor and the middle class (his values) does not make him blind. In fact, Brooks is the blind one: he cannot see the damage wreaked on the nation by the super-rich.

    Third, Brooks states that Sanders "would take employer coverage away from tens of millions of satisfied customers". Quite the opposite: every American would have health insurance, including the 29 Million Americans who have none now. (I guess Brooks does not care about them, because they are poor, and he only cares about the rich.)

    Fourth, writing that Sander's having a goal of universal health insurance "is to live in intellectual fairyland" means that Brooks wants a President who does not think big.

    Finally, comparing Sanders to "Trump, Cruz and Ben Carson" is a very low blow. Sanders is all about helping the poor and the middle class, whereas Brooks' Republicans are all about protecting and enhancing the privileges of the super-rich.

  49. Bernie's supporters have awfully thin skins.

  50. Not really, just don't like it when a overrated hack like Brooks takes cheap shots without cause.

  51. No.Bernie supporters are just sick of lies and deception.

  52. Let’s skip the disingenuous ode to Obama. Of course he’s a decent man. But instead of mourning the upcoming loss of his grace and equanimity, we ought to be lamenting the loss of eight years of potential that Republicans squandered in their utter refusal to work with him. Conservatives like Mr. Brooks have undermined everything he’s stood for, and helped to create the polarized chaos out of which these embarrassing excuses for Republican candidates have emerged.

    Brooks dismisses them all, except that he find Rubio charming when he breaks out in a nervous sweat and robotically repeats talking points under the pressure of a Republican debate. Imagine how charming he’ll be when North Korea launches missiles.

    This column isn’t about charm, or to point out that the Republican candidates are jokes. It’s about undermining Bernie Sanders.

    Suddenly, Brooks is saying nice things about Obamacare. Can you imagine how frightened conservatives must be about a Sanders win? Think of the millions of satisfied customers! Think of the poor insurance industry! Think of the tax breaks the one-percent will lose!!! But pay no attention to the millions who can’t get coverage, or to the efficient single-payer systems and cheap drugs that Canada and most European countries enjoy.

    I’d rather think of the democratic socialism that created the American dream, and how Sanders will remind us of what that was like.

    Stock up on ointment, Mr. Brooks. I think you're going to feel the Bern.

  53. I felt the same as I read this. This seemed much more of an attempt to discredit Clinton, Sanders as well as Cruz and Trump to hopefully soften people up for a Rubio or Bush?

  54. gemli - Somewhere missing in Brooks's paean is the part about " and every step of the way, the GOP'ers acted exactly opposite Obama, cowed and driven by their far rightist hate coalition and ' think tankers '; to the point of refusing to be photographed with Obama or even go to the White House to watch a Super Bowl game - and then there was the State of the Union where a GOP'er shouted out ' You lie ' as Obama spoke ".

    Guess that part of Brooks's piece fell to the copy room floor.

    btw - Brooks's first clue about who the Obamas were should have been when he noticed the Obamas bringing their daughters' grandmother to the White House with them to make absolutely sure there was no question their daughters were top priority; pure Class.

  55. Brooks is admitting of Obama what you will never admit of Brooks, a basic decency. I think Brooks has demonstrated that decency and civility unrelentingly for years. Hatred and anger sully only the hater, Gemli. Your rage precisely mirrors that of the Republicans you excoriate as if their humanity were deeply in question.

  56. Wow....A David Brooks column I read without a smirk. Obama is headed for a high standing among American presidents. Twenty years from now Brook's sentiments will be shared by most, along with head scratching when we ponder the actions of the current republican political class...wondering how they could have blown it so badly. Wondering how they failed.....just as the lemmings....to see the cliff ahead.

  57. Vote for Hillary Clinton! You may not have a romance with Grand ma's but know she cares for you because she's seen it all and it's time for her to become the leader of the free world
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsxbCplcfHI

  58. I totally disagree. Hilary has a long history of lying and her disingenuousness makes her unfit to the presidency !!!!

  59. really? long history of lying? Have you heard the republicans over these
    past 8 years and beyond? They have lied, distorted, twisted facts , accused unfairly, and made a mockery of justice. Secretary Clinton, on the other hand, has served her country for years, worked for global justice, women's and children's rights and swallowing any pride she may have had after losing the 2008 election, stood side by side with Pres. Obama to keep us on an even keel. She deserves respect, not your distain, Bonnie.

  60. Bonnie, Ted Cruz lies more in one hour than HRC does in a year. But, hey, it's all the same, right?

  61. Thank you Mr. Brooks. Although the fact that you are just realizing this now is telling. It seems that while Obama has calmly steered the ship over the last seven years though virtual hurricanes other would be leaders have continually shouted jump while they put holes in all of the lifeboats. He is an example to all presidents of what poise and judgement is and that he serves all of the people.

  62. Nothing bothers me more than when people say, "I think so-and-so is terrible, and I'm [a member of his or her party or of a similar political affiliation]." Sometimes I feel like Diogenes. I did support Obama -- but I'm ready for someone else. It's more to do with me changing my mind than with him changing his. Though you seem fond of it, Obama's optimistic worldview worries me. The most basic distinction between someone like Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama is that Netanyahu is a pessimist, Obama an optimist.

    Obama is so much of an optimist, in fact, that he strikes me as something of an inevitablist. There's a lot of hoo-ha about him being a cold realist, but I doubt he's ever consciously thought it out. It's evident from his verbal abuse of History's "sides" that he espies something inborn in the progress, not just material but moral, of human affairs. The United States can stand back. They'll work it out.

    As much as you dislike Clinton, it's clear that she would make the best president of anyone running, if progressives would give her room to breathe. (Jeb's already been strangled.) I don't really understand why The Times endorsed her, to be honest, as the Vermonter seems more in line with their hyper-progressivism.

    The Republicans need 1) to change some of their magical policy positions, 2) less rigidity, and 3) more eloquent spokesmen. I can't stand how progressives are convinced that class-based legislation is requisite. I miss centrists.

  63. Can you believe how class-based tax policy has not "created jobs" or restored the economy? Can you believe how the class based lowest taxes on the wealthy have benefited the rich only? Can you believe how class based denialism has impaired our progress to renewable energy in favor of pollution, and fossil fuel wars.

  64. If YOU miss Obama, think about people like ME, who agree with him more often than not.

  65. It's hard to please all the people all of the time, and I wish President Obama had been more combative in the early days of his tenure – but he was trying to get the crazies onside. Despite the vitriol from the haters, he will be seen by history as the man who saved the USA and the world from disaster on many fronts. Congratulations to him for his thoughtfulness, moderation and best intentions for all – not just his followers. By comparison, the others running now on the GOP side are complete rabble.

  66. Thanks for this. Obama is a good, very able, civilised man. Though not much of a politician he will be judged a great President.

  67. A Republican finally realizes that President Obama is a good, decent man but there is a big, big caveat.
    He praises Obama but his article reeks of disingenuity about Senator Bernie Sanders and his ideas. No matter what David Brooks thinks, Trump and his ilk don't even deserve to be named along with him, let alone compared.
    This is political jugglery at its finest, too bad for the writer that it is also obvious

  68. Brooks has always been an intellectual contortionist. Why should this surprise you now?

  69. Cynicism and misdirection are stock in trade for propagandists. So is feigned piety. There is no reforming such a twisted intellect.

  70. History will be the judge, and I am confident that in the coming decades President Obama will be judged as one of the best Presidents ever. He did not accomplish all I hoped for when I voted for him in 2008, but he accomplished a tremendous amount. I never could have imagined the obstructionism he would face, making those accomplishments even more impressive. I am proud to have him as President and, like you David, I will miss him.

  71. Well said!

  72. Agree, agree, agree!
    I will go one step further: When Obama is recognized in the future as one of the best Presidents, there will be a lot of people struggling to remember, or to explain to their grandchildren, just why they opposed everything he did. "Well, it seemed like the right thing at the time" is going to sound mighty weak.

  73. I'm not at all impressed by your concession Mr brooks. The rest of the planet is way ahead of you and has been for some time. Most love or at the very least respect your president.

    In the 2012 Presidential election my country - had it had a say - would have delivered President Obama a massive landslide.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-voters-would-deliver-obama-lan....

    Term limits are silly.

  74. They're only silly within the context of getting Obama reelected. Imagine unlimited terms for Dubya, or, in the future, Trump or Cruz...

  75. No, term limits would work to stop the endless nonsense of entrenched special interests. No man is indispensable in a democracy: rule of law, not of a man.

  76. thank you. It's always nice to hear from the rest of the world when a certain class of voters insist that Mr. Obama is an embarrassment on the world stage. Of course those of us that travel know this is not true, but thank you again for your generous words.

  77. A few things that I would like to see President Obama do in his remaining time in office:

    1. Tell Americans it’s time for a change, and advise them to vote for Mr. Trump, thus insuring Mr. Trump’s defeat.

    2. Publicly admit that he always enjoyed spying on Israel.

    3. Admit to the world that he never liked Hillary Clinton.

    4. Take up deer hunting.

    5. Write an op-ed for the Times saying that while it is fine for Michelle to advocate for regular exercise, organic vegetable gardens and healthy school lunches, he himself doesn't believe in any of that “nonsense.”

