Obama, The Disappointment


His Rhetoric and Actions Are Very Different


By Michael Chester


Yesterday I wrote a column about racism and how it is still alive and is being used against the President. Most people understood what I was trying to say, but several people felt that I was somehow using this as an excuse for his failures or giving him a free pass due to his race.

Neither of these is true. What I was trying to say was that he should be judged for his actions and inactions, not something he has no control over, his color. His family should be considered off-limits. It is not my intent to rehash yesterday’s column in its entirety; it should stand on its own.

Today I want to discuss the great disappointment that many of us who supported him feel. He is certainly gifted with a golden tongue and in his campaign, he raised a lot of pent up hopes and dreams within the American people. For the first time in many years, young people were energized. The promise of change and hope resonated with many. What happened to all of this?

When he came into office, the country was suffering from the worst economic meltdown since the great depression. TARP had been passed during the waning months of the Bush administration with Obama’s support as a senator. Figuratively, a gun was pointed at the heads of congress and people on both sides of the aisle held their noses and voted for TARP. It was truly a bipartisan blunder.

Obama hit the ground walking and proceeded to implement this weird piece of legislation. He appointed the same group that got us into the mess to run Treasury and the Fed. Why he thought that they could now get us out the crisis is unknown; perhaps he got orders from above to not make any big changes.

The economy needed a jump start and he proposed a stimulus package, but did not show the proper leadership to get a really significant stimulus passed. He seemed more interested in making friends on both sides of the aisle than in leading. He had a Democratic majority in both houses of congress and could have used that position to push through a meaningful package, but he did not want to leave out the Republicans, and ended up creating the worst possible bill.

Almost half of the stimulus went to tax cuts that most people were not even aware they were getting. The payroll tax reduction resulted in slightly larger take home pay for the average worker, but the difference was not large enough to change anyone’s spending habits, so the money was essentially wasted. Most of the other half was returned to the states to prevent layoffs of police, fire, and teachers. This actually did make a difference in preventing things from getting much worse, but layoffs that don’t occur do not appear as positive as new hires.

Not enough money was put into the stimulus to really get things moving again. Of course, Congress was in a state of sticker shock at what they had just spent on TARP and was reluctant to appear that it was just throwing more money at problems. The economy remained flat.

Instead of concentrating on the economy, his first major push was for health care legislation. While there are some good provisions in the bill, it is mostly a boost for the large insurance companies. No one seems to be quite sure exactly how the legislation will play out as it became too complex for most people to understand. Obama exhibited a failure to lead during the debate on this legislation, leaving it entirely in the hands of Congress. He should have, at least, presented an outline for what he wanted. He could not even get his own party to agree on the basics. It is very surprising that anything ended up passing.

Early in his administration, he toured the Middle East and seemed to make a connection with the Arabic people. They seemed to like him and we could have used this to forge better relations in the area, but he has attached himself to Israel thus throwing away this opportunity. Support for the “Arab Spring” has been lukewarm, at best, so it is unlikely that the new governments will embrace close relationships with the US.

During the campaign, Obama promised to close Guantanamo, end the war in Iraq, and make a surge in Afghanistan and then get out. He has done none of these things. He inherited the myths of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda from the Bush administration and recently decided to “kill off” Bin Laden. (I have seen overwhelming evidence that Bin Laden has been dead since Dec. 2001 but his legend was kept alive as a justification for continued action in Afghanistan) Many of us were hoping that this “killing” was going to be used as a justification for withdrawal, but this has not happened.

Why he chose to play this card now is still a mystery. If he did not plan to use it to withdraw, why not wait until shortly before the election to make a big splash. It makes no sense, and many of our best Seals were killed to keep the secret. What a colossal waste of human life and military resources.  Presumably, the President was aware of the true facts so this stops being incompetentence and becomes criminal.

For a man who is known for his excellent rhetorical skills, he has done a poor job in defining his administration. He allows the opposition to set the tone and the agenda. He appears to have very little backbone in negotiations, often offering compromises before the opening positions are clearly defined.

Last fall, the Republicans challenged him to a game of chicken over extending parts or all of the Bush tax cuts. He got no compromises whatsoever and ended up accepting the Republican position entirely.  I think he should have called their hand and let all of the cuts expire. Most average people would have seen only a slight increase in their taxes and blame could have been placed on the unwillingness of the Republicans to make any compromises.

He did not think to at least get them to sign off on the debt ceiling as a condition and that turned into this summer’s crisis of the month. This time, the GOP threatened to drive the country into bankruptcy if they did not get spending cuts and Obama ended up giving them more than they initially asked for.

Now we come to the present with the blocking of the Palestinian state being admitted to the UN. Most of the world favors this and we say we want a two state solution, but, again, he sides with Israel and we again look like their lapdog to the world.

How can a President, by his actions, go against every value that he campaigned for? Money? I don’t think so. Yes money talks in Washington and it takes a lot to get elected or re-elected, but if that were the only concern, I think he would forego a second term to get one right. It must be something more, but what? I can only conclude that someone or some group is blackmailing him or threatening his family.

The Huffington Post recently reported that threats have been made against the life of his family if he attempts to prosecute any member of the Bush administration for war crimes, something he certainly should do. Reportedly, the threats come from within the US military, so should he persue this course, there would be no one to protect his family and no place to hide.

Who is controlling the President’s actions? AIPAC? Possibly. Some domestic group? Possibly. Maybe there is a terrorist threat in place against the country and he is cooperating to save our lives. I really don’t know, but whatever it is, it is effective.

This leaves us with a big dilemma. Unless something serious happens soon, he will be the Democratic candidate for re-election. The Republican field is a group of pathetic losers that are not qualified to be dog catchers. As I said yesterday, I believe that this is intentional and they would prefer to lose this time rather than take the blame for what is coming. Ron Paul has been mentioned as a possible option and if he could manage to get the nomination, I think he could give Obama a real run. His positions on the wars and personal freedom issues would pull some disgruntled Democrats to his side, and he might win.

His anti-choice position is in conflict with his libertarian philosophy but it would help with the conservatives, and hurt with the liberals, though many consider this settled law and would be willing to overlook this one issue. The Republican Party will not nominate him, however. He has too much of an independent streak and would not be controlled by the party bosses. An independent President who thinks for himself is the one thing neither party could tolerate.  Our future looks bleak.




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Michael Chester is retired from his career in industrial technology. After graduating from college, he taught this subject until deciding that he preferred doing the job himself more than teaching it. At various times during his career, he has designed, built, installed, and repaired industrial manufacturing machinery. His specialty was in electrical and electronics controls. After retiring, he concentrated more on his hobby of cooking and attended one of the top culinary schools in the US. Mike competed in bass fishing tournaments for several years, but had to leave the sport due to an injury. As a certified barbecue judge he gets to taste some of the best BBQ in the country and help select the winner. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it. He lives with his wife of over 30 years, has 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren.