The August political doldrums have arrived, Congress is in recess and President Obama, after having already given us six months presidential service, has gone on vacation. What better time to evaluate his job performance, catching the politicians off-guard. If CNN can do it, so can I.
After six months at the helm, has President Obama met his expectations? Has he achieved or set in motion any of his campaign goals? Let’s take a look shall we:
First, I’d like to take this moment to offer my congratulations to the American voting majority who helped set a historical precedent this last presidential election. Through their actions, President Obama became the 21st century’s first intelligent, articulate, and humane U.S. president.
The heartfelt euphoria that erupted in the Santa Fe, New Mexico bars and streets after hearing Obama’s victory announcement was palpable. Everyone grinned and hugged, each person’s smile expressing a joyous collective recognition that a truly significant shift in our country’s direction had just occurred.
Two decades ago, this joyous energy reverberated throughout Berlin during the Berlin Wall dismantling, the iconic symbol that represented Communism’s collapse. Our November U.S. election night symbolized America’s defeat of Fascism or at least a crucial turning point in our social/political tide. On a personal note, I felt strange finding myself on the side of Victory, a rare occurrence since for two decades I’ve advocated honest, courageous yet politically obscure Libertarian, Green and Independent candidates.
However, as in Berlin, the jubilation subsides and everyday life settles back in to its various forms of reality. The Wall Street players may be celebrating a recovery gain this summer but back on Main Street, most Americans are still feeling the pain. Grist to the mill, roll up the sleeves, let’s give an honest review.
A seemingly innocuous achievement happened for Obama one warm July evening. The man looked cool throwing the first pitch at the All-Star Game. Name the last president we had that accomplished coolness: Bushes, forget about it. Clinton tried, Reagan tried, Kennedy probably qualified while Calvin “keepin’ the cool” Coolidge, sporting that colorful Indian chief headdress, was arguably the last to succeed in cool.
Why is this significant? Image is important, in our citizens’ eyes, as well as the worlds and our country’s image has been extremely tarnished by the last administration’s actions so coolness, as well as Obama’s propensity for intelligence, reason, and common decency, has already elevated our country’s stature.
Show respect, you get respect in turn. Recent polls indicating a distinct admiration for President Obama among young Arab and Persian men has to be disastrous for Muslim extremist recruitment. Bush was their best recruitment poster. Just by Obama’s presence, America has gained ground here.
Leave it to our friendly neighbors to the north, Canada, to provide a kind reminder on how people should behave. On a community center billboard in Vancouver, B.C., reads four simple rules for the children at the center to follow:
BE RESPONSIBLE AND RESPECTFUL, PLAY FAIR AND SHARE, SAY ‘NO’ TO ABUSE, and BE POSITIVE AND ENCOURAGING.
A president should set the tone and direction for his country. Former president Bush simply used America as a place for his wealthy business cronies to pillage and plunder. Reviewing recent Obama administration domestic policy changes, I believe he’s following those four simple rules’ philosophy. Here are a few of those policy changes already implemented:
Renewing stem cell research
Renewing the GI Bill benefits for Vets
As part of his economic/education stimulus plan, increased spending for Community Colleges which is central to his job creation strategies, part of a large push to retrain unemployed workers and prepare our US workforce.
Increase infrastructure funding including proposal for high speed rail system.
Increase environmental protections such as protecting Oregon’s old growth forest by repealing Bush-era clear cutting executive orders.
The expansion of the Americorp volunteer youth civil service program, creating new programs focused on strengthening schools, improving health care for low-income communities, boosting energy efficiency and cleaning up parks.
Alternative energy initiatives and greenhouse gas reforms
Tax incentives for new homebuyers to help stimulate housing market and for new car buyers to purchase more fuel efficient cars.
Utilizing the rules “play fair and share” and “say no to abuse” the Obama Administration has implemented the following changes to curb corporate abusive practices:
Helping the average American through the enacted Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act 2009, which implements credit card reforms on credit card companies.
The attempt to close corporate tax loopholes in the Cayman Islands.
Greater FDA rule enforcement on Big Business.
Greater accountability on Wall Street and corporate executive compensation.
I’m not a big government intervention fan, however, these efforts toward rebuilding, retooling, and rethinking a more egalitarian approach to our society, including an overhaul of our corrupt financial systems, are prudent solutions for this country at this time and I commend President Obama for making these efforts; efforts that I have not seen attempted during my adult years by any of our former presidents.
The big issue today is Obama’s healthcare reform bill. Should be easy right. Just eliminate the inflated greedy profits built into our current corrupt system by the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, HMOs and the occasional doctor. Let’s face reality, we have socialized medicine today, whether through VA benefits or medicare. According to the World Health Organization’s latest survey, United States is #1 in total health expenditure per capita yet ranked #37 for overall health system performance. The problem with our American system is the only ones receiving tender loving care are the private corporations that are richly benefiting from our healthcare fiasco.
A pity the conservative political right doesn’t realize they’re being used and conned again by these very same corporations, thanks to their political and corporate media hacks. Stay vigilant Obama and don’t capitulate to the Republican corporate pressures.
I do feel however the corporate bailout he endorsed was wrong, very wrong, rewarding irresponsible behavior. Would the other political candidates have done different? Only Kucinich, Paul and Nader. Could Obama have defied the establishment powers on this issue, if he wanted to. Probably not. Hence, I do feel he is a transitional president in this regard. The definitive “real change” this country needs may not happen under his watch. We’ll have to wait and see.
I’m less encouraged by the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. The strategies for Afghanistan and Iraq are too similar to the Bush’s administration. The Iraq withdrawal timetable has gone slower than Obama originally promised. Both transitional steps, not necessarily the correct steps. Status quo, long range objectives within the halls of the military industrial complex are still being achieved.
My main concern with President Obama is the company he keeps. His Cabinet is inundated with Council on Foreign Relations members, albeit a smarter, possibly kinder, gentler representation than those members in Bush’s cabinet. Could there be a darker agenda hidden underneath the perceived and tangible benevolent intentions? I have to say I’m not clear yet on the answer to this question.
Best to stay vigilant, keep Obama to his word, keep him focus on accomplishing prudent, humane policies for this country’s citizenry, and to maintain a stewardship that guides this country toward (what the heck I’ll say it) a brighter tomorrow. Make those Vancouver community center kids proud!