    6. Tell the Editorial Board of the NY Times that the worst mistake he ever made was not bombing the Ayatollah back into the Dinosaur Age.

    7. Tell Entertainment News that, while he appreciates their support, he never really could understand the appeal of Beyonce, Jay-Z or Oprah.

    8. Make Sean Penn the director of the F.B.I.

    9. Donate all of Michelle’s evening gowns, the ones she gets free from fashion designers, to women living at homeless shelters.

    10. Decline all offers to write his memoirs with the explanation that he really doesn’t believe he has accomplished "all that much."

    11. Be overheard on the telephone telling Mr. Netanyahu that if he had a chance to do things over, he would have become a neocon sooner.

    12. Go partners with Donald Sterling and Sheldon Adelson and buy an NBA team.

  78. No call forthcoming from SNL.

  79. No one but the GOP candidates will bow to Adelson.

  80. What are homeless women going to do with evening gowns?

  81. "Bernie Sanders, by contrast, has been so blinded by his values that the reality of the situation does not seem to penetrate his mind."

    Whatever else one may think of it, Bernie's approach to gun control shows that he can and has dealt with the political realities of difficult politics.

    I agree with Brooks on the good qualities of Obama. I think Bernie is the only one in either party offering any hope of giving us more of that.

    Further, Bernie would do that without the emotional distance Obama sometimes shows -- not always shows, see that mosque speech, see his big race speech.

    Bernie would certainly do that without ever being in any way "disdainful, aloof, resentful and insular." He may display emotions with which you disagree, but you'll never call him bloodless and detached.

    There could in theory be a better candidate than Bernie. I think he's agree. But none is running this time.

  82. This column is really not a love letter to Obama but a fright mask for Bernie. Republicans cannot believe that he has captured the imagination and support of young and old, and aroused us from our dormant democracy, our complacency. Republicans rely on rich guys telling them what to do, on depressed or suppressed voter turnout, and on imagined threats to the emotions of the religious, of uneducated men, racists, and xenophobes. Republicans fear voter turnout, passionate advocacy of human needs, and democracy.
    Brooks tries so hard to marginalize Bernie by placing Obama on a pedestal. Obama is surprised to see such a cynical distraction.....NOT! Brooks and his friends are terrified that Bernie is genuine. They are "freaking out". The press ignored him, pundits marginalize him, his own DNC has undermined his chances, yet, he draws the largest crowds and get the most donors to chip in. He is more terrifying to the "establishment" than Trump and Cruz combined.

  83. It's not "his own DNC". And why wouldn't the DNC try to undermine him given Sanders previous comments about the Democratic Party?

    “You don’t change the system from within the Democratic Party.” ~ Bernie Sanders

    “My own feeling is that the Democratic Party is ideologically bankrupt.” ~ Bernie Sanders

    “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Why should we work within the Democratic Party if we don’t agree with anything the Democratic Party says?’” ~ Bernie Sanders

    As a Washington insider for the last quarter of a century, Sanders is well-aware that a third-party candidate cannot win a U.S. Presidential election.

    Sanders running on a Democratic Party ticket is an act of political expedience. He became a Democrat only after deciding to run for the U.S. Presidency.

    The Republicans cannot wait to use his quotes about the Democratic Party against him should he become the Democratic candidate.

  84. Thanks Mr Huban. You seem to be one of the few that has responded to the true intent of this column--to cut down Bernie Saunders. Let's fast forward 8 years, and to another column Mr Brooks has written saying what a clean administration he now realizes President Saunders has led.

  85. So the president you (broadly) disagree with shows himself to be superior to all the politicians you (broadly) agree with. Hmm. Maybe it's because he actually has a grasp on what really matters - what is right - and the people who espouse your own politics have NO grasp on what matters. Maybe the person who needs to re-evaluate his politics is you?

  86. No, you don't miss Obama, you miss having a GOP candidate who is sane. Period.

  87. Bravo!

  88. General Eisenhower is otherwise engaged.

  89. There is a wistfulness in Brooks' eulogy of Obama that comes from the realization that the party he believes should represent his views does not exist. It simply impossible for the current GOP to issue forth a candidate with the qualities exhibited by Obama. The constant drumbeat of lies and deceptions from GOP mouthpieces like Fox and talk radio have poisoned the minds of the GOP supporters and no GOP candidate can survive by not going along with a dishonest narrative. The ugly attacks on Planned Parenthood, illegal immigrants, denial of asylum to Muslim refugees, denigration of public employees, and on and on, are simply incompatible with a man that shares Obama's virtues. Ted Cruz is the embodiment of the anti-Obama. All others try to avoid his nastiness by serving much of the same vinegar as wine.

  90. Was it really necessary to call them a "Grand Old Party" four times? Surely it's not that hard to put scare quotes around the G, O and P.

  91. Most importantly, President Obama has been an effective and wise commander in chief. Yes, after the U.S. withdrawal Iraq returned to its tribal ways, to the benefit of Iran; Syria is a tragedy; the Zone of Instability is expanding. Our next president will probably govern during a period of even greater global instability.

    But our next president will also benefit from the work of a competent and honest administration. Flawless? No, but about as good as can be expected when the governing partner is our gerrymandered congress.

  92. Thank you, Mr. Brooks. A lot of people on the Right will be so relieved to see Mr. Obama go that they too see him more clearly.

    His greatest moment may be the day he leaves office. And now for the deluge of elegies from those who can say 'I can't be a racist, Obama was a good guy'.

  93. Thank you Mr Brooks. A great assessment of President Obama.

    While I have not read the comments of this column yet, I could imagine your loyal oppositions already up in arms with responses like "I told you so." Or they may be deeply suspicious of your accolades.

    The truth is that no policy can please all peoples but a fair administrator can do a better job making everyone feel included. But when people start playing the us-versus-them game, someone will get hurt. In this respect, Bernie's 1% is no better than Romney's 47%. Both exploit the negativity in people instead of bringing them to a higher level of humanity. Creating an uppity class is no better than creating an under-class.

    Mr Obama almost fell up it inadvertently by using the "fat cat" language early on. That doesn't mean there is no fat cat and certainly there are plenty of guilty people around. There are conscientious from all walks of life as there are mean people from the same all walks of life. Just because one is rich doesn't mean one is bad. Just because one is poor doesn't mean one is good. It is good to see Mr Obama has matured as his presidency progresses. And the contrast with the current field just makes it so much harder to ignore.

    So you are right that about Mr & Mrs Obama. Living in the muddy town without getting stained is an excellent quality. Wish the presidential hopefuls would follow this path.

    By the way, would you please talk to your colleague Ms Maureen Dowd about this column? Thank you

  94. "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different." Fitzgerald
    The rich are not like us at all. How do they differ? They do not experience need, real need. Their whole experience is one of want. The surround themselves with boundaries and borders in thoughts and possessions that shield them from any experience of real need. They feel entitled to their fortressed existence and cannot discern the hardship and suffering that their privileges inflict. If they have no bread....they should eat cake is a genuine glimpse of what it means to be rich: incapacity. We should all observe the conditions of the rich to be aberrant from the human condition, and as such a pathology making them unfit to govern or influence government. The rich have no place in a democracy as they are not "like us", do not share our needs, or our values. Sorry (emoticon).

  95. Dear Joe:

    Fitzgerald is a great writer but one may want to look for others for moral profundity. When people demonize, they are the ones getting hurt in the process. Why, if their object of scorn is really demon, the emotion does nothing to it; but what if they have made such categorization that they were wrong. Worse, negative emotion only hurts themselves.

    You don't have to believe me, great beings like the Pope and the Dalai Lama would tell you the same thing. Thou shall not demonize. Sure, the rich should share more. Both the Pope and the Dalai Lama said as much. And many do. Like the Gates and Warren Buffett. But they are not perfect. One could always find faults in them. But when a leader leads the charge with negativities, the followers may very well be marching to the tone of a Pied Piper. S/he may wear a cloak of a progressive, a conservative or a libertarian, but the lyric is the same.

    Perhaps that is why Mr Brooks - this comment is about Mr Brooks's column, after all - misses President Obama. He has stated upfront they may not be in a lot of programmatic agreements but that doesn't stop him from admiring Mr Obama's positivity

  96. He uses misdirection to attack Sanders. This is not me demonizing Brooks or the rich whom he serves. A Rabbi taught: "And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ..... 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed....."
    The one who is awake spoke of riches:
    "Because some were rich, and clung to riches,
    ...........
    And the fruit they reaped was the bitter one of suffering,
    He was moved to pity."
    "One road goes to profit, another to Nirvana."

