The Positive Piece of Obama’s Legacy

A conservative friend took a picture of the back of a man’s shirt while waiting in line for entry into Guadalupe River State Park. He sent it to me and to a mutual friend of another political persuasion.

The shirt displayed a black and white picture of President Obama with a red diagonal line through it. (Picture the universal Do Not Enter symbol or the Ghostbusters icon).

“My people!” wrote my reliably Republican friend in his text accompanying the image.

“How’s the real estate on the left side of the intellectual bell curve? Still going cheap?” queried our progressive friend who ironically resides in Waco.

“At least it’s a respectable rendering of our 44th president,” I responded, remembering the evil-looking Joker Obamas I’ve seen over the last eight years.

Eight years ago, many of us predicted the liberal over-reach that became the hallmark of the Obama Administration. Obama’s was an extreme agenda that cost the Democratic Party seats in Washington and statehouses across the nation.

President Obama’s tenure was what we expected from someone whose African grandfather once advocated for 100% marginal tax brackets. His Chicago ties were no less radical. Fortunately, the strength of the American political system limited his impact.

But his very presence in the highest political office in the land – and the way he has handled himself personally there – have been positive for black males, particularly young black males.

As Peggy Noonan notes in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, for those raised by a young mother or grandmother, with more needs than resources most of the time, being treated less than ideally at least some of the time, a black man in the White House has provided an example to follow.

Black males have risen to the pinnacle of the sports world. But Obama’s rise to the top of the public sector further opened philosophical doors of opportunity for African Americans, even if some of them considered him “Ivy League,” even if they still aspire to be more LeBron than Barack.

It explains why LeBron James came out for Obama’s surrogate, Hillary Clinton, in last year’s campaign.

In Sports Illustrated’s selection of James as Sportsperson of the Year, writer Lee Jenkins notes how surreal it is for James to be living in an intact family with his high school sweetheart and their three children. James grew up the son of a single mother who moved more times than he can count.

Like other urban millennial males, James had few ready examples to follow into masculine adulthood. Barack Obama, with his scandal-free operating, his clear commitment to his family, his simply going to work everyday, provided one.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t have my father, so you looked up to people in positions of power,” James said in the SI piece. “It could be athletes or actors or leaders, like presidents.”

I rarely, if ever, agreed politically with our outgoing president. But I often respected the manners with which he carried himself. On a basic level, President Obama served as a role model for many who desperately needed one. As a result, he now leaves the Oval Office with its dignity intact.

That’s better than the last Democrat left it.



Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at

4 Responses to “The Positive Piece of Obama’s Legacy”

  1. 1 Angie Thier January 19, 2017 at 22:28

    Well said, KT! I agree completely!

  2. 2 mebechjo January 20, 2017 at 22:26

    Has it been positive for just black males? What about others who have not been well represented? And is having diverse role models not also positive for even white males? If you believe the only legacy he leaves is due to the color of his skin, then maybe you can help inspire others who look like you to see the benefit to everyone of having diverse leaders and role models.

    • 3 Kevin Thompson January 20, 2017 at 22:40

      Thanks for commenting. I’ll answer your questions one at a time.

      1. Has it been positive for just black males? I said it has been positive for black males. I did not say it has been positive only for black males.

      2. What about others who have not been well represented? It has been positive for them, as well.

      3. And is having diverse role models not also positive for even white males? It is positive. Please read:

      • 4 mebechjo January 20, 2017 at 22:54

        Thanks, Kevin. I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on this if you care to share. I was reading Brene Brown tonight, and you came to mind. Hope all is going well for you.


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