GOP debate December 2015: Sour environment with ignorance, hate and prejudice stalking the land leave this reporter wondering what's next?CNN

The White House: Republican presidential contender Lindsay Graham had some interesting thoughts on his fellow GOP presidential aspirants and their views of this president.

“To those people that believe Obama is a Muslim and was born in Kenya I’ve lost ya a long time ago,” Graham said before continuing, “There’s a dislike for President Obama in my party that’s unhealthy.”

I thought of those words on Tuesday night when I attended the White House Christmas party for media and met Obama on the receiving line.

Seven years into his presidency there is no question Obama bears the scars, the lined face and grey hair is a clear example of that. In contrast Michelle looks absolutely stunning, a beautiful woman aging gracefully.

An official portrait of Michelle and Barack Obama in front of the White House Christmas tree..

An official portrait of Michelle and Barack Obama in front of the White House Christmas tree..

The White House, as usual, sparkled in the moonlight, toy snowmen outside the windows, good cheer and eggnog inside, the president, as always, a gracious if somewhat detached host. The world must trouble him these days.

Seeing him always takes me back to a more hopeful moment for America, the night I stood on 125 Street in Harlem and watched thousands of African Americans celebrate like never before. He had just been elected.

Attending the inauguration I realized what a great country I lived in, one where the full impact of electing an African American president struck me so forcibly. I felt overjoyed to be part of such a country.

Now we have a very different, sour environment with ignorance, hate and prejudice stalking the land especially from Trump and his not so merry Trumpsters.

Where is the optimism of Ronald Reagan, the shining city on the hill the ability to inspire not inflame?

Later that night the Republicans running for president would pound Obama with all their might in the CNN debate, but it smacked of chicken hawk politics. With the exception of Graham none served their country. Trump had “ bone spurs,” yet his doctor proclaimed him one of the fittest men he had ever met.

Trump wants to shred the constitution and kill innocent civilians related to alleged bombers. Cruz wants to carpet bomb — IE pulverise every human being in — Northern Iraq and Syria. Chris Christie, who I expected more from, wants to start World War III with Russia if they invade the no fly zone even by accident.

Cruz also talked about wondering if sand glows at night, a reference to using nuclear missiles in Syria.

And he’s the new front runner for GOP nomination?

He reminds me of General Curtis LeMay who was quite mad but almost succeeded in convincing Jack Kennedy to invade Cuba, thereby setting of a nuclear war. Fortunately Kennedy kept his cool.

Obama knows Shias and Sunnis have been fighting on and off since 632 AD and the prophet Muhammad’s death. All conflicts have to be seen through that prism. Launching another ground troops invasion will not work, as it did not in Iraq.

Instead, Secretary of State John Kerry is slowly putting together the diplomatic jigsaw puzzle that will lead to a focus on ISIS, and ISIS only it is hoped, with Assad and his opponents agreeing to peace talks.

Obama never shirked his duty to get Bin Laden. He was handed a disastrous policy of the economy and Iraq and handled the first with great skill to bring America back from the brink. He covered millions more in health care, he succeeded in neutralizing the Iranian aggression problem, he got the world on board on climate change.

Iraq has continued to be a running sore, but the GOP forgets the American troops were ordered out of the country not by Obama but by Prime Minister Maliki. They should never return.

Leaving I passed a portrait of John F Kennedy and Jackie at the White House at their Christmas party in 1962. Little did they know the dreadful year that awaited them in 1963. I hope America does not experience a similar 2016 as 2015.

“And on earth peace to men of goodwill."

John F Kennedy and Jackie at the White House at their Christmas party in 1962.

John F Kennedy and Jackie at the White House at their Christmas party in 1962.