  97. My first reaction in reading this was to think how lucky it is that The Times comment section is moderated. Put this anywhere else, and hundreds, if not thousands of comments, many of which would contain ever-escalating vitriol, would erupt.
    Mr. Obama is a decent man with a number of good qualities. His record as President has been mixed--he's done some good things, did poorly in other areas. History is going to need time to judge him, and I suspect a fair reading will reflect both his strengths and his weaknesses.
    We have had more than two decades of virtually uninterrupted political nastiness. Everything is partisan, everything is blood-sport. Every budget is DOA, every speech panned before it even given. every word and gesture roundly condemned. This is the culture my (millennial) children have grown up in. No wonder they and their friends look for unconventional politicians--they may not have the sophistication--but they can smell the decay and want something better.
    I'm surprised at Mr. Brooks' embrace of Marco Rubio. I would have thought he might have preferred Kasich, a man who's personality runs a little cooler, who engages on ideas, and who doesn't frame every answer to every question with dark references to an Obama agenda to fundamentally change and diminish America.
    Ask yourself, which candidates could you give a fair chance if they were in the White House? Who seems to deserve it. Look at them, and look at yourself.
    http://goo.gl/05BkqV

  98. Rip Van David Brooks Winkle!

  99. Much of what we hear on the campaign trail is just hot air: Marco Rubio ludicrously sticking to his talking point that Barack Obama is on a mission to fundamentally change America; Chris Christie wildly overstating his record as governor while simultaneously auditioning for Fred Thompson's old gig as a tv prosecutor; Ted Cruz being Ted Cruz. Likewise, there's Donald Trump, who appears to have inhaled his industrial-strength blow dryer.

    The heated rhetoric aside, the candidates' comportment should give us a pretty good sense of how they'd conduct themselves as president. Jeb Bush projects ineffectiveness, despite his attempt to brand himself as a "doer"; Chris Christie, bullying certainty; Donald Trump, a complete lack of interest in anything resembling policy detail and disdain for anyone who presumes to press him on it; Rubio, jittery nervousness.

    When Barack Obama was tested during the 2008 campaign, he showed us who he is and what kind of president he'd be. Instead of lashing out, he responded to the Rev. Wright affair by giving a thoughtful, heartfelt and eloquent address on race in America. He referred to someone he loved, his white grandmother, as a symbol of irrational white fear but said he couldn't disavow her. It's a speech that should enter the canon of American political rhetoric.

    Barack Obama is president and everyone else is campaigning for his job. But there's good reason to miss him. And we're going to miss him so much more a year from now.

  100. I AGREE with David Brooks. I miss Barack Obama too. He has held himself, his family and his team members who consistently observe moral standards as well. i part company with him about Hillary. Since she first went to the White House she has been a lightning rod for the GOP, which has proven that unending lightning strikes exist. You'd think that the fact that Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice both used personal computer servers it would put lay the current witch hunt to rest. That remains to be seen. Bernie is busy building his revolution to nowhere, while the GOP is competing to set new low standards of both personal morality and respectful deportment. Trump and Cruz are so shameless that if it were ever alive, there is now a dead elephant in the room. I disagree with Brooks about Obama's being overly confident and aloof. If he has a well-crafted plan of action, should he not exude confidence? If he is faced by a GOP Congress that is trying to get an all-time high score for the number of times they bring up the same bill, he's got bigger fish to fry. In my opinion, the GOP has chosen to waste much of its time in Congress. But Obama has not imitated them, even remotely. I hope he continues to the end of his administration to work energetically on outdoing his predecessor for the number of Exective Orders. Dubya took a wrecking ball to thing; so Obama has lots of fixing up and repair to do. He is admirable in his achievements in the face of great adversity.

  101. John Smith,
    It is so interesting to see you laud Brooks and Obama and then start smearing everyone else. Perhaps this dignity thing is too high a tax for most of us.

  102. Brooks has just admitted that Barack Obama has been a decent person and a good to excellent president, neither of which is recognized by the leading members of his own political party. Kudos, David. Maybe you should consider abandoning the crazies and join the normal people in the country. You know, the ones who think Obama has been fine from the start.

  103. 'Pornography of pessimism' is an absurd phrase to apply to both serious criticism of American society and shallow fear mongering. Mr. Brooks should remember that alliteration is not a substitute for argument. At least he resisted 'nabobs of negativsm.'

  104. Relax. Mr. Brooks is not a serious person. Though he plays one on NPR and in this column, he's really a dabbler in "comic sociology."
    https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/brooks-bobos.html

    So when a defender of the Republican faith says he'll miss President Obama, just laugh.

  105. Yes! Mr. Brooks deserves the Bill Safire Sarcastic Sagacity Award for that one. But I believe his assessment of all the candidates is correct. Surely you listened to Rubio recently; that is ALL he can say.

  106. Apart from his sterling personal qualities of integrity, commitment, and intelligence, the other remarkable fact is that Barack Obama's victory to the office of the US President did reaffirm the resilience of the American dream woven around the cultural diversity and equal opportunity.

  107. so ironic that a man who personifies everything republicns claim to believe in, hard work, personal resposibilty, ambition and strength, is dismissed by them as exhibit A for affirmative action.

  108. Olivia--when it comes to African-Americans, raising the goalposts beyond reason is the conservatives' typical racists SOP. It doesn't matter how talented/intelligent/good/whatever any black person is; their tiniest flaw will be held up as yet another reason why "those people" are inferior and should be denied humanity.

  109. Probably the finest editorial you or any have written. This man, who I believe is above criticism, has in the most gracious, respectful, honorable way, saved our country, brought us back from the brink. He has done this amidst the most fractious, shameful mess of behavior from republicans. He continues to turn heads with his dignity. his example of excellence. We've been so fortunate.

  110. In recent weeks, I wrote:" I am and will be always dazzled by Barack Obama, how he accentuated the debate and created platforms for a new national vision–and backlash. Presidents, their terms, aren’t discrete packets, isolated from all before or determined by pass/fail assessments; Presidents are a part of the organic development of America, markers and holders of of our national character and power." "The ugliness and monolithic tunnel vision of the barrage of Obama attacks–exaggerated, routinely based on lies–hurt. They wounded America’s prestige." "Blame and denial, obstructionism, micro-management, balance sheets, name calling and legal bluffs have been used to strike Barack Obama–but when it comes to his record, to little effect!"

    I add another sensible, unnoticed achievement: Obama's use of soft power on race has freed a few from Obama-derangement syndrome. They can see clearly the economy for workers--wages, insurance, safety nets, infra-structure, retirement accounts are not disrupted by blacks and minorities in the halls of power (Loretta Lynch is an incredible pick!); the grand govt giveaway never happened! (Stimulus? Went to the 50 states. TARP? Nearly in equal size, to the big banks!)

    Obama has also exposed the hidden bias of many liberals, "disappointed" that he did not force a fight that would have cleaved America into permanent camps of fear. He allowed America to pull the covers off its biases. He is leaving us inspired for the future fight.

  111. This one came out of left field, oops I mean right field. But I digress. Of course Brooks has to slam Bernie Sanders. He represents the ultimate threat to a status quo courtesan like D. Brooks. I will exit on this one. Bernie Sanders spoke at a church here in DC sometime last spring. So I jumped the metro and went. There were maybe 100 of us in the crowd. Here is how he left us(I paraphrase): "when deciding whether to run or not we have to be careful that we run a good campaign. Because if we run a bad race then the opponents can say 'look, nobody cared about that stuff anyway'." Well, I guess the they, which is we cared. First they ignored us, then scoffed at us, and now they attack us. We won.

  112. We know how great he will be when we elected him in 2008. The president had every right (I am not sure if you are correct) to be disdainful, after all, GOP's number one priority was to make him fail, fail at every step he took to better the life of his countryman. This was past due. This column brought me to tears!

  113. Thanks David, a great quote: the "pornography of pessimism". This has become a global epidemic if not worse. A catastrophe perhaps. Obama has inspired and will be sadly missed. The grand experiment may have created more division than harmony. That will only change with hindsight. Sadly, it seems that he could almost please all of the people some of the time, and perhaps please some of the people all of the time, but it is never, and never will be, possible to please all of the people all of the time. Unfortunately, our expectations overwhelm our reality and leave us disenchanted with our democracy. No one seems able to rekindle Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

  114. 'Pornography of pessimism' is an absurd phrase to apply to both serious criticism of American society and shallow fear mongering. Mr. Brooks should remember that alliteration is not a substitute for argument. At least he resisted 'nabobs of negativism.'

  115. Thank you for this. We will miss him very much and I am sure history will rate him a near great President. I am a long time Republican but I gave up after Bush the elder. The entire group of people running for either party are not nearly as good as Obama has been

  116. Yes, "pornography of pessimism" is the best political quote ever!

  117. David Brooks "misses" Obama. By remaining a Republican, he misses more than Obama; he misses the point! In writing "The Road to Character," Mr. Brooks gave us a wonderful, heartfelt book in praise of character. Any wonder that we hear DB struggle aloud with his cognitive dissonance?

  118. "The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free."

    David Brooks is 100% correct here, but a quick Google search of "Obama" and "scandals" turns up thousands of websites read and believed by Brooks' fellow Republicans and conservatives like Newsmax and others with headlines like "Obama at Two Dozen Scandals and Counting," "7 Scandals That Have Marred Obama's Presidency," and "The Complete Guide to Obama Administration Scandals, A to Z."

