WASHINGTON — I've never written a column like this. Readers rarely believe it, but I am not on any political team. Generosity toward the high and mighty isn't among my few virtues. But this needs to be said: Americans are lucky to have Barack Obama as president and we should wake up and appreciate it while we can.

President Obama will go down in history as an extraordinary president, probably a great one. He will have done this in an era that doesn't aggrandize leaders and presidents, but shrinks them. All presidents have had profound opposition, vicious enemies and colossal failures. A few were beloved and others deeply respected in their day, but none in the modern era and certainly not Obama.

Many presidents fared better in history than in office. But it would be a morale booster and a sign of civic maturity if more Americans appreciated what an exceptional president they have right now. It could be a long wait for the next one.

One can hate Democrats, disagree with Obama on big issues, dislike his style or be disappointed the excitement of his election didn't last. But his accomplishments, ambitious goals, dignity and honesty under tough circumstances demand admiration and appreciation.

This is, of course, perverse liberal-media propaganda to conservative Obama-haters. It's wobbly centrism to a left-flank frustrated Obama hasn't done more for them. 

Changing minds with a keypad is a fool's errand; I'm surely a fool, but not on that count. I simply offer some points for the open-minded to ponder:

• The Iran deal: Time will reveal if the deal worked, not today's talking/tweeting heads. What cannot be in dispute is this was a momentous initiative, a gutsy political risk, a diplomatic success and, potentially, a giant step in defusing a long-ticking time bomb.

• Obamacare: In the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression, Obama delivered one of the most important domestic programs since the New Deal. Obamacare has survived two challenges in the Supreme Court. It's now off life support. Key goals are being met. It will evolve and improve. One day it will be taken for granted.

• The financial meltdown: Obama inherited it, then managed the recovery to the degree possible in the global economy. The recovery has been steady, though slow.

 The first: Becoming the first black president is itself an epic triumph. Obama doesn't get much good will for that any more. We properly canonize Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King. Of Obama, we ask, "What have you done for me lately?" That's fair, he's president. He doesn't ask for credit for being the first black one.

• Dignity and honesty: Obama's administration has been as free of corruption and, well, peccadillo as any in memory. A few will stay in paranoid lather about Benghazi or Fast and Furious, but those pseudo-scandals don't compare to Watergate, Iran-Contra, Bill Clinton's carnal antics or the phony evidence used to justify attacking Iraq.

Obama has weathered a recession, invisible racism, a reckless Republican Congress, a lily-livered Democratic Party, attacks from the richest pressure groups ever (Super PACs) and a 24/7, ADHD press corps under existential pressure to deliver page views and Nielsen ratings. 

Obama isn't a performer like Reagan or a preacher like Clinton. He's head over heart, cool over warm. 

It is harder than ever to see the big canvas and thus find fresh perspectives. We view current events as puny rivers of Tweets, not grand chapters in the ultimate story — history.

In that longer view, we should feel well served. So, Mr. President, on behalf of an ungrateful nation, thank you.

Dick Meyer is chief Washington correspondent for the Scripps Washington Bureau and DecodeDC (www.newsnet5.com/decodedc). Readers may send him email at dick.meyer@scripps.com.

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