Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Six months into Obama

His study of Lincoln and Roosevelt and Clinton is impeccable, leaving the Republicans in disarray. And because no progress (Professor Lasch frowns from above upon the word) is possible without compromise and unity, he has rebuilt civil society to some extent.

But of course our policy in South Asia has not really changed, and continues to drain our resources without much to be optimistic about. Obama has dealt intelligently with events in Iran that might slowly bring that strategic country back toward its natural alliance with the US. But:

1. The Obama administration has had little effect on the most dangerous aspect of the economic crisis, which is foreclosures.
2. Green initiatives are distant.
3. Healthcare reform is developing quite slowly, and the president has already promised to begin dismantling Medicaid, which is the present system for the poor and disabled.
4. Stimulus funds have no federal guidance as they did under FDR.
5. The financial sector continues to manage its own recovery.
6. Rising petroleum prices threaten recovery.
7. State revenues in freefall are leading to cutbacks that will further cripple the overall economy.
8. World cooperation on economic matters is not very good -- the president does not control this, but can influence it.
9. Key jobs in the administration remain unfilled, delaying progress.
10. The president has deferred several campaign promises, including the overdue elimination of "Don't ask; don't tell," a policy which had already been overtaken by reality the day it was announced.

I could probably think of more, but sometimes the first things that come into the mind are a good index of one's real feelings. President Obama inherited a difficult hand of cards, but thus far has, in my opinion, played too defensively. He risks the possibility that some smart Republican, perhaps Newt Gingrich, will begin capturing the debate on taxation, education, immigration, healthcare, or financial regulation.


David C. said...

And according to RealClearPolitics.com's average of the recent pollsObama's popularity has dipped below 60% for the first time.

Mark Zanger said...

In the intervening two months, some people have begun to count Obama out, on his left, as well as his right. This is to ignore the nature of political cycles. It is quite in order for the president to take all kinds of abuse early in a term -- counterpunching on health care only last week -- because his approval rating right now doesn't matter a great deal. He does not run for re-election for three more years, does not have a Congressional election for another 14 months. In the former instance, he does not run against his poll ratings, but against one of the Republicans.