    There are also mainstream publications like The Atlantic and Salon with articles about the Obama administration's lack of scandals, but these outlets are derided by most Republicans as not trustworthy "lamestream" (to use Sarah Palin's word) media.

    If David Brooks already misses Barack Obama, wait and see what happens when and if Donald Trump, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz becomes President in less than a year. Republicans like Brooks will have to think carefully before voting for their party in November.

  119. Really? Obama is scandal-free?
    IRS blocking Republicans from forming organizations.
    That 'gruesome' video which 'caused' the deadly uprising in Benghazi.
    'You can keep your doctor.'
    'Fast and Furious '

  120. Do you have ANY evidence that ANYONE in the administration did ANYTHING immoral, unethical or illegal? No one else has seen any such evidence. Maybe you've been fooled by right wing media. I know on talk radio it's assumed that the "IRS scandal is worse than Watergate". But in the real world there has been no serious scandal with this administration.

  121. Those were Fox News pretend "scandals"

  122. This is a perfect example of how right wing adherents are able to construct their own alternate reality to justify their vsiceral hatred for the Muslim President from Kenya. Totally phoney scandals that even the tribunals of the Republican House and Senate have been unable to prove. How many Benghazi investigations? Nine so far. How many times have they voted against the ACA? I think it's about sixty five so far. And the anger of their base just increases as they bang their heads against the wall repetitively and mindlessly.

  123. And...... Here we go. David is realizing that politics is not ALL policy, it's fairness, inclusion, integrity, intelligence, caution and strength.
    In normal times these qualities would help drive sound policy from both parties.
    Alas, David and his conservative cohorts have reverted to primal urges for the past 8 years because they have no coherent political core.

  124. Had I not read your columns consistently for the past 7 years I would have surmised that you treated the President and his ideas as well as vision for America with respect and intellectual curiosity. Sadly, that was not the case. While you didn't question where he was born, his loyalty to the United States or Patriotism , label him a Muslim, Socialist , dictator or fascist you nonetheless panned literally everything he said and accomplished in favor of your Republican and Conservative friends. Now as you sit and write you realize that one of these seriously delusional men filled with hate and loathsome characteristics may be the nominee of your Party and worse perhaps President of the Country I know you love. That thought has been scaring you incredibly recently as well as the fact that your abject failure to call them , Fox News and all the others out for the reprehensible things they did and said over the past seven years that gave rise to a slate of candidates such as this. So I say thanks for your thoughtful words, but it is too little and too late!

  125. Your disdaining comment is why many people skew hard right or left. To be thoughtful and a centrist like Mr. Brooks is to win the scorn of both sides.

  126. David Brooks is a hard right Plutocrat, with social views leaning well to the right. He is not and never has been a centrist, like Obama and Sanders.

    The belief that a "hard left" even exists in the U.S. is an optical illusion created by the extremes the right has run off too, and the fact that the centrists have spent 24 years implementing right-leaning policies, trying to "find common ground" with people who scorn that very idea.

  127. "The Obama Administration has been remarkably scandal free."

    Well, I guess that depend ends on what you consider a scandal. Many think that the Fast and Furious gun-running program and subsequent cover-up was a scandal. Many view the fact that the IRS targeted conservative groups and that top officials took the fifth in front of congress a scandal. Likewise many find the VA mismanagement and attempted cover-up of same a scandal. And, of course, the entire Hillary email server 'issue' strikes many as a scandal. Not to mention similar private email 'arrangements' at the EPA.

    When confronted by evidence of these scandals, Obama has personally relied on the line " I first learned of this from news reports." Some consider that exculpatory, others view that as a scandal as well. I think Mr. Brooks falls in the exculpatory camp, which is basically saying that Obama's aloofness and detachment protect him from the many scandals in his Administration. That may make Obama scandal-ignorant, but it doesn't make his administration 'remarkably scandal-free'.

  128. Please. Compare his administration, as Mr. Brooks does, to Reagan's or Clinton's and Obama is a virtual choir boy.

  129. When I look at all of the current candidates, both Democrat and Republican, not one comes even close to the qualities, pragmatism and integrity that have been Obama's admirable strengths.

    Which leaves me rather hoping for an independent Bloomberg run.

    This may just be the right time, given the disappointing state of the process so far.

  130. Our health care is the most expensive in the world. Any successful attempt to reduce costs will inevitably entail epic social disruption; people will be laid off and paid less, and businesses will become less profitable. The same is true of reducing our military spending. For certain sorts of conservatives, the disruption is a reason for allowing whatever exists to continue existing whether its existence makes sense or not.

    Many people are not overjoyed at having employers involved in providing health benefits, and many employers are not overjoyed either. Expensive plans cut into profits and cheaper ones make their employees unhappy and involve them in trying to mediate disputes between insurers and employees. People with good health plans are not happy because the plans are provided by employers rather than in some other way.

    If we pay for more of our health care through taxes and less out of our individual pockets and employer spending that would otherwise appear in our paychecks, we may come out ahead. If a new health care system is cheaper, we should come out ahead. If massive tax hikes replace even more massive spending on health from other sources, we win.

    Our present health care system creates many jobs in administration that are necessary only in our system, so it is in part a jobs program that, because it masquerades as something else, is not amenable to effective management and avoidance of waste.

  131. Its rotten to the core, the most most expensive health care in the world. If you ask them why is it so expensive, they say well, pharma research is expensive, medical school is expensive, running a hospital and doctors' office is expensive, so let the customers pay us, we the healthcare industry will remain the most expensive in the Universe, leave alone planet earth.

  132. The integrity, empathy, and decency of the President are evident. In a political culture dominated by rage and insult, our President rises above the cacaphony. He explains things, if people care to listen to what he says. The connections between surprising events, basic values, and prudent action have seldom been clearer in the history of this great country. Lincoln and Washington, both bitterly excoriated by small critics, come to mind.

    The good news is that we don't miss Barack Obama, not yet. Hold the eulogies. He will remain President for about 11 more months. A lot of things can happen in 11 months, and we are fortunate to have the President we have.

    After that? Is it really true that the American people elect the leader the country needs? I just hope that we elect a President with the same qualities of true greatness.

  133. I had disagreements with Obama but I'm definitely going to miss his personality and the thought he put into the decisions.

  134. Already Obama is old news like Hillary and Bill.

    A hip as the press thinks it is,,in reality they are slow to change especially when it means they are loosing control of the outcome.

    I think the next President will be an exciting figure causing more Americans to stay informed...this will be fun.

  135. The owl of Minerva flies at dusk.

  136. Or as they say in Texas, "The turkey flies at night."

  137. "I hope the next presidency is a philosophic departure." Huh?

    Dude, conservatism is not a philosophy. It's a cover story for the propertied classes stealing from the poor.

    And the morality you love so much, Mr. Brooks? It does not consist of uplifting words. It consists of uplifting deeds. Like relieving the suffering of millions of Americans by giving them health care.

    If you miss Obama now, just wait until one of those Republican clowns is elected. You'll want to put Obama on Rushmore.

  138. We shall miss the President. Humanity, integrity and optimism don't always win elections. Sometimes fear, hatred and despair do prevail. That's only to be expected. Real people live with fear, hatred and despair. For the most part, they love drama and dramatize their fear and despair. Optimism is not so easy to dramatize and integrity is in short supply.

    The strength of democracy is that whenever fear, hatred and despair do win, their victory is short lived.

  139. Mr. Brooks,
    In a column in which you so much extol the President's decency, even-handedness and choice of words, I just wish you would practice what you so much admire.

    "Sanderscare?" What a marvelous way to promote a thoughtful, overdue discussion of the way we deliver health care to our citizens.

    You blew it.

  140. Note that it looks like "Sander scare."

  141. The Obama legacy will be written by future historians, not by David Brooks in
    the N.Y. Times. regardless of how David Brooks feels about President
    Obama, there too many problems that have not been resolved, including race
    relations in the U.S., the cauldron brewing in the Middle East, the Syrian
    refugee problem, and relations with Israel, our one democratic ally in the
    Middle East. The U.S. needs a change of leadership quicker than Mr. Brooks
    thinks.

  142. Wow. Race relations, the Middle East? Why not add global warming, cancer and poverty to the mix. What exactly were your expectations of President Obama? The country and the world have big problems. We ALL need to step up if we are going to solve them, but I don't see that happening and I'm not going to blame someone else for that.

  143. Actually, it's the GOP legacy that will be written by future historians. And they won't be kind.

  144. Your concerns are limited, which is your right, but the Middle East is not the whole world.

  145. "Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply."

    What do you mean, "we" kemosabe?

  146. David Brooks, you get me. As a millennial voter who voted for a president for the first time in 2008, I miss the enthusiasm of that campaign, the sense that there was a candidate that I could be excited about without huge caveats. Voting in this election with the options currently available feels like a compromise of massive proportions.

  147. Please don't demand "excitement" from any candidate because ultimately he/she has to contend with congress and the courts.

    That's our system, and all the emotion in the world won't overcome reactionary ignorance, unless voters
    want to change it.

