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Friday, January 1, 2010

Obama on His Way to Infamy

Let me give my presidential grade for President Obama's first year. If the next three are as "good" as this one, he'll be challenging Hoover et al for the worst president of all time. He's got plenty of time to turn things around, but let's not kid ourselves. So far, he's been really close to an unmitigated disaster. My dad, who didn't vote for him but generally likes him, constantly harps on his extension of unemployment insurance as an accomplishment. Now, if a supporter makes that your accomplishment, you know you've got problems.

Whether it's domestic policy, foreign policy or political acumen, Obama continues to show that he's simply not up to the job. Most of our worst fears about the president continue to be realized. His complete lack of experience is clearly showing. Clearly, he didn't have a proper vetting process in place. Furthermore, on multiple occasions, the Van Jones affair in particular, he showed a total political tone deafness that's simply stunning.

The biggest folly has to be health care reform. Such sweeping reform usually add to a legacy. Look at Social Security. That's nothing more than a Ponzi Scheme and yet that's a lasting legacy for FDR. This won't be anything like that. That's because even if it does pass it will be so roundly rejected that it will be repealed in no time.

Obama's inexperience has clearly shown on that one. Remember when he urged the legislature to send him a bill by August. What could have possibly put in his mind that such a complicated piece of legislation would be done that quickly. That misstep cost him credibility. Worse yet, he let the Congress craft the bill and didn't control them in the slightest. By the mid summer, the process was an unmitigated disaster and he couldn't contain it. Now, we're at a point where he'll attempt to shove a bill with 30%+ approval down everyone's throat in a totally partisan manner.

On the economy, the president has spent a lot of time talking about health care. The administration promised that unemployment wouldn't cross 8% and now it's 10%. They promised the stimulus would create jobs right away and we're still losing jobs. They promised that spending $787 billion would create jobs and now the Democrats want to spend $150 billion TO CREATE JOBS. He's locked himself into GM, AIG, and Fannie/Freddie and all are a black hole of money and the president has no idea how to extract himself from all of them.

Then, there's GITMO. He proclaimed boldly that it would be closed in a year and then didn't have a plan. Moving the terrorists anywhere in country is deeply unpopular not to mention just plain dumb. Yet, he's now so committed that he's going to do it no matter what. In fact, he's brushed off calls not to transfer the terrorists in light of the attempted attack since several of the planners are former occupants of GITMO. Even worse is his bone headed decision to try these terrorists in country in civilian courts. Whereas a Bush legacy is to once and for all treat terrorists as enemies in war, Obama's may very well be to send us back to treating them as criminals despite the historic failure of that approach.

He has a chance to secure his legacy by pulling out a victory in Afghanistan. I believe Bush went a long way to cementing his with the surge in Iraq. It remains to be seen just how things will go in Afghanistan. I believe he has the right strategy but it's yet unclear if he has the will to win. In his first year, the most troubling aspect of his presidency is his lack of will to fight the terrorists. Without that we won't win in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

His foreign policy is still evolving and it may evolve properly. His Nobel Prize speech was a breathe of fresh air. The president may be ready to get tough with Iran, and he certainly made the difficult choice in Afghanistan. Yet, he sided with the Socialist Zelaya in Honduras. He sat back and said nothing while Democratic forces erupted in protest in Iran and he was a way too buddy, buddy with the thug dictator Hugo Chavez. Embracing America's enemies, not supporting democratic forces, and a lack of will are the worst kinds of legacies.

Then, there's the events of the last seven days. It was nothing short of a disaster. The president said nothing for four days. He refused to leave Hawaii and his DHS Secretary claimed everything went just fine. He wanted to present an air of calm so that panic wouldn't ensue. Instead, he created the perception that he didn't care and chaos ensued. That happened after a failed attack.

So, what's Obama's legacy so far? It's the stimulus. The only effect we know it's had is adding a massive amount of money to our debt and deficit. That's it.

Now, the presidency is a wonderful, challenging, and awesome thing. So, we expect and even demand that the office itself change the occupant. We hope and assume that President Obama will grow into the office as he continues in it. So, the next three years he should evolve and he should improve. Let's not kid ourselves. If the next three are like the first one, he's right next to Herbert Hoover in infamy of the presidency.

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