Pete Souza



Failed legacies of Bush and Obama

The former first lady, Laura Bush, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed wrote of the harrowing and long drawn out ordeal of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, who in 1989 was placed under house arrest by the ruling Junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of the NLD party, won a resounding victory in 1990, garnering 59 percent of the vote. She never wavered in her belief that the voices of Burmese are important and should be listened to. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This past week, Aung San Suu Kyi was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal that she was awarded in 2008.

Bush expressed her respect and immense admiration for the courage and bravery displayed by Aung San Suu Kyi and was so inspired Suu Kyi’s plight, that she herself took up in the fight to free Aung San Suu Kyi by drawing greater public awareness to her situation, in the hope that this action would eventually force Burma’s rulers to succumb to international pressure.

While under house arrest, Suu Kyi’s cancer stricken husband was not allowed to visit her and when he eventually died, Suu Kyi was kept from saying her last goodbyes.

Laura Bush seemed genuinely moved by this particular travesty to justice and by all accounts, appeared wrought and emotionally perplexed by the junta’s lack of respect for basic human values – a respect that so many of us Westerner’s have come to take for granted.

Late into his second term, Bush did champion an effort to free Suu Kyi by imposing sanctions on Burma and by placing restrictions on the junta’s access to wealth. President Bush played a significant role in the junta’s decision to release the imprisoned activist. The junta did not release her until two years into President Obama’s first term. To be fair to President Obama, he very willingly took up the fight to have her released.

In the final year of Bush’s presidency, he took up another fight. Illegal immigration has been a thorn in the side of the past four administrations and America’s more than twelve million illegal aliens are still waiting for their voices to be heard. Having once been an illegal alien right here in America myself, I’m all too aware of what it is like to feel alienated and so left out of a system that you want so much to be a part of.

America is my home today and I am immensely proud to call it my home. Every day, right here in New York City, I’m reminded of the influence that immigrants, illegal and legal have had on this city, and it saddens me greatly that there are people right here in the greatest city in the world, who are under the radar and still, these courageous brethren struggle with the hope that one day, someone will listen to them and allow them to partake legally in a system that they too will be proud to call home.

Obama has been a massive and heart wrenching failure when it comes to dealing both effectively and coherently with America’s immigration issue. His message of hope, which four years ago seemed so real and earnest has fizzled and faded to little more than an occasional awkward whimper. Not in the past two decades have the hopes of America’s illegals felt so dashed and so unheard. We are now just mere weeks from election day and it’s imperative that the recovery of America’s economy remain in the spotlight, along with getting our almost twenty-three million unemployed back to work. However, we must also focus on the twelve million Americans who wish that they had a voice in this presidential election.

Not in a very long time in the history of this country, has a presidential election mattered so much for our future and the future of generations to come. America might still be the beacon of hope to a desperate world around us, but America must first be the trusted embodiment of hope to a population who are also Americans at heart. And all that they are looking for is their opportunity to prove it. Let’s bring them in from the cold!