  148. OK don't vote. That'll teach 'em.

  149. I am trying to square a characterization of "charming" for Marco Rubio with the vitriol within his "robotic" shtick on President Obama -- not to mention trying to square the at least previous Rubio support with this paean to President Obama. Talk about playing both sides against each other.

  150. It is good to hear a representative of the opposition admit that shout "Liar!" at the President during his first State of the Union speech might have been an outrage. Or that publicly stating that the only goal of the Republican Senate leader was to hold Mr. Obama to a single term, no mater the cost to the American people, might have been a bit over the top.

    It's too bad that the party of Lincoln didn't hold a higher value than simple control in it's opposition to so many of the President's initiatives. We would be better off today. His hope and change might have actually done the country some good. But I guess that's just the meat grinder politics that Republican's support, isn't it, Mr. Brooks?

  151. I hope to see you write a similar article about Hillary in 8 years.

  152. Do you not find yourself at least a little embarrassed to be writing this, given your track record?

  153. A classic of the genre. Having provided a genteel intellectual sheen to the scorched-earth, nihilist raging of the GOP for the last 85 months, Brooks suddenly pens an ode to the best qualities of President Obama — qualities that have been evident since at least 2008 to anyone with the generosity, or simple detachment, to see them. Of course Obama has faults – who doesn't?; of course his policy preferences are not universally embraced – whose are?

    Let's just recognize what Brooks is doing here – performing a pirouette to attack Hillary. (Bernie isn't getting the nomination.) Brooks knows that his coming rhetorical broadsides against Hillary will be much more effective if he can pose as a fair and discerning truth-teller who looks into the human soul without fear or favor. Sorry, but I've seen this movie before.

  154. Mr Brooks,
    Care to contrast the Congressional majority's conduct over the past few years to that of our President?

  155. I suspect that Mr. Brooks will take some serious heat from his party on this column...because it is true and they won't like that.

  156. David has never been straightforward..his political columns are always dog whistles, written in coded words. By equating Marco Rubio as the Republican Obama, young, fresh face, minority, David and Rubio's handlers want the Obama supporters to steer towards Marco. Fat chance, we don't get fooled by good looks...Marco will get a good telenovela role, he is good at memorizing his lines, delivering them with passion and there is a huge television viewership that will welcome a Latino star.

  157. Just as an "ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance" is evaporating from the campaign trail, so it is also from public political commentary at large.

    And I suppose that when you finally put your pen down and retire, David, I am going to miss you in much the same way you miss President Obama.

  158. Well, thank you Mr. Brooks, for stating what has been known about Obama to most outside of the Republican echo chamber for these last 7 years. By inference, you also state the obvious...that the current field of Republican presidential candidates lack presidential gravitas.

  159. How in the world can you say Obama's been "disdainful, aloof, resentful and insular" in one paragraph and then that he "radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance" in the very next? Either you're conflicted or he's psycho. Which is it?

  160. Seems a pretty good description to me. Good manners doesn't mean that he isn't aloof and disdainful of the crazies running around the government.

  161. David took those descriptives, adjectives from Maureen Dowd.

  162. Feeble praise intended only to disguise the shots at Bernie Sanders. Next time, try providing some credible support for your critique of Mr. Sanders.

  163. I'm planning on voting for Sanders in the primary (and hopefully the general) but he's got to get those young people to actually vote for other Democrats as well. We've got to get those Democrats into Congress!

  164. He did? By mentioning the social disruption that would occur if Sanders succeeded. And the unlikelihood of that success, despite Sanders's hectoring. I don't see this as a reason to vote against Sanders -- he's aspirational, after all, and it may be unfair to compare a campaign to an actual presidency. But Brooks's critique is credible.

  165. Hopefully, eight years from now, you will write a similar, albeit equally qualified mea culpa, about Bernie Sanders, and tell us that restoring infrastructure, jobs to invigorate the middle class, and Medi-Care for all, weren't such bad ideas.
    It would be nice to have another eight years with no new, pointless wars draining the economy.

  166. Yes, and when you add to the wonderful qualities outlined by Brooks, an agreement with Obama philosophically and in policy, you have quite a great president indeed! Oddly, the facets that Brooks bemoaned (philosophical outlook and policy decisions) are ones I embrace, so by any rational measure Obama has been a great breath of fresh air and will be missed.

  167. David, good to see that you're finally giving the Rockefeller Republican (and there's nothing wrong with being a Rockefeller Republican to a New Yorker) in the White House the due that he's deserved all along.

    But you are once again engaging in a campaign of misinformation.

    Any move to single payer in America would naturally have to include a private option for those citizen who wished to pay more - just as exists today in Canada.

    As it turns out, neither Canadians nor Brits have much of an issue, if any, with their single payer systems. These systems are also DRAMATICALLY CHEAPER than ours - which means that were this system to be implemented, much more money will remain in the pockets of citizens after this program is passed.

    How could this be so? Under the current system, a typical single American contract worker forced to purchase his own insurance is being asked to pay upwards of $5,000 for coverage that is accompanied by a $2,000 deductible - while still paying all the same taxes as the lucky person covered under an employed-based system, like you. Now, under a single payer system, that worker might be asked to pay several thousand more in taxes, but he will pay little-to-nothing in premiums, and receive coverage pretty much from dollar one. The dynamics of single payer enable dramatic cost savings that many companies will benefit from as well.

    Our current system neither works for individuals nor anyone outside of a parasitical healthcare industry.

  168. Imagine, Mr. Brooks, how you would describe President Obama's temperament had Republicans been willing to work with him on anything.

    Instead, beginning with a dinner the night of his first inaugural (which I believe you attended,) Republican ''leaders'' agreed they would oppose Obama on everything and have been remarkably consistent in their resolve.

    This has more than a little to do with our failure to make progress on the real issues that are troubling Americans over the past seven years.

    The supreme irony here is that Republican candidates now must make the ''Obama is the cause of all problems'' theme central to everything they say. That is the talking point that had poor Marco Rubio all crossed up, but it is the theme that organizes all Republican thought, no matter the actual facts and circumstances.

    Perhaps President Obama could have displayed more of the sunny side of his temperament had his opponents been willing to work with him on anything that would advance our Nation. It is a great gift to us that he has been as even tempered as he has.

  169. David Brooks was at that dinner where the 'leaders' decided to oppose Obama on everything? Is that true? Wow! Who else among the Republican pundits were at that dinner? I thought it was just politicians. Very disappointing if true. Very.

  170. The media, including Mr. Brooks, has been negligent by not reporting on the aforementioned dinner the night of Obama's inauguration in 2009. The Republican leaders vowed to deny Obama "any victories," and would oppose him on every last thing on his agenda. Perhaps they saw the decent human being he is and realized that diminishing him was the way to regain the White House in 2012. Ha! It didn't work fortunately.

  171. Of course you miss Barack Obama these days, David! And yes, Barack Hussein Obama during his two Presidential terms has radiated "an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance". Can you name even one GOP Tea Party candidate out of the 17 who were and are vying for the Presidency this bizarre election year who represents integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance? Thought not. Many of your readers - who do not share your political suasion - hope that a column such as this one about missing Barack Obama is the thin edge of the Republican Brooks turning into a Democrat wedge.

  172. Bravo, Mr. Brooks. I await your complete conversion.

  173. President Obama failed Israel on the Iran deal, has repeatedly caved in to Putin, let Assad off the hook and is leaving us with an Obamacare not worthy of its name.

    But personally and temperamentally, he has exhibited many attractive qualities. It would be a very good thing if Republicans could find someone like him to run for President, minus his policy ideas,
    apart from gun control.

  174. I guess war with Russia would have been better? Or maybe war with Iran, or in Syria or Libya. You sound like a guy who gets uptight if you and by reference your country doesn't win. Obama knows he could bomb to get his way. He didn't because he knows the stakes have to be very high to resort to bombs and troops at war.

  175. All he said was "No chem weapons." Not, "We will enter the war if they are used." And where are those chem weapons? Gone. Putin told Assad, "He means business." And he gave Assad the cover to quietly get rid of them. This is called nuanced foreign policy, and Bama has consistently practiced it. It ain't "Breaking News!!!!" that races the blood, but it's thoughtful, deep and precise. Most Americans can't appreciate it, and his opponents exploit it as "feckless" when it's actually subtly successful and true to his original purpose, but the president is one of the grownups in Washington.

  176. except really none of those things are true.... except when viewed through Fox News. He is cautious... what would you have him do to Putin, start a nuclear war? Is whatever Putin has gotten up to a serious problem for our national interests, or just for our national manhood? Testosterone-powered silliness isn't the road a civilized nation needs to go down. That's how they do things in Russia.

  177. Great article, President Obama has definitely raised the bar Inspite of
    repeatedly facing bad behavior from the right.

  178. Mr. Brooks where were you when speaking up regarding the president's decency and good character could have given those hell-bent on wanting him to fail -simply because his skin is dark - a moment to consider their bigoted views.. A lot of white pundits who didn't fall under the spell of fear of black people stood quietly by as congress attempted to chew up this "uppity" black man. Where were you in your President's defense? You can wring your hands in frustration at what is happening now re: the low-rent actions of your current list of candidates but this roster and its make up has been in the wings since Nixon - now, the piper is to be paid. Also, it seems you are ready to admit to the President's basic integrity and his scandal-free presidency - but know - there are African-americans out here who believe, as I do, that the ugly and racist resistance to President Obama's two terms in office IS the scandal.

