Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Obama

I'm a few days late with my 'review' of the first year of the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of others to satiate that small percentage of the population that really cares about such matters. Since I started on my blog way too late in the year, here are some brief thoughts on what I missed:

1) The Nobel Peace Prize was ludicrous, and Obama knew it. Let's face it, he is a sitting, war time president, who said all along that Afghanistan was our just war. I have personally opted to plead ignorance on the entire Afghanistan issue, but I know enough about his campaign to say that I'm not surprised that we are committing more troops to this endeavor.

If it weren't for the hundreds/thousands of people risking their lives for peaceful causes around the world, I could actually accept an argument for him winning. After all, I am, without a doubt, ecstatic about compassionate and intelligent image of America that he is projecting abroad. I truthfully feel that this image, as long as it can be backed up with compassionate and intelligent policies, will benefit our national security more than all the airport scanners and abrams tanks of the world combined. This is his greatest success of the year in my mind, but what long lasting impact it will have is open to much debate.

2) With respect to national security, I must say that I find republican rants against his policies utterly despicable up to this point. Detroit was a potential tragedy that was serendipitously avoided, but was it any different from the shoe bomber incident that happened back in 2001 under the Bush administration? It was a security failure, more specifically, it was a failure of security policy that has been virtually unchanged for several years. This system is apparently in need of revision, and the burden of responsibility to do so should and will fall on the current administration. But the question of what Obama has done differently from the previous administration that would make him somehow culpable is absolutely not clear and shouldn't be marketed as such.

3) Health care has been a complete and utter debacle. But who to blame? He made it a priority issue from the start, and learned the lessons of the Clinton administration about drafting a bill in secrecy. Even though it failed before, I find myself wishing that he had opted for that route rather than leave it to our utterly inept congressional system. I'm not happy with the current bills that are supposedly 'close' to making their way to his desk, and I do feel that he could have exerted much more leadership in order to get a better bill rather than stand in the wings as a cheerleader. As it stands, he placed the burden of drafting his most ambitious policy on the senate and if they fail to do so, it will be his failure. If they succeed, they will take most of the credit. It doesn't seem like a smart play in my mind.

4) I'm terribly unhappy about his lack of concessions towards the LGBTQ community, most notably his failure to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and the preposterous Defense of Marriage Act. Bonus points however for finally extending hate crimes legislation to include sexual orientation. He never was an advocate for gay marriage, so it would be wrong to hold him against that standard but he still has a lot of leeway to make some serious cultural change. As someone whose current position is a living testament to a decades long equal rights struggle, I find myself amazed that he has yet to tread on any firm ground on this issue. History will undoubtedly view him favorably if and when he makes some serious headway towards equal rights legislation, even if constituents in mid-term and even the next presidential election do not. Its worth the battle.

5) He got in over his head with Guantanamo Bay closing, but it was the right thing to do. He shouldn't have set a deadline that he would be unable to meet, but finally making decisions about these people who have been in bureaucratic limbo for years is unquestionably just.

6) Taxing chinese tires, what on earth was he thinking? A pitiful, shameless give away to the special interest unions whose influence is thankfully waning in our country, but clearly not at a quick enough rate. This pointless assault on free trade upsets me perhaps more than anything else this year because there is not a single economically sound reason for it.

7) We were on the brink of financial ruin, and now we're not. Proving which policies were effective and which were give-aways to the financial sector will take some time but at this stage we should all be thankful that some combination of the policies seems to have worked. Upset about deficits? Thank Ronald Reagan.

8) Diplomatic slaps in the face from Iran and North Korea (continuing nuclear proliferation goals and muscle flexing), as well as Israel (not even so much as a blink in their grossly harmful-to-progress settlement constructions) have all been a big disappointment.

I could go on, but I'll stop... for now.

*published on fingerprints.and.snowflakes*


  1. Aside from repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I don't really see Obama doing anything for LGBTQ community until his 2nd term, unfortunately.

  2. Yeah, i mean realistically the Defense of Marriage Act is not changing anytime soon. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a supreme court ruling...