Sunday, August 14, 2011

Downgraded President

The committee that gave Barack Obama the Novel Peace Price at the start of his presidency must be having second thoughts, even ninth or tenth thoughts. It was clear that the award was made not on past achievements, the usual basis, but rather on the hope that he would earn it. He has not, of course. He has upgraded the war in Afghanistan, pushed further into Pakistan, and now is sending drones to Libya and other countries. He has not proven to be a peacemaker, at least in foreign policy.

World leaders have also pulled back from the joy and relief that the Americans had elected someone who would undo all the mischief of the Bush years, someone who would lead the lone superpower and its allies into a new world of sanity and stability. Instead of stability, the world is awash with economic and political turmoil, much of which can be linked to the unstable American economy. The past month has been especially tumultuous as Congress grappled with the debt ceiling and then was rewarded for its efforts by a credit downgrade by Standard & Poor.

It is against such a backdrop that I found this article from Germany's Stern at Watching America. It's subtitle truly reflects its contents: "The Downgraded President."

...make no mistake, the ex-messiah Obama finds himself in a free fall. He lost his messianic magic a long time ago and has used up all his credit with voters. This past week was disastrous. First the Tea Party hounded him into a bad compromise on the debt battle. At the same time, the unemployment rate (of 9.1 percent) and meager growth prospects nurtured fear of a renewed recession. Then came the slap in the face from S&P, and 30 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan in one fell swoop on Saturday, more than ever before on this mission. Obama’s America seems to be socially divided, politically torn, economically at the abyss and militarily leached. “Yes, we can.” Anything but. Obama is now recording the worst poll ratings of his term in office.

And who is to blame for this misery? The Tea Party freaks? The legacy of the financial crisis? Certainly, all play a little part. Above all, however, it is the president himself. There is a jarring dissonance between Obama’s promises and reality ...

That last sentence quoted should have sounded familiar because it is an allusion to a Maureen Dowd column. Even she gets it right. Obama's promised changes and renewed hope were just campaign talk. Either because he lacks nerve, or imagination, or will, his administration has thus far been a disaster with only a few bright spots to keep some sense of sanity alive.

Now, with elections looming next year, he's begun his campaign for re-election. This weekend he kicked off a bus tour through rural America to talk about jobs. I suppose we should be grateful that he at last recognizes that the economy will not be improved until people get back to work, but I have yet to see any evidence that he is ready to propose a meaningful program to accomplish that.

In other words, he's in campaign mode and this is just more talk.

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Blogger Florence said...

Was that a Freudian slip or did you mean Novel Peace Prize?

Yes, we thought we had elected another FDR but it seems we got Millard Fillmore.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Diane said...


It was an old fashioned typo. However, when I spotted it I laughed, so I decided to keep it.

I believe that makes it a Freudian slip.

3:58 PM  

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