  179. Hear, hear! Racism IS the primary scandal. And as the years unfold there will be a new polarity to contend with: the 'old guard' overt and covert racists vs. the Millennials who accept everybody and everything, as blithely as a chrysalis becomes a butterfly. Yes, the human condition defaults to affinity when we live in community, but are brutal racism and genocide human defaults too?
    As Ekow N. Yankah, professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, stated in his OpEd piece today, “The hope, however vain, is that we learn from our meanest moments.”

  180. True, you can't take race out of the equation when it comes to this president.
    I've said for years that being anti-Obama will not always make you a racist.
    But being a racist will always make you anti-Obama.
    It was a pleasant surprise to see Brooks write approvingly of the tone and character that Obama has brought to the presidency; what Brooks should have acknowledged is how remarkable it has been to sustain these values in the face of unrelenting and virulent opposition to the simple fact of a black man in the White House.

  181. By their columns, thou shalt know them.

    David Brooks, it speaks well of your own character that, despite policy disagreements with President, you could bring yourself to pay him a personal tribute.

    There seems to be something in the high places of politics and media that denudes the soul, that squelches the basic humaneness we all learned from our parents. So it was a breathe of fresh air to read your column.

    Unlike you, I do support Obama and do think he's been a great president. And I throw into the bargain that he's a guy I could hang out!

  182. Amen

  183. Sanderscare would destroy the health insurance industry. Reason enough for it! Tobacco companies are easier to defend as they at least afford users some transient pleasure before they kill them. Health insurance companies contribute nothing to anybody, just collect a toll. Pure rentiers. Eliminate their useless role and you right away chop almost ten percent off our ridiculous health tab.

  184. So will Brooks venture an opinion on this in his next column? I bet not. Shiny new paint on top of rusted metal, that is what today's column is.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/09/us/politics/congressional-republicans-...

    "Breaking with a 41-year-old tradition, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees announced that they would not even give the president’s budget director, Shaun Donovan, the usual hearings in their panels this week."

  185. The Rubio debate meltdown (an open question?) paired with yesterday's repetitive, robotic mantra about some insidious unnamed force shoving values down people's throats should take care of him, but maybe NH and South Carolina voters will give him a pass. In the face of Trump and Cruz, someone who looks like an altar boy probably looks like he's coming to the rescue. We could borrow part of the title from Krugman's piece yesterday, "Time-Loop" to describe Rubio's mental condition.

    Yes, we will miss Obama, because virtually none of the candidates out there have been brought up properly, particularly on the GOP side. Most of us wish it would all be over, because another nine months of this will just bring more vacuous bragging to the fore, challenged by inane responses.

    Brooks may miss Obama, but I miss that Hillary hasn't remained calm in the face of the challenge from Sanders, because at least that was half of the equation. The constant railing of Sanders at the machine, now matched by Hillary's "I'll fight for you" yelling leaves voters with nowhere to turn for a calm, reasoned discussion of policy and the direction of the country.

  186. Hillary needs to calm down. Just let the voters vote. Let Bill fight for you but keep Chelsea off the stage.

    And enough of running as a GRANDMA. It occurred to me the other day that her grandchild is only a year old. She has been a grandma for a very short period of her life. What does she really know about being a grandma? She is a fighter. Run on that and quit the grandma jazz.

  187. Yeah you miss him because your psyche and your reporting were firmly dedicated to his coronation.

  188. No, he actually misses him for the stated reasons, which are logical, sane and ... true.

  189. Sorry David but President Obama did not visit a mosque until he was almost to the end of the second term of his presidency with no more elections to worry about, so nothing really put at risk by his magnanimous gesture, very typical of his policies in general.

  190. Abe, if you were in your shoes, fending off Kenyan born Muslim socialist labels, what would you do?

  191. We heard Half-Baked Alaska endorse the idea-less Donald Trump a few weeks ago.

    Now Half-Baked Brooks endorses the idea-less Marco Rubio in this column.

    Brooks has vastly superior sentence structure, syntax, command of the English language and knowledge of classical history than Caribou Barbie, but his logic is the same.

    Brooks fails to mention that the Republican party has officially braced sedition as its guiding governmental light, an organization predicated on the glory of drowning the government in the bathtub and letting it come up for air only for forced pregnancies and state executions.

    "Bernie Sanders.... has been so blinded by his values that the reality of the situation does not seem to penetrate his mind."

    "The reality of the situation", Mr. Brooks, is that America has been a right-wing hijacked nation since the nation's great 1960's liberal leaders JFK, RFK, and MLK were 'coincidentally' slaughtered by 'mysterious' forces.

    'Sanderscare' is an attempt to correct the American obscenity that is our 18% of GDP healthcare-mafia extortion system that represents an annual $1 trillion tax surcharge vs. civilized countries paying just 10 - 12% of GDP.

    Bernie Sanders' values are human decency and telling the unvarnished truth, something he shares with Barack Obama.

    What you should be missing, Lord Brooks, is a Republican Party that had a brain in its head, that didn't deny reality for a living and that didn't spit out words like a stupid battery-operated Ken Doll.

  192. And what in the world is "Sanderscare?" Notice how Brooks is making it like "Sander SCARE."

  193. While I agree with most of your progressive goals, I'm afraid that -- in the post above -- you do help underscore Brooks' point about the lack of class in American politics today.

  194. Bernie is the only presidential candidate advocating for single payer or universal healthcare. Only he has the guts to take on the healthcare insurance lobby.
    We have millions of Americans without health insurance today. Even with ACA, people get Medicaid but unfortunately many providers do not cover Medicaid. One of my neighbors has Medicaid and the providers simply ridicule her.
    Lord Brooks please include campaign finance issues also in your columns. Then the voters can make easy decisions based on who is a shill and who is not.

  195. Brooks writes, at last, about the reasons that President Obama has been good for our country. It is a graceful change from the ubiquitous accusations that President Obama is a foreign usurper, an imperial President, a socialist, the Great Apologizer....

    Integrity, ethics and hard headed pragmatism are not bad qualities in a leader. The only quality he needed to add to be great was an ability to hide his own intelligence, and a schmoozing personality - and those were, really, more weaknesses of our Congress than Obama's.

    We will choose a weak President in this round. He or she may be very good at some things, but we are not going to get a really great package. Clinton carries, even after 29 years, the taint of the ugliness of the Clinton years; Sanders is inspiring, but his ideas aren't even meant to be pragmatic; Trump is Trump; Rubio is callow and more of a waffle than Bill Clinton ever was; Christie is nasty; Cruz - well, he just put a hold on the Ambassadorships to Norway and Sweden, so that he could leverage another unrelated issue. Cruz really would be the imperial President.

    But we will nominate people and elect one, and make the best of it. And we will recognize that President Obama is not the demon that the rightwing media machine has made him to be, undercutting the hope for useful governance for eight years.

  196. This President is the best in my lifetime and I never listen to the Republicans. The media, including the Times, legitimized the Republicans from the very beginning -- right around Obama's inauguration. Suddenly the Times was writing about Glenn Beck. Why legitimize that guy? Because he makes a lot of money on the radio?

  197. I agree with everything in your comment except your statement that PBO couldn't "hide his own intelligence." I want my Presidents to be as smart as they can be and intelligence should be celebrated. PB0 has booksmarts in abundance, but also emotional intelligence. Gosh I will miss him.

  198. "Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity,,"
    GET REAL.
    "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your healthcare plan."
    And at least a hundred more I could come up with if I wanted to take the time.
    The only way Obama has integrity is compared to Hillary Clinton.

  199. Take the time, enlighten us. "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your healthcare plan." - the crappy plans that most lost don't exist any more..if they did, you could keep the. the greater good was served by having over 14 million people now covered. Don't give me 100, give me 20. can't do it?

  200. President Obama didn't take your health plan away, your insurance provider did. It was almost worthless anyway. Critical thinking is so hard now a days.

  201. It's worth remembering you didn't "come up" with any of that.. It's all you remember from fox news. Perhaps if the GOP had been more focused on results, than sedition, you would have gotten to keep that doc.

    Incidentally... Did you have health insurance before? Did you have a regular doc?

  202. Good observation, David. John McCain beat you to it by eight years. McCain's the one who corrected the woman at the McCain rally back in 2008, a crowd filled with red-meat supporters who flat-out booed McCain when he assured the woman Obama was a decent family man and not a person to fear. Politics generally prefers crass over class. Good to know guys like Obama and McCain prefer the latter. It's important, in my opinion, for young people and aspirants to see mannered, respectful behavior in the people who run our cities, states and country. It's called being a role model. It's how you attract good people to politics. Guys like Obama and McCain get it. Guys like Donald Trump, who told Jeb Bush to shut up at the last debate, never will.

  203. That was McCain's finest moment but he is the one who unleashed Palin on us so he gets no applause from me.

  204. And let's remember that exchange:

    Woman at rally: "I don't trust Obama...he's an Arab."

