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My Obama 100 Day Report Card (will likely say more about me than Obama's 100 Days)

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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 04:34 PM
Original message
My Obama 100 Day Report Card (will likely say more about me than Obama's 100 Days)
Edited on Sun Apr-26-09 04:42 PM by Political Heretic
The first 100 Days of the Obama Presidency have been such a relief from the oppressive, criminal regime of the Bush administration that has shamed America and weakened us in the eyes of the world. No one can credibly deny this, and why would they?

But as with any human being, even ones destined for some kind of greatness, the reality of political execution is always, always some mixture of good and bad (where good and bad is defined as, "things you agree with and things you don't agree with." But let's just stop for a moment and reflect on the relief we can feel that we have a president who appears to be committed to following the law.

Here's my grades for the President:

Personal Political Skill: A+
President Obama demonstrates a level of political skill that I have rarely seen. While I may not agree with every decision he makes, his ability to see those decisions through, navigate the political waters, control the media and make them work for him - is exceptional. He repeatedly gets the better of the media and the GOP and has consistently demonstrated over and over again that he is very much in charge. He has also already demonstrated that he has the courage to stand up to his political opponents when they are unwilling to work with him and participate in his political vision. That is as it should be.

Political Appointments: C
A C grade stands for average, as there was (in my opinion) little exceptional in Obama's chosen cabinet. Most specifically, there were so many instances where extremely qualified Democrats with exceptional backgrounds were overlooked in favor of what seem to be "token" Republicans. In nearly every position related to national economic policy, key positions were filled with pro-deregulation, Friedmanites with massive, staggering ties to Wall Street and the nations largest corporations. That's an unnecessary conflict of interest, especially when far better, less conflicted choices existed.

It appears that President Obama, feeling possibly slightly under prepared to tackle such immediate crisis, chose to play it safe and turn to past democratic economic leaders and advisers - despite the fact that their basic vision was the same vision that brought us our current broken system of staggering inequality. The reason political appointments gets a C and not a lower grade it because it remains to be seen how much these appointees carry out Obama's independent will, and how much their will pressures and persuades Obama toward a pro-corporate, anti-worker agenda.

Financial Crisis Management, Part 1: A
President Obama proposed and successfully pushed through congress one of the largest and most dramatic spending bills in history. It included significant amounts of money for numerous social programs from housing to medicaid to tripling federal spending on education over three years. It increased and lengthened unemployment benefits, increased and expanded food stamp coverage and even delivered the largest middle class tax cut in history (dollar per dollar) even though the decrease did not necessarily amount to a dramatic change for most people.

His team shepherded that bill through Congress amidst full opposition from the GOP. It represented a dramatic victory for the White House and a huge win for social welfare agencies providing services and ordinary working Americans needing assistance in these difficult times.

Financial Crisis Management, Part 2: C-
The second phase of the plan for financial crisis management focused on another massive bank and wall street money give away to the tune of around a trillion dollars (estimated.) The pros and cons of this plan have been debated to death. However, I grade Obama a C because even if the plan successfully turns the economy around, it will only bring us back to the same fundamentally flawed, critically broken system of plunder capitalism that brought us this mess in the first place.

At best, the approach is a "punt" - punting the problem "downfield" another number of years at which point we will most definitely deal with the same problems all over again. We have systemic problems with our system of corporate plunder capitalism. And much like the crisis we face with global warming, if we don't take dramatic steps to revolutionize the way we do business, we are simply putting off the ultimate collapse and handing that to our children instead.

Obama and the International Diplomatic Stage: A
No one can argue that President Obama has taken to his role as America's representative on the global stage like a fish takes to water. His skill in diplomatic engagement and his ability to draw world learns to him rather than alienate everyone he comes in contact with (like our previous President) is a vital trait. We need the world's help on a number of issues, including addressing the crisis of climate change and reigning in a global (western) plunder capitalist economy and transforming it into something sustainable and equitable (though it is not clear that the Obama administration has the political will or interest to do the latter.)

