10 Barack Obama Controversies You Forgot About

10 Barack Obama Controversies You Forgot About 10 New Black Panther voter intimidation Obama, of course, had a tumultuous tenure as president, but the controversy actually came before he was even in the Oval Office

In fact, one of the first scandals, if you want to call it that, came on polling day itself On November 4th 2008, the leader of Philadelphia's New Black Panther Party, Maruse Heath, became the center of a political firestorm after he stood in front of a polling station dressed in paramilitary uniform – not really doing much but apparently menacing That soon led to a criminal investigation at the insistence of J Christian Adams, a Bush-era justice department worker who considered Heath’s actions a civil rights abuse of white people Heath’s voter intimidation charge was quickly dropped by the justice department and the majority of the media saw it as a bit of a non-story, but the case continued to cause arguments in conservative circles, who saw it as an early opportunity to attack Obama for going easy on hate groups

So, whether it was right or not, it’s pretty clear that this set the tone for coverage of the Obama administration 9 Drone Strikes Obama is generally looked back on as a liberal, reformist president – and that’s a well-deserved title in quite a few respects, like healthcare, finance law and race relations But even so, it’s not all clean sailing for ol’ Barry O The dude has a pretty iffy record on foreign policy, and by iffy, I mean machines raining hellfire from the sky

According to nonprofit news service The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the use of unmanned drone strikes skyrocketed under the Obama administration Under Bush, there were 57 strikes But Obama oversaw 563, mostly in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen – that’s a ten-fold increase In fact, Obama carried out more strikes in his first year than Bush’s entire presidency The administration claims the strikes were “exceptionally surgical and precise”, but the casualty figures tell a different story

The first strike in 2009 missed and killed innocent people, and an attack shortly before Obama left office killed as many as FORTY-ONE civilians Sure you can argue that this was just the natural development of military tech, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should 8 Merrick Garland Under the US constitution, new Supreme Court judges are appointed by the nomination of sitting presidents, who then get their choice approved by the senate Good stuff, nice and easy

That isn’t always the case though In fact, Supreme Court appointments are often highly politicised issues, as we’ve seen with Justice Brett Kavanaugh under President Trump But in the last year of Obama’s second term, he faced a truly unprecedented Supreme court controversy after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016 You see, with almost a year left, Obama had a pretty long time to confirm his pick, the generally highly regarded Merrick Garland But he couldn’t get that done due to the decisions of the Senate Republicans, led by Turtle-in-Chief Mitch McConnell

McConnell claimed that any Obama appointment to the Supreme Court would be “null and void”, and didn’t even allow Garland’s appointment to go ahead for debate and scrutiny His intention was to push Obama’s appointment to the next presidency – which in this case just happened to be Trump’s, though in all fairness it could have been Clinton’s 7 Tan Suit-gate There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Obama’s presidency Some good, some bad, almost all of it legitimate praise and scrutiny

But here’s one thing that isn’t AT ALL a serious line of questioning: the colour of his SUIT Yep, In August 2014, Obama was scheduled to hold a press conference addressing the nation on ISIS, Russia and Ukraine But little did the public know, he was about to drop a political bombshell on reporters, the internet and especially Fox News by wearing his summer suit His TAN summer suit Seriously, it was tan

TAN His suit was TAAAAAAAAAAAN He wore a tan suit, which was tan Now to be fair, it wasn’t a great suit But the political fall out that came from certain portions of the press became emblematic of the depths to which critical coverage of the president would sink

It was called “shocking, “unpresidential” over and over again and one commentator even said it was “proof he’s a Marxist” Boy, I can’t wait until Bernie Sanders wears a red tie and they say it’s a nod to Trotsky 6 ZunZuneo The United States has a reputation for intervention in regimes perceived as hostile, particularly when it comes to Latin America and, in particular, Cuba You only have to look at the Bay of Pigs, followed by the long string of attempted assassinations of Fidel Castro

But perhaps the weirdest attempt to influence Cuban politics became public in 2014 with ‘ZunZuneo’ That was the name given to a social networking and microblogging site that operated during the Obama administration between 2009 and 2012 in Cuba – unsurprisingly it was dubbed ‘Cuban Twitter’ But the strange thing about ZunZuneo is that it was actually a project led by the United States Agency for International Development with the goal of destabilising the relationship between the government and the people, effectively creating a “Cuban spring” Initially, USAID denied the story, which was based on documents obtained by the Associated Press, but the agency eventually confirmed its involvement, which undermines the Government program’s claim that it doesn’t take covert action in countries where it provides aid 5

