Sunday, December 04, 2011

Just Average

If the current slate of articles up at Watching America is any indication, the rest of the world is just as edgy as we are when it comes to the US economy and its role in the world economy. That of course is no surprise. A few articles, however, looked at what this means in terms of US foreign policy, and at least one focused on President Obama's leadership in that regard. He didn't get such a high grade.

At the end of the third year of his presidency, Obama is at best one of those average presidents who govern the White House time and time again. He even ranks among those who were below average, a fact that is reflected in poll results. His poll rankings are bad, so bad that he must fear for his re-election — even though the Republicans until now have only been able to summon up laughingstocks instead of true campaign rivals. ...

It almost appears that Obama, the Democrat, is conducting a form of recessive foreign policy that one would associate with “America-first” Republicans. Presumably, this is not a precept of the Obama administration, but rather one that operates according to the motto: “Let’s see what the next day brings.” This motto fits a president who does not govern very effectively but rather nonchalantly.

Ouch! That's got to leave a mark.

Unfortunately, that's a pretty accurate description of the last three years in terms of both US foreign and domestic policy. I admit that part of the disappointment can be attributed to the high hopes the entire world had for the new president. His campaign speeches spoke to a profound change, and given the disastrous eight years of the Bush administration, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The world even awarded Obama the Nobel Peace Prize before he barely warmed the chair in the Oval Office in anticipation of a brilliant new era in the US. Expectations were high, even though the circumstances he inherited were daunting.

Even given the unrealistic high hopes, however, Obama's leadership, or rather his lack of leadership, has turned out to be disappointing. Instead of profound change, we've gotten more of the same policies, and even worse, an enhancement of those policies. Yes, Obama has had to deal with the obstructionist behavior of the Republicans in Congress, but he has responded to that challenge by simply shrugging his shoulders and giving in.

We're hearing stronger speeches from the White House these days as the election campaign starts heating up. The president is pushing for his jobs bill (too little, too late) and payroll tax reductions (which underfunds Social Security), but the electorate has heard it before, primarily in 2008. Our memories aren't that short. He might win re-election, but if he does it will be because the Republicans can't come up with a viable candidate. Why should they? They've done just fine with close facsimile of one currently occupying the post.

Either/or, it's going to be another long and painful four years at best.

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