Summary: As we near the end of President Obama’s second year in office, we can total his accomplishments and assess his skills. Potentially a great leader, ruined by election to high office before he gained the necessary experience.
Results to date: alientated his supporters AND enraged his opponents, a feat of political incompetence seldom matched in American history. This demonstrates a novice’s skill, to be expected of someone whose primary skill was campaigning — with experience inadequate for the job (far less than that of our other young president, Kennedy.
Principal policy accomplishment: continuing the work of the Bush Jr. Administration, proving to even the least observent of us that the two parties are only factions of a larger ruling consensus:
- He appointed Bush officials (Secretaries of Transportation, Secretary of the Army, and the most important, Secretary of Defense).
- He expanded our foreign wars (i.e., Afghanistan, Yemen).
- Continued Bush’s bank bailout and stimulus plans (led by the bipartisan tool of Wall Street, Tim Geithner)
- Expanded on a national scale the basic elements of RomneyCare (of the Republican Governor of Massachusetts, largely designed by conservative think-tanks).
- Ignored most of the major legislative objectives of his party: card-check (eliminating secret elections for unions), regulation and taxing of carbon emissions, ending don’t ask-don’t tell policy of the military.
As these problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern. Barack Obama has amazing rhetorical gifts and the potential for greatness, but becomes President with his skills immature, his vision on major questions of public policy unformed, and no executive experience.
His brief career and campaign of empty rhetoric — appealing to the best of America’s history and aspirations — tell us little about the course he will chart for America, or how he will respond to the terrible choices that lie in our future. He provides a frame into which his followers project their dreams — a virtual reality candidate. (Candidates’ white papers, like party platforms, have historically proved poor guides to their actions)
This is our failing, not his. High office in America goes to those with both drive and hunger for fame and power. That Obama goes along with our childlike dreams says much about us, but nothing bad about him. However the election might result in weak leadership for our national government during tough times, unless he grows in office (which would be wonderful, but not something we can rely upon).
By May 2009 the similarities to another failed president were obvious: Carter. Also elected as a prop in the parade of American virtue. See here for details.
About our two party system
Today we get to choose a political party like cattle at the Chicago stockyards get to choose a chute. The cattle (being smarter than us) don’t bother with party identification. They don’t cheer the “left-side” pen, or admire the virtue of its prisoners, the beauty of the fence, the free food. Those in the “right-side” pen don’t wear logos or bumper-stickers, or trumpet their superior intelligence over those in the other pen.
For more information
See the FM reference page about Obama, his administration and policies.
- What do blogs do for America?, 26 February 2008 — As our problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern.
- Is Obama running for the office of Chief Shaman?, 6 June 2008 — Weirdness from our next President.
- Does America need a charismatic President?, 15 July 2008
- More about charisma, by Don Vandergriff…(#2 in the “getting ready for Obama” series), 16 July 2008 — About charisma: know it before you buy it!
- Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008 — At what point does criticism of Obama’s charisma and rhetoric become criticism of leadership itself — and blind faith in technocratic solutions so loved by policy nerds?
- America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?), 14 November 2008
- About Obama’s coronation – wisdom from Fred, 23 January 2009
- What past President does Obama most closely resemble?, 31 May 2009
- Obama knows how to lead America by exploiting our fears, 5 June 2009
- Obama is just like Jack Kennedy!, 13 October 2009
- Stand by for the Obama implosion, 9 December 2009
- The summary: Thoughts about President Obama, 17 December 2009
- More about President Obama, a decoration to the White House for the next 4 years, 18 December 2009
- How Obama failed in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the most common indictments of him are wrong, and overlook his biggest errors., 22 June 2010
- President Obama celebrates 9-11 by renewing his Emergency War Powers, 11 September 2010