In the fall of 2008, history was made in the United States of America when the people elected their first black president, running his campaign almost flawlessly for months on the guiding principles of hope and change. With his slogan “yes we can” he captivated the masses who were all too eager to erase the mistake that was his predecessor George W. Bush.
On November 4th with 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173 and to the delight of liberals and progressives everywhere, Barack Hussein Obama was elected. Change had come.
Almost instantly after his inauguration on Jan 20 2009, Obama came out flying. His first act as president was to direct the U.S. military to develop plans to pull out troops from Iraq. He also reduced the secrecy given to presidential records and reversed Bush’s ban on federal funding to foreign establishments that allow abortions. In the next couple of months he also managed to reverse the massively underfunded Bush policy on embryonic stem cell research as well as getting another four million children health insurance. Undoubtedly, he was living up to the hype.
Since that spring of progressive ecstasy, Obama’s approval rating has gone from over 63% to below 45%. What’s even more troubling is that more that 50% of the American public strongly disapprove of the job he’s doing (up from just 20% after his election). Why have the numbers transformed so drastically for the worse in less than a year and a half? What has he done to justify this big swing in voter confidence?
Obama did pass a sweeping health care plan that provides health insurance to tens of millions more people. He did so by making the insurance companies richer (albeit, more accountable) by forcing citizens to buy insurance from those same companies who are still finding ways to not pay out. That’s far short of universal healthcare, his initial goal during his presidential campaign.
Along with his near trillion dollar healthcare bill, Mr. Obama also signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion stimulus package. Many people (mostly republicans) claimed it was too much money of course, but others agreed it was necessary to fend off another great depression. Time will tell.
From the beginning of his presidency, the Republican Party’s words of choice have been “no you can’t” in response to Obama’s now famous motto. Those three words being said by an opposition party would normally have some worth. However, the Democrats hold the presidency and have majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. “No you can’t” shouldn’t have any significance, but Barack Obama and the Democrats are giving it meaningâ€¦ by doing nothing.
The president has not yet repealed “don’t ask don’t tell” to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military. He has not been able to close down the Guantanamo Bay Prison as he pledged to do by the end of 2009. He refused to reverse any aspect of the invasive Patriot Act. There is no change or even talk of change in America’s drug policies. He has also not addressed his country’s immigration problem and has absolutely no real vision when it comes to the environment.
Obama seems to lack the intestinal fortitude it takes to fight for what he wants, whether it’s combating the republicans, his own party, or even the American public, it’s unfortunate to say, but he makes himself look rather weak. One thing (possibly the only thing) that Bush had going for him was that he never hesitated to put up his dukes to get the job done, even if it was done wrong.
I think there are three things that this president has to do to get back on track. The first and most obvious would be for him to grow some balls. I don’t mean to be insulting or rude, but he has to realize that anything worth having doesn’t come without some kind of fight. The battle for healthcare reform took over a year because Obama backed off every time things got a little hot and even though a bill was finally passed, I can’t say the Democrats won.
The second thing Obama must do to avoid the downfall in November and 2012 is to stop worrying about what the public thinks. He seems to be the type of president who takes to heart everything that is said about him in the news or otherwise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but a bunch of crazy tea partiers should not be influencing him to change policy. Besides, no matter how much he tries, he’ll never make Fox News happy.
The final thing the president must do to turn things around is to make me happy instead. To do that he must do what millions in America and the rest of the world want him to do and that’s bring Bush & Cheney up on war crimes charges. Obama might not get re-elected again, but I’d love to see the looks on their faces.