    McCain: "No, Ma'am. He's a good family man with whom I happen to disagree".

    Apparently, no Arabs can be "family" men.

    This exchange was hardly a refutation, possibly because the Senator didn't know where to begin. All Arabs are not necessarily Muslims, which is most likely what the potential voter meant. But he did try.

  205. "We have problems, but they are less serious than those faced by just about any other nation on earth."

    It's this kind of glib pronouncement which drives me crazy. What does Brooks know about every nation on earth? How about just a few other nations? Well basically nothing. Yet he thinks he can make a sweeping statement about the "seriousness" of problems facing various societies because - well because why? Other than a need to tell those below him in the pyramid that they better keep holding him up?

  206. Obama is a genuinely compassionate man. Many NYT commenters have called him dishonest. One in Congrress called him a liar. All of them wrong. He and Jimmy Carter may be the most ethical presidents we've had in my lifetime.

  207. Jimmy Carter may not go down in history as a great President but he surely will be up there among the greatest ex-Presidents.

  208. The NDAA and remote killing by drone are compassionate or ethical?

  209. And the most Christian.

  210. Mr Brooks, where on earth have you been for the last 8 years.? You write a column like this just now? You have the nerve to praise a president that your party spento 8 years to attacking, denigrating, demonizing and obstructing?

    I am simply shaking my head at the gall of this column. All of president Obama's character qualities that you are praising here have been on full display for 8 years and it would have been nice to acknowledge them before it took a truckload of crazies and uncivil clowns to bring out this these sentiments of yours.

    Yes the GOP has brough a new vulgarity to the national scene from which we may never recover. When did you ever see a presidential candidate candidate use four letter words with the frequency of a Donald Trump? When did you ever see the cynical, self serving and usually snide innuendo thrown out like red meat by the likes of Ted Cruz?

    And much of that has been thrown at the sitting president which you now say you are going to miss. I am appalled. We all would have enjoyed these observations from you a lot sooner then now.

  211. I totally agree. Unless Brooks and the NY Times is going to somehow demand four more years of this President (is 8 too greedy?), there is nothing else to do at this point. If we had abolished term limits, we could have had another 8 years of W.

  212. Agree with every word you say.

  213. Yep, even as Davie takes from a dark closet to strut the courage of newfound realizations they're still dim in the glaring light of his years of venal, cowardly, disingenuous service to the destruction of all that Obama champions.

    And to use this guff to transition into an equally venal, cowardly, disingenuous character-assassination of Bernie Sanders, while such a plank may endear him to NYT management, only displays his reversion to caste.

  214. thank you for that. i've never understood the conservative attitude that if you disagree with obama's policies, everything about him must be bad. his calm, intelligent, compassionate, courteous nature, and grace under unrelenting pressure should make all americans proud.

  215. David well written column. Maybe Maureen Dowd should read it. As far as accomplishments go if Obama was a Republican and passed a Conservative Health Care program, over saw a jog growth and a stock market revival unmatched in American History plus GM and bin Laden not only would the GOP want him on Mt. Rushmore they would want to change the name to Mt. Obama.

  216. Mt. Obama! I like the sound of that.

    If we can only get Sanders in office, we may be able to make that happen.

  217. Scandal free!? For goodness sakes. The biggest scandal is the DOJ ignoring the long list of scandals. From fast and furious to the IRS targeting to Benghazi where it appears Obama-Clinton eliminated someone who might have taken issue with their illegal weapons smuggling program. Promoting illegal immigration by handcuffing CBP and INS. Hillary's server,etc. No heads rolled. Obama promised to punish his enemies and reward his friends.

    Obama may be the most corrupt Marxist Democrat to have held office. Obama is a disgrace to the USA.

  218. Thank you Bruce. Brooks was giving me hope that clear rational thought was taking hold on the right. But no...

  219. Calm down Bruce, you'll hurt yourself.

  220. well said. I'm amazed by Brooks' obtuseness.

  221. Me too, Mr. Brooks.

    In terms of basic decency and integrity, Jimmy Carter may be only president of my lifetime to compare favorably to Barack Obama, but Obama's political and governing skills far exceed Carter's.

    Looking at all of the candidates to replace him, I'm afraid we're about to get a president we deserve. We certainly haven't deserved a president as good as Obama.

  222. Carter outperformed by Obama? Yes. But if those hostages had been rescued, Carter would have had a 2nd term.

  223. Well said.

  224. Hmmm....sounds like the attributes of a real president....

  225. This column show's the even-handedness of Brooks' perspective - his best quality. A shame more Republicans aren't more like him.

  226. And Democrats.......

  227. David Brooks paragraph "Take health care......" is an example of error and propaganda. Obamacare is alleged to have taken coverage away from only a small minority of Americans thus ignoring the many more Americans who benefit greatly. Sanderscare truly would destroy the health insurance industry but massive tax hikes is not part of that package. Britain and Europe tax their peoples to pay for much more effective health care than Americans get but the taxes are approximately half of the amounts that Americans pay. Adopting such a system would put much more money into the pockets of the ordinary person rather than the insurance industry.

  228. I've said it before and I'll say it again. You can tax me at the rate that I pay for insurance every month if we get a national health care system and I will still come out ahead because of deductibles. My insurance premium is about 11 percent of my gross monthly income. I'm even willing to pay a little more if I can see a video of insurance executives all sad faced and unemployed.

  229. This is totally untrue. And if this is an example of the mythology taking root within the Sanders campaign it's dangerously so. Europeans pay higher taxes than we do by and large, but get more government services in return, which in turn breeds a healthy respect for sacrifice for the common good and the positive role of government. They also don't police the world and spend far less on the military. But to say Europeans pay LESS taxes AND get free healthcare and education is dishonest.

  230. Finally! A Republican realizes that Barack Obama is an educated, thoughtful and honorable man. I don't agree with all of the president's decisions either, but no one can honestly fault the dignity and dedication he has brought to the White House. No one, that is, but the classless sorts who are running behind the clown car this election season.(Too crowded in the car for all to ride.)

  231. "No one...but the classless sorts who are running behind the clown car..."

    You venerate Obama, then berate those who disagree.

    Typical.

  232. Another fair, thoughtful, and decisive president should follow Obama. Where is Elizabeth W.?

  233. Sanders VP?

  234. Where? Ask the Electoral College.

  235. Mr. Brooks hopes for a "philosophic departure" from Obama. In another era, President Obama would have been considered a liberal Republican, so where exactly does want Mr. Brooks want to go?

    Answer: back to the 19th century.

  236. If Presidents were allowed a third term, I have little doubt that Barack Obama would win one and deservedly so.

  237. I'm voting for him as a write-in. I just can't bring myself to vote for anyone else.

  238. Glad there aren't 3rd terms tho. Much as I like him and think he would win, clean sweeps around once a decade are a good thing.

  239. I think the one exception to "they have mostly attracted and hired people with high personal standards." is Rahm Emanuel. You do say "mostly," but Chief of Staff is a big hire. Perhaps Obama needed someone of Emanuel's temperament of the time to offset his. I'd be curios if he would have chosen someone different if he could do it again.

  240. What is philosophic departure?

    I know what epic social disruption is, it is Brooks playing with words.

    So pretend to give respect to Obama as a method to insult others.

    Epic Brooks man.

  241. I have frequently said that Mr. Brooks ois the best conservative writer in our nation. But as usual I must disagree with a few points. For one, the radical right has made Mr. Obama look good in comparison. Secondly Mr. Brooks couldn't resist attacking Mr. Sanders, not on the benefit of his proposals but on the practicality of their achievability. These ideas are worth debating.
    Having said that, I look forward to reading Mr. Brooks column every time.
    David you are always thought provoking and I can't wait to read some of the radical right comments you will receive on this one.

  242. The NYT has very few radical right readers :-)

  243. At last, what I've been saying while everyone looks at me oddly. I'd vote for him a 3rd time.

    He pulled us out of 2 endless unwindable wars; courageous enough to not be pulled into yet another worthless conflict we cannot win; whacked Osama and then refused to spike that football; back from the brink of a would be 2nd Great Depression; some fundamental economic rules in place; not in thrall to the gun lobby or mentioning God constantly as if he was Cotton Mather; calm, logical and refuses to be baited; no scandals; a decent father and family man; accepting the science of global warming; etc.

    We are on the precipice with Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Clinton and Sanders. Again. Maybe thats' why the country is so angry. Ah, Democracy.

  244. Four more years! Absolutely.

    And with the caveat that there MUST be someone UNDER 50 who is a viable candidate for the next President of the United States. I say that as someone over 50.

    Martin O'Malley was a good candidate that was ruined by the Hillary coronation machine. Hillary will be an effective President but the fact that she didn't have (want) anyone to challenge her was ridiculous. Then came Sanders, thank goodness. Hillary didn't know how much this country needed (needs) a Bernie Sanders. It took me a while but I am FEELING THE BERN.

    However, I still say that we need young people running for President. And Hillary, don't mention Chelsea now that she's 35, the minimum age to run. I'm not going to vote for Chelsea Clinton and I won't be voting for her Mom, either, at least not in the primary.

