Monday, January 11, 2010

#195 Obama's Freshman Year Report Card III

But even as the AfPak casualties keep rising, and the body bags keep de-planing and piling-up at Dover AFB and pulling-down this guy's GPA, there is HOPE for "Change You Can Believe In"--because there already has been. More change than I thought, frankly--as evidenced in the last two posts--much of it obfuscated by front-line issues of War and Health Care. Naturally and perhaps rightly so.

The tangibles that follow depend a lot on the intangibles of Obama's character and personality. He is above all, I think, a congenital scholar/teacher (e.g. at Harvard above). First true intellectual since Clinton. Even though the President came to the wrong decision about Afghanistan, in my opinion, it's gratifying that he took three months THINKING it over. Can this man be at any greater distance from the mindless "decidership" of trigger-happy, former First Cowboy G. Dubya Bush, who notoriously relied solely on rumblings of the gut and the voice of God? No, Obama's primary strength is cool, informed deliberation, first and foremost. I trust the President's mind.

III. "OTHER" 20% of Grade: 3.75 = B+

--Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. A very big deal, and very high marks for the President. Against all sorts of racist and reactionary opposition, Obama got his super-qualified first-choice through the House of Lords. A milestone: first Latina, and only the third woman confirmed to that tottering, all-white-male body. Already the new Executive is making his influence felt on the judicial branch of our government.

--Lesser accomplishments--all indicating positive and progressive change in the way the White House does business--include, among other things,

  • Kicking out the Lobbyists--or at least severely limiting their access;
  • Instructing all federal agencies to adopt policies conducive to openness and transparency, and to pay strict attention to the Freedom of Information Act;
  • Being more open to the public generally--as opposed to the insularity of former administration--with more press conferences, FDR-like radio addresses, Town Halls, etc.;
  • Closing loopholes for off-shore corporate tax-havens and Swiss bank accounts;
  • Easing travel restrictions to Cuba, thereby setting the stage for ending our unjust and self-defeating policies toward this long-suffering (at our hands) country in our back-yard;
  • Celebrating the first ever Seder at the White House, which may seem a small thing, but in reality it is writ large symbolically in terms of the new inclusiveness on the part of the Obama administration--i.e. to recognize the diversity of the American people and to tell the world that the Executive Branch is no longer the eminent domain of the Christian Right.
Then there's the old "E" for Effort. And a double "O" for Obama Optimism. These are quantities not be gainsaid in this time of Anxiety and Need for his fellow Americans. In fact, he comes close to exuding the confidence of a JFK or Clinton, such that he seems fully capable of getting all that needs to be done, done. Early on, even his inner-council reputedly advised him to slow down, to take it one thing at a time. Nope. Life is short, and in Presidential as in First-Doggy-Bo years, even shorter. So he has taken on EVERYTHING at a time. And scoring the highest marks for it.

Unfortunately--to play this game but a moment longer--the overall grade point of this clearly A-plus student is being compromised by the Foreign Policy component, involving more specifically the Middle-East War assignment. He'll remain at the "B-minus" level, alas, as long as he's sunk in its bloody slough ... us along with him.

No comments: