Before handing out awards to congratulate President Obama for being the first black president to host an Easter Egg Roll or the first black president to struggle with his teleprompter, let us look at his real accomplishments thus far, good (yes, some) and bad (plenty).
President Barack Obama has endured a mountain of criticism for his cabinet nominees and members. A number (Geithner, Daschle, Sebelius) have been rightly deemed tax cheats and have embarrassed the president and the ones in charge of vetting candidates. Americans generally have a low tolerance for politicians who get away with something that would land normal folks in heap big trouble. The president’s claim of a "new era of responsibility" gets questioned when an unusual number of his nominees have tax troubles, especially when many Americans themselves are struggling, as well as when the president promises “change” by digging up Clinton-era partisan hacks. However, a compliant media has done much to keep the new president rather unscathed.
Upon the assumption of his office, Barack Obama was faced with an economic crisis not of his doing, but of which he took complete ownership. His method of alleviation was ramming through an economic stimulus bill in the same manner and through the same rhetoric of his much-detested predecessor: this emergency is too catastrophic to wait any longer; if we wait any longer, we will be doomed. The bill is too important to read. Pass it or we will all die. Sound anything like the Patriot Act?
After campaigning against 8 years of Republican corruption and proliferate spending, the president embarked on the aforementioned stimulus bill and the pork-laden omnibus bill, bringing the Obama budget soaring somewhere around $4,000,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2010. While the spending done by the Republicans during George W. Bush’s reign was beyond reprehensible and also worth protesting, the monumental debt already created under President Obama sends the message that Bush-era spending was only the beginning.
In the whole financial debacle, the president insisted that spending would get us out of the recession. That assertion assumes that since a lot of spending and bailouts got us into this mess, lots more spending and bailouts will get us out. It is an assertion that many Republicans share when they are in power that no matter how much short-term success it might generate, the value of the dollar continues to plummet and making the another recession inevitable. It is the same old solution only wrapped in a much bigger box.
One of the most defining aspects of the Bush administration was its "Global War on Terrorism," designed to quash tyranny abroad so that liberty in American can be preserved. Actions such as the Patriot Act and the excesses permitted to agencies like the TSA and others have certainly undermined American liberty at home. An incident at Lambert Airport in St. Louis, MO has already been chronicled here before, but another incident in the Southwest suggests that unarmed and unsuspicious Americans are still harassed by their government, even under the supposed civil liberty-minded President Obama (begin video at 8:01, then here, and here).
On the foreign policy front, President Obama promised change but so far has not delivered much. He quickly announced that American troops would be leaving Iraq by August of next year, that is, excepting the 50,000 "residual" forces that are scheduled to remain until at least 2011. However, as news trickles in that Sunni insurgents don’t play nice when the bribe money starts to dry up and civil war resumes, there will be added pressure on the president to keep troops there to pacify the latest uprising and make John McCain’s suggestion that troops stay there for 100 years sound like it came out of Barack Obama’s mouth.
Farther east, as the president promised, Obama has already escalated matters in the increasingly lawless Afghanistan. With poor supply lines, a disintegrating Pakistan quickly succumbing to the Taliban and more Afghans looking to the Taliban for help, American troops will be either relegated to being person bodyguards for President Karzai in Kabul or left to wander in the desert until they get picked off.
Why? There is nothing to be won in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is nowhere to be found. The Taliban is taking over again and the Afghans, notoriously xenophobic, are not resisting local thugs in favor of foreign armies. So the question must be asked again, why does the president want to wander in this graveyard of empires?
The recent and much-publicized Latin American trip drew a lot of attention, particularly from the president's critics on his right. He was called weak for merely sitting and listening to Nicaraguan Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega delivery an anti-American screed. President Obama was denounced for shaking the hand of Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez at the same summit. Rather than turning tables over in disgust over the president’s inclination to grin and bear it, perhaps he was acting like a new head of state should act: quietly. None of these Latin American clowns, who have wrecked their countries almost without exception, pose any threat to the United States. Are we supposed to shoot down any foreign head of state that has the audacity to question the God-given right of the American government to do whatever it wants around the world? The American Conservative columnist Daniel Larison rightly points out that there is nothing to fear from these goons: they thrive (or even survive) based on anti-American rhetoric. The president was right to either let them do their schtick or outright ignore them. It was an episode of calm disposition, something sorely lacking under President Bush.
The president’s dealings with the Somali pirates and hostage situation were swift and effective. The situation was rather quickly defused as the abducted captain was rescued and all of his captors were killed or surrendered. He dealt with stateless warriors in the only way that was manageable and despite calls from all corners to confront the stateless Somalia, (bombing them) he has rightfully deflected all pleas thusfar to enter into another tribal fiasco.
It has only been 100 days, but it looks like things are remaining very much the same. The new regime has only repackaged the same old disasters and called it "change." Some things have been good, as those that have been covered here, but the future is not very bright. Debt soars higher than sky-high and the foreign wars look here to stay, even under a Democratic president. As the old saying goes, people get the government they deserve.