Obama and the Federal Budget: A
Obama's blueprint for federal budget guidelines is something that hasn't gotten enough positive attention in either the mainstream media or among the liberal community. Obama's domestic spending priorities outlined in this budget are nothing short of revolutionary, after a thirty year period of complete decline. The Coalition on Human Need strongly supports the priorities outlined by the President, and those priorities have largely made it through both the House and Senate versions of the bill and conference.

The budget framework should be coming to a vote as early as this week. Obama has already singled to obstructionists GOP congress members that he will not hesitate to use the Reconciliation process to pass key domestic legislation connected to the budget. He deserves strong praise for his tough-as-nails approach to getting things he wants done.

Obama and Policy in Iraq and Afghanistan: C
Obama's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan are very much the same as his statements of policy intent given on the campaign trail. In that sense, his policy has only remained true to what he said it would always be. Unfortunately, President Obama was wrong back then, and he is wrong now. Afghanistan will not be transformed into some stable, peaceful government by western force. Threats in Pakistan will not be lessened by the strong arm of raw American might. We need a complete shift in focus to international diplomatic and humanitarian aid in the region, strong American diplomacy and covert, small scale, targeted attacks on high value terrorist targets when justified. Our regular Army troops need to come home and come home now.

We have labored under this notion that if we just stay a little longer we'll get the results we want for far too long. It's not worth the cost of a single additional life to stay. Obama gets a C rather than a lower grade, however, because his outline for Afghanistan policy does reflect a more reasoned and multi-faceted approach. While I disagree with the increase of troops, his emphasis on diplomacy and multilateral cooperation is appreciated.

Obama and Labor: C-
President Obama delivered a major disappointment to working Americans earlier this year, when he went completely silent on the subject of the Employee Free Choice Act after vowing to support it. Perhaps his "support" was always intended to mean merely that he wold sign an EFCA bill if it happened to cross his desk, but not do anything to actively work to make sure such a bill was past. But this was not the definition of "support" organized Labor had in mind.

Without the Presidents commitment to making the passage of EFCA a policy priority, it has died in committee, and the most revolutionary restoration of workers rights to organize and have a voice for themselves died with it. There are few issues more important than the American worker's right to organize, and Obama's choice to go quiet and ignore EFCA once it made it to congress was a tragic failure for us all.

Obama and Civil Rights: C
President Obama made a dramatic statement by signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay torture facility by the end of the year and to end any and all torture practices (and bring the CIA under the code of the Army Field Manual for interrogations.) He recinded the global gad rule, and took other steps to reverse some of the previous administration's assults on civil rights.

Unfortunately, when it comes to national security related matters, the President has largely elected to stick with extreme Bush-era rationales for the most sweeping of privilege claims. The Obama administration has chosen to make identical Bush-era arguments in court to defend Bush-era secrecy practices, and even chosen to appeal court rulings once judges have rendered verdicts against such arguments. This at the same time that the administration is bringing more and more information on the torture and crimes of the past administration into the open presents an unfortunate contradiction in positions that needs to be rectified.

Obama handling of the growing torture scandal: B+
Obama had many early critics of his handling of the torture scandal when people were still desperately afraid that he might not release the memos and now remain afraid that there might not be sufficient accountability for those who broke the law and shamed the United States in front of the world. But the fairest thing one can say about Obama's position on prosecutions is that he has been consistently non-committal on the subject. When his Chief of Staff made declarative statement that no one should be prosecuted on a Sunday news show, the administration issued a clarification negating Emmanuel s' statement.

While Obama said that its important to look forward and not backward, he then stated that it was up to the Department of Justice whether or not to pursue prosecution. In short, Obama has been very careful so far in avoiding unnecessarily partisan fighting about a declared position on prosecutions while the Justice Department hopefully does its job and determines what if any prosecutions or investigations should take place. Despite a lot of fear and angst about what Obama would do on this, he gets an B+ for chosing to do the right things so far, despite some statements that seem inappropriate (we can't "move forward" without upholding the constitution and the rule of law.)

Obama and Campaign Promises: A
According to">Politifact's Tally, Obama has already fulfilled 27 of his campaign promises, made tactical compromises on 7, and has already put 63 others in the works. More importantly, Obama has done very little to clearly and indisputably "break" many campaign promises. There will always be some debate among people (did he break his promise to acknowledge Armenian genocide as President or not?) But overall, Obama has so far be very faithful to what he said he would do on the campaign trail.

