Your Lying Eyes

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09 June 2011

Obama Was Dealt a Lousy Hand, But Still...

No doubt Obama came into office with a big mess left behind by his predecessor. The glass-half-full take on that would have been that there's only one way to go - up. But that hasn't happened.

The reason seems simple enough - Obama can't fathom what exactly it was that Bush screwed up. On the surface, Obama saw the problems simply enough. We had a dumb war in Iraq, a neglected war in Afghanistan, a financial crisis driven by out-of-control banks, and other unattended to issues like health care and climate change. Now all he, the great unifier, needed to do was get out of Iraq, get more serious about Afghanistan, put in place some financial regulation, pass a health-care bill and some climate-change legislation. Easy as pie - two terms guaranteed.

So what happened? He hasn't been able to discern the fundamental mistakes Bush made, largely because he thinks just like him. While the genesis of the Iraq War may have been as stupid as little George wanting to avenge Daddy's humiliating defeat, its true exegesis is the worship of Democracy and its inevitability for all peoples. While we may be getting nearly all out by the end of this year, our presence there will continue to weigh on us financially for years to come.

And now the same theological battle appears to be bogging us down in Afghanistan permanently and is spreading throughout the Middle East. It could well be that in the heat of the 2012 elections the entire region will be in flames.

Regarding the economy, Obama is even more at sea. The crisis is the result of excessive lending to people who should never have borrowed money to begin with, exacerbated by a sever trade imbalance and high levels of low-skilled immigration. But there's nothing in Obama's playbook to address these. Indeed, he wants to continue to loan even more to unworthy cases. He is continuing the free-trade policies of his predecessors and has no interest in lowering levels of unskilled immigration. His maniacal belief in the magical powers of higher education appears to be spawning an entire generation of debt slaves.

His rather anti-climactic victory in getting  a rather unpromising health-care reform bill passed is a testament to his poor leadership skills. Instead of rousing the public regarding the inequities and inefficiencies in the current system, he engaged in shallow philosophical debates about "end-of-life" care. On climate change, I doubt there's anything any current politician could do to overcome the doubters, but having the likes of Van Jones and Lisa Jackson leading the charge is hardly a way to gain many converts.

Obama still has a good chance at re-election, but he has surely squandered his many opportunities to show Americans he can lead and bring about real improvements.


Anonymous Dano said...

Unfortunately the Republicans have no vialble candidate to even get the anti-incumbent vote. Worse is that the tea party will run a 3rd party candidate that guarantees Obama's reelection.
Next FDR/Lincoln will elected in 2016, because things will have become a crisis and someone will lead us.

Or at least we can hope.

June 10, 2011 4:42 PM  
Blogger FuturePundit said...

I think part of the problem is that Obama (and too many elite others) take for granted continued economic growth. He just assumed growth would resume soon enough for his reelection campaign. So he focused on redistribution - notably via health care legislation.

Unfortunately rapid economic growth isn't going to return any time soon. American policy makers need to come to terms with it. Tax cuts or more education won't bring back rapid growth. Neither party has a solution.

June 18, 2011 11:12 PM  

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