    Obama '16

  245. Nicely said Mr. Brooks- perhaps the reality of what your republican , conscious conservatives will do to this country should they be elected is starting to sink in. Is this the best the GOP has to offer? Seems like we heard this tune once before from 2000-2008. Where were you during the 8 years of obstructionism, and hate filled rhetoric? Shutting down the government? Birtherism? Strangely silent....

  246. Mr. Brooks, along with the rest of the GOP was applauding this reprehensible behavior. Destroying America is their goal. Truly, I cannot understand how the GOP gets a single vote.

  247. I've been saying this since 2009: that the country is going to miss the peacefulness of an Obama presidency. This is an upstanding man. No Black man was going to be elected without having a spotless record. He wouldn't dare have a sexual scandal and Obama already admitted his youthful drug use.

    Many of us are going to miss this President. But the good news is that he'll be an ex-President, giving speeches around the country and world. Barack and Michelle Obama will continue to do good work.

    Marco Rubio is not Barack Obama. I don't care if he needed water for his mouth. It's what comes out of his mouth that is disrespectful to the President and our country. Maybe he should wash out his mouth with that water and have some respect for the President and the highest office of the land. I admired Rubio when I first heard his story but he's just another Republican puppet and I'm glad that Chris Christie gave it to him in the debate the other night.

    We all wanted President Obama to be more of a fighter. But an angry Black man was not going to win the White House. Donald Trump is allowed to be angry but notice that Ben Carson has to spew his anger in a soft voice.

    Ben Carson will not succeed Barack Obama. Whoever does will have big shoes to fill. Because Barack Obama is the best President of our lifetime. And you, David Brooks, did not give him enough credit because you are lost in Republican-world where everything good is bad and everything bad is good.

  248. "...Barack Obama is the best President of our lifetime."

    I'm very impressed, Debra. You're quite articulate for a seven-year-old!

  249. Well said!

  250. Too bad your party has spent the past 7 years diminishing every aspect of the president and instilling the paranoid tendency among the far right so brilliantly dissected by an historian many years ago.

    The result is a party with Trump in the lead and Cruz not far behind.

  251. On this earthly realm we are told its all about duality. It is in contrast that we are able to decipher good from bad, contradistinguish. For that we are grateful to Mr Obama, he has set the bar really high.

  252. That said, I'm not sure David is a Republican any longer, judging from a read of his recent columns.

  253. And Mr. Brooks, when you wonder why the poor whites vote for Trump and Cruz and against their own best interests, think of Republican efforts to dismantle and defund public education, deny science and now allow leaded water to maintain a dumbed-down public as witnessed in todays NYT's Article where- "Both houses passed legislation to block a new Clean Water Act regulation, the Waters of the United States rule, that aims to assert authority over those waters, which the Supreme Court had questioned in 2001 and 2006 rulings.
    And Senator James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican "Science Denier' who is chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, denounced the rule as a federal power grab.
    President Obama vetoed that legislation last month, but more than two dozen states have sued to block the rule. Among their arguments: It would hurt business.' Go on to read 'Republicans Rebuff Obama's Budget Sight Unseen'. Yes 'Make America Great Again' will certainly have you missing the 'Great America' as well. and not the one of Reagan and 'W'.

  254. All that you write is true -- and doubly meaningful coming from you.

    What is profoundly frightening is the significant portion of our country (maybe 20 percent?) that deeply hates Obama, and that seems sincerely to believe he is an evil person, scheming to destroy America (Rubio says precisely this repeatedly, and repeatedly, and repeatedly -- he must believe there are lots of votes in that -- but all the Republican candidates stoke the fires of hatred and disrespect).

    It is especially of course in the old Confederacy that this hatred and paranoid belief is rampant; but they say that his race has nothing to do with it.

    History will rank Obama as one of the finest human beings (among the top three or so) who have ever served as President. We all should be intensely grateful.

  255. "History will rank Obama as one of the finest human beings...who have ever served as President."

    I've always presumed the vast majority of those who've served as President have been human beings.

    Nonetheless, if I was a gambling man, I'd accept your wager - although I may not live long enough to see what historians do with his "legacy."

    I guess my children would have to collect the winnings.

  256. Too little, too late, Mr. Books. After eight years of carrying water for politicians who treated Barack Obama with contempt and hostility, you finally acknowledge that he is a far better man than any of those you supported and defended--now, when it is too late for your considerable influence to help shape a more positive atmosphere for his presidency. A better title for this column would be "I Missed Barack Obama," because while millions of us were appreciating and backing the efforts of this worthy leader, you simply had no idea what you were looking at.

  257. My sentiments also... too little too late

  258. perfectly and concisely said. So true!

  259. Dear Mr. Brooks,
    What can I say?
    Thank you.
    Does ANYONE in the Frankenstein monster known as the GOP/TP/KOCH AFFILIATE talk to you at all?

  260. I suspect, too, our nation will be missing Obama more in 2017. History will, however, be good to him, I believe. He has accomplished too much in the face of opposition determined to undermine and destroy him in every way possible.

  261. Right. No one is perfect. I too have been disappointed by Mr. Obama at times. That said, much has been accomplished. The current crop of GOP candidates scared me because they seem to think that one leads on the world stage only through intimidation, entitlement (we are the "greatest" so all others should dance to our tune), and violence (for those who displease us). With the devastating weapons in our modern world, with terrorist groups who have no principles and no control except the rule of the jungle, the intention to alienate everyone (friend, frienemy, or foe) who does not cave to our will is dangerous beyond measure. Mr. Cruz promises to "undo" the Iran deal on his "first day in office," which leaves open the screaming question "Then what?" He also promises to carpet bomb ISIS (and their families who apparently are harboring 2 year old terrorists). One can only assume that those supporting him are either not listening or are not very bright.

  262. We are still digging out from the world wide disaster left by the previous GOP president.
    Perish the thought of returning to those days again.

  263. Don't forget the Cruz was not alone in saying he would reinstate torture. What twisted self lies behind embracing such actions? No one any normal or decent person would want as a neighbor.

  264. David, that is the problem with the Republican party since Reagan and they keep moving farther right trying to drag America with them. They spread the word of fear and pessimism, it is their main campaign slogan. They have been very public in their denunciation and villification of anyone other than hard right Republicans, particularly the president. Their public behavior of both them and their supporters is similar to lynch mobs and Roman circuses. Civility has turned to the dark side in this country and Republicans are the leaders of the anti civility movement.

  265. You maintain that Obama was too often 'disdainful, aloof, resentful, and insular'. But given the limits of his situation, and his opponents, aren't disdain, distancing, resentment, and insulation virtues.
    I resent republicans for choosing ideology over the lives of thousands of people in rejecting the expansion of medicaid. I resent republicans who decided to reject every idea offered by Obama , even ones that were essentially republican, in a failed gambit to retake the white house, and then rejecting them out of pure spite. Resentment in the right context is just what Aristotle called 'righteous indignation' and Obama had plenty of that, as he should have.
    Of course one should distance one's self, and remain above the fray if the fray is straight out of the worst of DC's sizeable gutter. Your party has been promoting the backflow from these drains and gutters for too long. And yes Obama should insulate himself from that, and he was hardly insular in the face of mass shootings.
    Obama's great flaw is in giving too much respect to your party, and worrying too much about bipartisanship. Your party has behaved so poorly since the Clintons , and increasingly so, as to create President Sanders. Serves you right after trashing so much of what the GOP has touched when it even bothers to raise its hands and get involved.

  266. What is a black man to do? If he holds his head high in dignity they slam him as arrogant. If he takes a stand they call him dictator. Mr Obama had to go it alone because even his democrats failed to give him the support he so badly needed. Do you know what it feels like to go it alone? Gandhi tried it while novel laureate Rabindra Tagore sang ekla cholo re, go solo) and swept an entire nation to independence.

  267. " The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free." Fast and Furious? IRS targeting of conservative groups?

    "There are all sorts of unsightly character...This sort has been blocked from team Obama." Sure. Like Rahm Emanuel. And he tried to hire Van Jones, and Bill Richardson, and Tom Daschle.

    Obama has been the most divisive President in our lifetime, and that is saying a lot (Johnson, Nixon, were hated by the end of their terms, and the country had been split wide open under their leadership).

  268. @David Ricardo
    Massachusetts

    There is no IRS scandal, Fast and Furious is was a program launched by the Bush administration and all happened a long way from Washington and the administration. Obama the most divisive president? So why was George Bush's approval rating in the low 30's when he left office.

  269. If he has been 'divisive', it is only because his detractors insist on living in an alternative reality - which is why a robot like Rubio can be taken seriously while sprouting the same patently false lines over and over and over again.

    Based on how he governed, Barack Obama would a centrist Republican (given his faith in globalist trade deals, willingness to compromise on tax cuts, etc.) in another era.

    Why not face the truth that conservatives have gone collectively insane - and Brooks is at least willing to admit this, while the rest of you remain deep, deep FOX-induced collective denial?

  270. Your lenses are blurry from partisan smudge.