Obama and Areas too soon to evaluation: Incomplete
Obama and the Environment: I
Obama and Health Care: I
Obama and Education: I
Obama and Regulatory Reform: I


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waiting for hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. Nice breakdown PH -
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mvd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 09:00 PM
Response to Original message
2. Nice work on the analysis. I made a report card of sorts here:

Do you think it was fair?

I think education is one of his worst areas so far, unfortunately. I am amazed that he nominated Duncan, who sounds like he could be a Bush appointment. On the torture scandal, I would not give him a grade yet. I don't understand how we move forward and at the same time investigate, though. On labor, I like Solis a lot. On EFCA, I'm not sure how much Obama can do. The Democrats who are opposed are actively obstructing in a way, like Bayh and Lincoln. It WOULD be nice to hear some declaration of support. Perhaps there can be a compromise that would be a start. Your thoughts on Iraq and Afghanistan sound like mine. As for the financial crisis management plan, I can see your points. I don't think this will be the end to action, however. At least I hope not.
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 02:44 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. I think its pretty good. Obviously "grades" are all subjective and there's room for movement :)
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 01:23 AM
Response to Original message
3. Regarding Afghanistan, how do you suggest we keep the Taliban from taking Pakistan without troops?
I don't think Obama is under any delusions that Afghanistan is going to be transformed into a stable peaceful government except for maybe Kabul and some surrounding areas. Pakistan and its nukes are the real focus and Obama cannot let the Pakistani government collapse and the Taliban to take over in Pakistan. Of course you are right that Pakistanis are weary of American invasion forces which is why we're doing the invading from the Afghanistan side for the most part. And while economic and humanitarian aid will help, I don't think it will be enough to keep Pakistan's government in power.

If the Taliban gets the nukes then we face a potential nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan not to mention the broader implications for the region that will cause. On the other hand, maybe such a conflict would make the Iranians scurry to the US for protection. Still I think such a scenario would be the end of Obama's presidency.
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 07:19 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. It's time to hand the mantle of responsbility for every global crisis to someone else
Namely, the multilateral international community.
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 04:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
11. I don't think anybody else is willing and able to respond to this type of scenario
Edited on Mon Apr-27-09 04:14 PM by Hippo_Tron
Fact is that after World War II, much of the world decided to free ride off of the US security umbrella and it has stayed that way pretty much ever since. That includes several Middle Eastern countries.

The United States is the world's hegemon both militarily and economically. While this system is far from desirable (at least in my view), it's also not something we can end overnight without drastic consequences.
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. I agree.
I think if we pulled out of Afghanistan/Pakistan tomorrow, you would have Al Qaeda, oops, I meant the Taliban in control of both countries within 12-16 weeks. After that point, one of two things would happen within two years. Either 1. Pak/Afghanistan has a nuclear war with India and half a billion people die (2/3rds of which would be Pakistanis), and/or 2. a suitcase nuke goes off in western europe or the US or Tel Aviv. Obama & the US would be blamed for all of the above because we destabilized the region and then pulled out. We would look weak and irresponsible at the same time.

I guess if one wanted to be Machiavellian to the point of being ghastly, scenario #1 does result in a lot of good paying IT jobs needing to be insourced back into the US. :sarcasm:

Iraq is another story. I wish we were pulling out of there sooner.
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 12:42 PM
Response to Original message
5. Pretty fair assessment.
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 12:58 PM
Response to Original message
6. I'm about there with you, although a couple of your C's
are D's and F's on my card.
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I'm not comfortable (personally) with D's or F's in a first 100 days.
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DevonRex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
9. It says to me that you're pretty fair minded. nt
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Thanks! That tells me I'm at least on the right track...
Fairminded is what I want.
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margotb822 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
12. In this era of "B" as average
it's nice to see someone who remembers that a C is average, not failing.
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Political Heretic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Exactly. Thanks. I think that's really importnt to remember too.
Off-topic from 100 days but yeah.... C is average, not failing. :)
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