Sep 21 2009
President Obama and his team came into office with high hopes. The first African American President was carrying the hope of a good portion of the nation on his side. Even a good chunk of us in opposition hoped this would be a new beginning.
Sadly, we have watched our young president and his arrogant team fail to get their footing. It started with the faux liberal stimulus bill which has failed to this day to impact the economy (most of the jobs programs it relied on are stuck in the federal bureaucracy and will not show up until next year). It was a clear sign the DC liberals in Congress could roll this president easily.
Many of us hoped we would see a African-American President more in line with the Hollywood characters that we have seen over the years. Where is President Beck (as played by Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact) or why couldn’t we have a bit of a President Huxtable (Bill Cosby of course). There have been many moving portrayals of what an African-American black leader could be like in real life too, just think Colin Powell and Condi Rice, to mention just a few.
Evidently we do not have one right now. Even the liberals in the UK see the problem:
The economy requires his full-time attention. So does health-care reform. And climate change. Indeed, he deserves praise for spending so much time on thankless foreign policy issues. He is tackling all the big problems: restarting Middle East peace talks, defanging Iran and North Korea and a “reset” of relations with Russia. But none of them are working.
I should jump in here and say defending North Korea and Iran is insane on its face, but I did say this chap was on the fringe left.
Regimes in Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran simply pocket his concessions and carry on as before. The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.
Again, have to jump in here and note that defending the indefensible and letting the world’s thugs walk over you is only seen as admirable on the far left, and does lead to Jimmy Carter Syndrome. But here comes the interesting part:
The grizzled veterans of the Democratic leadership in Congress have found Mr Obama and his team of bright young advisers a pushover. That has gravely weakened his flagship domestic campaign, for health-care reform, which fails to address the greatest weakness of the American system: its inflated costs. His free trade credentials are increasingly tarnished too. His latest blunder is imposing tariffs on tyre imports from China, in the hope of gaining a little more union support for health care. But at a time when America’s leadership in global economic matters has never been more vital, that is a dreadful move, hugely undermining its ability to stop other countries engaging in a ruinous spiral of protectionism.
Even good moves are ruined by bad presentation. Changing Mr Bush’s costly and untried missile-defence scheme for something workable was sensible. But offensively casual treatment of east European allies such as Poland made it easy for his critics to portray it as naÃ¯ve appeasement of the regime in Moscow.
I have to admit that scientifically and militarily, the change from an anti-ballistic missile (long range) missile defense system to one that protects against the much more difficult short and medium range missiles is 100% correct. The short to medium range missiles are all over the world and more easy to create than the long range version that span continents. And a long range system cannot stop short and medium range missiles (different problem with less time to react). It is the difference between Patriot missile defenses and the missile shield systems.
It was the right move to change the style of defense system required for Eastern Europe – it was just handled worse than ever could be imagined.
Mr Obama has tactics a plenty – calm and patient engagement with unpleasant regimes, finding common interests, appealing to shared values – but where is the strategy? What, exactly, did “Change you can believe in” â€“ the hallmark slogan of his campaign â€“ actually mean?
The President’s domestic critics who accuse him of being the sinister wielder of a socialist master-plan are wide of the mark. The man who has run nothing more demanding than the Harvard Law Review is beginning to look out of his depth in the world’s top job. His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.
And that is the bottom line here. Between being bullied by the liberals in Congress and bullied on the world stage, this young and inexperienced administration is seen more and more as in over its head, and losing credibility fast.