The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Monday, April 25, 2011
Economics/Business ... Politics ...

I see that President Obama’s public approval ratings have been down in a funk lately. Admittedly, the big spike in gasoline prices over the past few weeks has a lot to do with it. But the underlying poll figures don’t bode well for Obama; moderates have abandoned him, and far-left liberals are also jumping ship (for who, I couldn’t guess).

As usual, my own opinion goes against the tide. I was extremely critical of President Obama’s performance in his first year. He handed over the stimulus funding package to Nancy Pelosi, and got back just what he deserved (an extremely expensive stimulus that stimulated a lot of traditional Democratic interest groups, but didn’t do too much for the overall economy). Then he pushed through a huge health care overhaul in the face of public mistrust about it. I agree with the overall aims of Obamacare, but I thought he should have integrated some of the legal and market-based cost containment measures supported by GOP interests (which also increase consumer choice and responsibility in approaching health care).

But no, the President stuck with his semi-socialist vision for healthcare in America and rammed it through using brute force. Well, he burned up a lot of public trust and political capital in that exercise, which would have come in handy right about now. Unless the economic GDP growth rate ramps back up above 3% over the next 12 to 18 months, Obama is in for a real struggle in the 2012 election. I get the feeling that the night of Nov. 6 (and possibly the morning hours of Nov. 7) is going to be a real nail-biter.

And yet, over the past year I feel that the President’s performance has improved markedly. If I were asked by the pollsters today, I’d give him a moderate approval. I think he’s gotten much more pragmatic and realistic and he’s less afraid to stray from his more Bolshevik liberal supporters (e.g., in not seeking vengeance against the banks and Wall Street for the 2008 financial crash, and in giving up on the carbon-cap scheme and on labor “card check” legislation). I basically agree with his roadmap for deficit reduction, much better than the Ryan proposal.

About the only recent criticism I have for Obama regards the Libya intervention. I don’t see why the Prez made Moammar Gadhafi his public enemy number one when the “Arab spring” of democratic yearnings reached Bengazi and Tripoli. Just over a year ago, Obama was totally content to sit on the sidelines while a more credible democratic movement formed in Iran and was brutally crushed. As much as I agree with the official rationale for NATO airstrikes (i.e., protecting civilians in rebel areas from vengeance slaughter by Gadhafi forces), I don’t think it’s really doable without taking sides in a fight where we don’t want to take sides.

Libya is more of a civil war between tribes; the young people protesting in the streets with their mobile info devices tuned in on Twitter and Facebook are just a tiny side-show. Yes, I believe that Obama should have given Gadhafi a pass, ugly as that option is. The opposing tribes talk a good line about elections while in front of western reporters and diplomats, but they could turn out to be as ruthlessly dictatorial as the Colonel has been. Remember all the years of factional bloodshed in Iraq that followed the Allied disposal of Saddam Hussein in 2003; you’d think we would have learned our lesson from that.

But otherwise, I’m feeling a lot better about Barack. What’s more, I’ve lost my interest in the conservative thinkers that I was reading last year. They had a lot of sensible things to say about the health care bill and the mis-designed stimulus package. But now they’re railing on and on about how awful we government workers are, about how we are the cause of the big deficit angst and how we need to take a big haircut in pay and benefits or the nation will collapse. As with many political issues, I think there’s about 20% truth and 80% scapegoating in that contention. Also they’re also fond of trashing Obama’s high-speed rail proposals, which in my opinion are sorely needed in order to foster sustainable growth and save our declining cities.

Some of their criticism regarding green technology is still worth reading, but for the most part even the better writers like George Wills and Charles Krauthammer and Victor Davis Hanson have jumped on the GOP anti-Obama bandwagon. Whatever the President does now, they pan it; they obviously just don’t like the guy.

Or perhaps they’re getting back to their default agenda, i.e. to protect the rich and the privileged. They seem to like the “wheel of fortune economy” that has held favor in our nation since Ronald Reagan; i.e., coddle the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class, and in return they open up a few slots every so often for some lucky members of the the hoi polloi to join them. (Hanson is a Roman Empire classicist, and thus the same scheme that made the Caesars popular for 3 or 4 centuries would make sense to him).

Oh well, that’s politics in the land of the big bucks. Obama still ain’t perfect, but his overall vision is a good one, and he seems to be learning. The last thing our nation needed in 2008 was an “on-the-job-trainee” president, but that’s exactly what we got. And as a result we’ve got a real mess on our hands, both economic and political. But our “trainee” has been learning more quickly that I thought possible, and now I’m ready to give him my support for the rest of the ride.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:51 pm      

  1. Jim, Sometimes I think of Obama somewhat like Jimmy Carter. I.e., he’s a really good man, with great intentions, but it’s his “nice guy-ness” that is exactly why he may not be achieving what he would hope to achieve.

    But then again, thinking of an alternative, Donald Trump immediately comes to mind; and I think, oh, I don’t think so. I heard Trump actually say that if he were president, he would “forcibly” take over the oil fields of Libya; after all, we’ve given them a lot of money; they “owe us.” So just go in with the military and “take” the oil fields. Imagine how that would go over with the rest of the world. Then too, Trump himself has gone bankrupt (how many times he’s very vague about). How would he possibly get the nation back on its feet?

    Then too, the Tea Party people tend to drive me up a wall with their constant criticisms but no real, concrete, sensible solutions to anything. By god, they know what they don’t like; but they sure have no clue of what they do like. Where will that get us if one of them becomes president?

    So, for what may be all of Obama’s “faults” as president, I’ll still take him in a heartbeat rather than any one else. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — April 26, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  2. Fantastic Article and Thanks that you shared it to the public. Will definitly arrive back again and check for the updates.

    Comment by bernd schneider — August 27, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

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