Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Seven Months In....

Everybody in medialand has decided to take the August recess as an occasion to reflect on how Obama's doing six months into his first term--even though by my count it's closer to seven months, but what do I know?

Obama came into office with a clear mandate: he was the first president since Lyndon Johnson whose party won both the popular vote and control of both Houses of Congress, so you could argue that progressives were entitled to expect sweeping change. Thus their disappointment when Obama assembled economic team that included men who laid the groundwork for the current financial crisis: people behind the deregulation of credit-default swaps, former executives at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

But honestly, to fix the economic crisis you need people who know the situation inside out. And who would know more than the guys who created it?

The administration is even taking heat over the initiative that arguably has done the most good: the stimulus. In good old Keynesian fashion, the government has been priming the economic pump with an injection of money. Take Cash for Clunkers: some whiners are saying that the fuel efficiency requirements for the cars former clunker owners get to buy are so lame that this will do little to combat global warming. Honestly, there's no pleasing some people. Obama will probably get flack on the clean energy provisions in the stimulus: $2.4 billion for battery and electric car projects. So what if 98% of clean energy research proposals are rejected by the administration?

Obama has also been taken to task for the dismissal of gay military personnel--a policy he vowed to change. They're fond of pointing out that a gay officer fluent in Arabic was dismissed from the military and decry this as an appalling waste of skill. Come on, people, it's very unusual for Americans to know foreign languages. This begs the question, how did he know Arabic? This guy has al-Qaeda sleeper agent written all over him.

And then there's the health care reform bill. People are up in arms that Obama has negotiated some shady backroom deals with Big Pharma, and that the bill doesn't provide single-payer health care, which a majority of Americans want.

Will you give the guy a break? It's understandable if he's sometimes out of touch with what Americans want. After all, he is Kenyan.

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