Gitmo Guantanamo Bay is one of the most consistent controversies of the 21st century, and one that has dogged the administration of George W Bush as well as Barack Obama Because of its reputation for indefinite detention without trial and human rights violations, Obama pledged to close it down as part of his campaign to become President He even signed an executive order to do so in his first year on the job But despite that, there were still fifty-five prisoners left at the end of his second term

In other words, he either failed or turned his back on the pledge – which is a pretty big deal for anyone who cares about human rights, obviously Obama’s excuse was that Congressional stubbornness was hamstringing him in his pursuit, but according to the New Yorker, further investigation revealed a complex chess game between the White House, Pentagon, Congress and various government departments He even told a child at a public appearance that “the path of least resistance was just to leave it open” So, uh, what was all that stuff about Hope again? 4 AP Phone Records So, you’re not going to find the Snowden leaks anywhere on this, since it’s pretty hard to forget about some of the most invasive surveillance scandals you’re likely to find in a western democracy

But don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from when it comes to the Obama administration and privacy Back in 2013, it emerged that the Justice Department had secretly obtained masses of phone records from Associated Press journalists, including home phones and cell phones of individual reporters The news agency called it a “serious interference with [it’s] constitutional rights to gather and report the news,” and with good cause, since one of the first principles of a free press is, y’know, freedom – especially from government intrusion Even worse, it’s not actually known WHY this surveillance was taking place, but it’s assumed that it was related to the details of a foiled 2012 terror plot in Yemen published by AP And as you’d hope, the justice department, as well as Obama himself, came under heavy fire from both the media and congress – including reps who normally supported the president

3 Libya As you can tell from the drone strikes, Obama’s foreign policy record isn’t exactly stellar But we don’t need endless analysis from newscasters, pundits, and listicle presenters to know that – the man pretty much said it himself when it came to Libya Back in 2011, the threat posed to his own people by Libyan president Muammar Gadaffi appeared to be ramping up to dangerous levels, which led to a fierce debate between pro- and anti-intervention White House factions led by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden respectively Unsurprisingly the interventionists got their way, since the action obviously took place

But while the strategy was hailed as an immediate success after the Libyan people dragged the man who would have murdered them en masse through the streets, hindsight is horrifyingly 20/20 It didn’t take long for analysts to realise that the UN coalition force had essentially chopped the head off a hydra and didn’t stick around to contain the fallout since Libya quickly devolved into a “failed state” exploited by extremists Now, what was hailed a success at the time is perhaps Obama’s darkest legacy 2 Keystone XL It’s not uncommon for environmental concerns to come into fierce conflict with business interests since it’s pretty rare for expansions and new projects to be particularly green enterprises

That’s perhaps no more true than in the oil industry, as Obama learned pretty early on in his presidential career Not long after taking office, he was presented with the Keystone XL pipeline project, which sought to link Alberta, Canada to the Texas gulf coast to MASSIVELY expand output to oil refineries Back in 2009, that seemed like a sure thing, but opposition from environmentalists began to mount and continued pretty much the entirety of Obama’s two terms Protestors chained themselves to the White House gates, made alliances with farmers and pretty much forced Obama to choose between the economy and the environment But in 2015 after years of dithering, he eventually picked a side and cancelled the project in the run-up to the Paris Climate Deal

Pity that was all for nought though, but at least for one brief shining moment we saw what it looks like when the US leads on climate change 1 Obamacare Nowadays, the Democratic primary campaign is all about healthcare In particular, most of the major candidates are talking about some variation on Medicare for All – except Biden – but amongst all this, it’s easy to forget how big a deal the Affordable Care Act was And not just for good reasons

From the offset, the policy was a source of endless resistance from Republicans, which was a big problem considering Democrats didn’t have the Senate on side Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi famously claimed “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy” – suggesting that the public would warm to it when they felt the benefit Unfortunately that never really materialised, since the first half of that quote was frequently taken out of context to make it look like Democrats were being shady Even AFTER it passed, the conservative media kept its teeth in Obamacare and it never got its breathing space

So, this Christmas, let’s keep the arguments in perspective when healthcare comes up on TV and Bernie starts saying “I wrote the damn bill!”

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