President Barack Obama at One Year

I won't claim to have a handle or comprehensive understanding on every issue, but I do have somewhat of a grasp on a good portion of the issues. As far as a barometer, since this is the first time I've done this, if I were to have graded George W. Bush each year, he would have received an F eight consecutive years. And I don't mean that sarcastically. He may have received better marks on specific issues (AIDS in Africa), but his overall marks would have totalled eight consecutive Fs.

Now to Barack:

Health Care: He still may get something through, but this has been very close to a failure. It's been his #1 priority for well over six months, he's exhausted the country with the back-and-forth, and he's yet to really show even a sliver of leadership. I mean, we don't know where he stands on the public option? And he went to big pharma and big insurance first? That's the antithesis of change. Grade: C-

Economy: He stabled the Dow, but as Son Volt's lead-singer Jay Farrar sings, "Who the hell is Dow Jones anyway? Society's bones on a cafeteria tray." That's pretty much how I see it. I'm not so much disgusted with the bailouts, but with the lack of stipulations tied to those bailouts. Were there any? Or were these just blind handouts. Sickening. I thought Wall Street disgusted me during the days of Bush? It's even worse during the Obama administration. And he's only helped to inflate that angst. I never thought that we'd see job growth until well into 2010, so no, I didn't expect immediate results, but the path thus far has been sub-par. The stimulus package has had some successes, but as Krugman predicted, it should have been bigger. Barack needs to visit Detroit. Grade: C-

Energy and the Environment: I liked his choice for Energy Secretary, but I've seen nary a mention from Barack on the need for the U.S. to lead on alternative energy. I hoped Obama would make the environment a national priority. He has not. Grade: C

Education: Did Arne Duncan join a pick-up hoops league that's traveling throughout Europe? I don't think I've heard more than a quip out of Barack for the need to massively reform education in this country. Grade: D

Foreign Policy: He helped restore our image around the world, but I think that goodwill is starting to level. He's not damaging us on this front, but the high hopes from the rest of the world are fading. They seem to be thinking, "It's not Bush, but well, it's America." Grade: B

The Wars: No end in sight in Iraq and Obama rarely even mentions this war. As far as Afghanistan goes, as he always seems to do, he took the middle ground. His General wanted 50,000 troops or so, so Barack tosses him 30,000. But what's the mission? Aren't there now more Al Qaeda in Mobile, Alabama than there are in Afghanistan? I agree that the Taliban needs to be destroyed, but is this possible? Grade: C

National Security: I'm not completely up-to-speed on everything here, but I've been fairly pleased with Janet N. Grade: B

Leadership: Not nearly the backbone he showed on the campaign trail, in debates and leading up to his election. He needs to fire Emanuel. Grade: D+

His Team: I'm happy with Biden and fairly happy with Clinton. I think Holder's soft. I like Gates. Surprisingly, I don't detest Geithner, but I think he should be replaced. Sebelius has not been very good at all, nor has Duncan. Emanuel needs to go: his false arrogance doesn't work or sway anyone. Grade: B-

Promises: Remember all those promises? Guantanamo closed within a year? Transparency? Changing Washington? Ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" Ending torture (have we?)? Grade: D

"Change": Obama has arguably been more in bed with Wall Street and big lobbyists than his predecessor. Okay, that can't be possible, but he's certainly spent far too much time appeasing them. If he doesn't change course on this front fast, as in this very second, the democrats are doomed in 2010 and Lou Dobbs will be president in 2012. Grade: D

Overall: It's been a rough first year for President Obama. It still can't be understated the absolute disaster he was handed: two dysfunctional wars, an economy in free fall, a world against us, and eight years of disastrous policies on just about every front. I am one who firmly believes that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be behind bars for the remainder of their lives. All that being said, I didn't expect huge changes in the first 12 months. I knew it would take years and years to get us back on course. However, Obama has proven so frail and indecisive on so many issues that he deserves a lot of the backlash. I didn't care if he passed health care reform in the first year; I just cared that he took some firm positions. On the economy, I wanted him to hold big business and the banks accountable. I wanted him to instruct Holder to go after those who broke major, major laws in the previous administration and again, tortured folks. Such abhorrent activity is contrary to everything this country stands for. I wanted him to at least mention alternative energy. Maybe a few words about our crumbling schools. Hopefully last night's election in Massachusetts will open up his eyes, but something tells me it won't. I think Barack's become so entrenched in the ways of Washington that he may have a tough time climbing out, seeing the realities of what he saw from 2006-2008 and being that man again. But I guess there's still "hope."

Overall Grade: C-


Scott said...

i share a lot of your disappointment about year 1 of President Obama. I would've rated him signif higher based on 2 things: 1. averting complete financial meltdown 2. getting a (deeply flawed) healthcare bill close to the finish line

Campbell said...

After writing this take on his first year, I think I've actually been kind too the president. 1) Yes, he helped to avert a financial meltown, but what pieces happened in between? He stabilized Wall Street and that's it. And the big banks, etc. can now do what they did to destroy the economy all over again. While they get rich, everyone else suffers. 2) He had massive advantages in congress yet put forth a completely watered-down, overly-friendly to pharma/insurance health-care "reform" package. I know reform has never happened, but have the dems ever had such a huge advantage and such a ripe moment to pass massive legislation? No. Obama's failed on health care.

And then today....after Brown wins, Obama says he wants to wait to seat Brown instead of pushing through HCR. I know the democrats are historically soft, but Obama's taking it all to a new level.

Hopefully things pick up for the remaining three.

Bob said...

Here’s a question….What do you think Obama could have accomplished if he chose not to take on the healthcare industry?
Where would we be on the wars, economy, job growth, staggering deficits, environment, foreign policy & domestic security to name a few?

We elected Obama after two years of promising speeches and what we thought was an acknowledgement of the issues the country faced. Our “Hope” netted us a Peace Prize, a cold beer on a hot day, 30K or so more troops with no clear direction, and a few strokes off his golf game. I do commend him for taking on healthcare; this has been attempted for decades with little or no result. He bet his second term and the fate of 19 democratic senators and 250 or so democrats in the house on one issue for the mid term elections.

Politics are impossible to grasp, as a country we cannot reconcile or agree on a damn thing. You should consider lending some of the blame to Axelrod, Emanuel and the staff Obama selected. These men and women have incredible influence over our national agenda yet none are ever elected by the people to the cushy West Wing real estate they control.

Campbell said...

Hi Bob,

Very good points on many fronts. However, I look at the health care situation in two parts. First off, I *initially* praised the president for going after such a massive policy initiative. I thought it showed guts, courage and conviction. And he probably concluded that he could only pass such landmark legislation with the margins he had in congress.

The failure is what happened the moment he got started. He has done an awful job of winning over the public, he hasn't taken firm positions on the main pieces of the legislation and he went to pharma/insurance first. This was supposed to be about change for the American people, not reform in name, but, in essence, gifts to the aformentioned massive groups. And he's shown literally no leadership on health care reform. What president leaves such a HUGE undertaking to a few fellas in congress. This should have been Obama's big sweeping change for the country, and perhaps his legacy. I mean, we remember LBJ for the Voting Rights Act, FDR for Social Security and so on. Obama went for it, but failed miserably from start to whatever ends up being the finish.

Emanuel needs to go. I like Axelrod solely because his demeanor is calm and it feels like I'm in a warm bath when he's talking.