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Commentary: Obama’s Classless Exit

President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to speak at McCormick Place in Chicago on Jan. 10 to give his presidential farewell address. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

President Barack Obama’s final days in office would be laughable if they weren’t so insulting, self-aggrandizing and, frankly, sad.

Obama entered office in 2009 as the “people’s president,” a leader supposedly dedicated to the welfare of the common man. He’s leaving office fixated on two things: building his own legacy and paying back the numerous sycophantic lackeys who bowed to his every desire for eight seemingly endless years.

The insanity began in November, when an emotional Obama handed out Medals of Freedom to a slew of teary-eyed celebrities who had coincidently just so happened to be big Obama supporters. Among those awarded were Ellen DeGeneres, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, Robert De Niro.

The Medal of Freedom is the highest award given to civilians, and I’m sure you can’t think of any group of people more deserving than a bunch of millionaires from Hollywood, right?

Obama’s celebrity payback was just the start. Earlier in January, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter awarded Obama with the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, “the highest honorary award presented by the Secretary of Defense to non-career Federal employees, private citizens, and foreign nationals.”

I guess the Department of Defense, which is in Obama’s executive branch, forgot the Middle East has burst into flames since Obama has become president; we’ve had an American ambassador murdered, along with a good-old-fashioned government cover-up; and a massive Veterans Administration scandal, which still has not totally been resolved, that led to the deaths of veterans left waiting hopelessly for health care. Additionally, the Military Times reports Obama’s approval rating among military service members is only about 36 percent, with only 18 percent saying they have a “very favorable” view of him.

“Distinguished service?” I suppose, if by “distinguished” we mean “notably horrific.”

And how could we forget about Obama’s farewell party, which reportedly included dozens of “A-list” celebrities, including, according to a story by Time, “Meryl Streep, Paul McCartney, Tom Hanks, George and Amal Clooney, Stevie Wonder, Robert De Niro, George Lucas, Lena Dunham, David Letterman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Rock, Tyler Perry, Jason Sudeikis, Jon Hamm and Tracy Ellis,” among many others.

According to Hollywood Life, “The Obamas’ parties have become the stuff of legend over the past eight years. Cell phones are notoriously forbidden and confiscated. Dancing is practically mandatory! Past events have seen performances from Janelle Monáe, Chance the Rapper, and Prince. … A little girl asked the Obamas if she could come to their big last party, but sadly the Obamas told her it would be a ‘grown up party’ and would go late into the night past her bedtime.”

Sorry, kid, this party is only for “important” people.

As ludicrous as all this is, the height of the Obama-farewell absurdities may have come on Thursday, when Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his own vice president, Joe Biden, for having “faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations.”

Yes, I’m sure the gaffe-machine Biden will “endure through the generations” but definitely not for the reasons Obama suggests.

For those of you who remain believers in the Obama gospel: Does any of this strike you as even the least bit silly? Or selfish? Or, I don’t know, stupid?

For all of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) quirks, I think he might be one of only a few people associated with the Democratic Party who understands, at least partially, why Donald Trump won an election no one in the world thought he should (except Trump himself, of course): The idea the Democratic Party is still the “party of the working man” is so far from reality that it borders on the delusional.

The Democratic Party, at least nationally, is far too focused on kowtowing to Hollywood elites and promoting its various “identity politics” programs to care about working people in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In his final days in office, Obama’s classless and pompous actions have made that reality clearer than ever.

Justin Haskins (jhaskins@heartland.org) is executive editor of The Heartland Institute.

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