Skip

Obama's Honeymoon Over?
July 22, 2009 6:20 AM   Subscribe

According to the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com, change has stalled. Obama has kept 2 of his top 25 campaign promises so far. But he hasn't closed Guantanamo, restored habeus corpus for "enemy combatatnts", attempted to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, attempted to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, or cracked down on lobbyists. With promises on healthcare in the works, Obama seems to be at a crucial point in his first term.
posted by Hume (171 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, the lack of follow-through has been disappointing. Maybe we should have voted for someone with executive experience.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:23 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first seven months? Why not also blame him for not raising Abraham Lincoln from the dead, that would be about as realistic as these expectations.
posted by oddman at 6:24 AM on July 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


Odd, how silent the media are about the failure to actually, you know, have a plan and the funding to close Gitmo. Maybe it is the fact that simply closing Gitmo is not as simple as it sounds. There are prisoners there, many of whom their native countries don't even want. Of course a more experienced person may have recognized that before making such promises.
posted by Gungho at 6:27 AM on July 22, 2009


I'm getting pretty disappointed in the way he's managing things, and I'm nauseated in advance knowing that it's only a matter of time before I hear, "Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first three and a half years?"
posted by hermitosis at 6:28 AM on July 22, 2009 [21 favorites]


@Oddman. That's an excellent point. I wish I would have included one more sentence in the post, something like:

Paying attention to Obama's campaign promises is important because we need to hold him accountable.

Blame is definitely premature, but let's still keep tabs on him.
posted by Hume at 6:29 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Apparently, change takes time.

(by the way the "@" symbol is for twits, not mefi)
posted by caddis at 6:32 AM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Holding presidents accountable is pre-9/11 thinking.
posted by scrowdid at 6:33 AM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


I could be happier myself, but when I reflect that his opponent's campaign promises were essentially "bomb Iran" and "die of cancer/ancientness and give my job to this total fucking wackaloon right here," I mean, well, shit.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:34 AM on July 22, 2009 [125 favorites]


Obama has kept 2 of his top 25 campaign promises so far.

This is misleading based on the link you provided. 10 are marked as in the works, 10 as no action taken, 1 is marked as a broken promise, 1 stalled, and 1 as comprise.

So, seven months in, he's done work on 15 outta 25 campaign promises and has broken only one so far.

Criticism of Obama is fine, but please try to keep the facts straight rather than doing more handwringing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 AM on July 22, 2009 [48 favorites]


You mean, he's just a puny human and not some kind of man-god? You mean he might need more than 7 months to deliver on promises that were supposed to play out over the course of 4 to 8 years? You mean that the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has put a bit of a cramp in someone's plans? UNHEARD OF.

Jeez louise, are we really such a nation of crying babies? Somebody give us a rattle, stat!
posted by Afroblanco at 6:42 AM on July 22, 2009 [17 favorites]


Insert 'Large ship slow turn' phrase here.
I would insert it myself, if I could just remember how it went
posted by dhruva at 6:44 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I see only one promise broken. I guess it's all in how you look at it.

His goals are incredibly ambitious and I think he is making a good faith effort to achieve them all in a reasonable time frame. Given that he must work within the constraints of his constitutional powers and secure the approval of congress, I think he's doing pretty damn well.
posted by kathrineg at 6:45 AM on July 22, 2009


So, seven months in, he's done work on 15 outta 25 campaign promises and has broken only one so far.

To put it another way, outta 25 campaign promises, he's completed 2, comprised on 1, broken 1 and another 10, based on the link you provided, are about 50-75% done.

Paying attention to Obama's campaign promises is important because we need to hold him accountable.

Yeah, but you're not paying attention and just repeating shit you read on a single website.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 AM on July 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned he did his job by keeping McCain/Palin out of the White House. Mission Accomplished! Anything else is secondary.
posted by JJ86 at 6:49 AM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


When I was 18, I promised my mom I would go to a dentist soon. I did so this past year. I'm 41.

So Obama's still ahead of me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:50 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Previously.
posted by lunit at 6:55 AM on July 22, 2009


Ha, the overview makes a much worse case. 376 with no action. And 7 broken (one per month).
posted by smackfu at 6:57 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


>> ...when I reflect that his opponent's campaign promises were essentially "bomb Iran" and "die of cancer/ancientness and give my job to this total fucking wackaloon right here," I mean, well, shit.

How I long for the day when the general population realizes that there are more than 2 candidates, and both Kodos AND Kang get left out in the cold.
posted by davelog at 6:58 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


It is getting harder to tell oneself that this is just a case of a pragmatic, savvy policy maker who understands that goals need to be prioritized and enacted accordingly, and that he will get around to the other stuff if only we're patient.

Particularly concerning gay rights issues, where he has actually gone out of his way to do things that seem counter-productive to his campaign promises.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:00 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first seven months?"

Yes. They did. And you know that.

Something else you know - Obama supporters actually don't care that he didn't do everything in seven months. They are, unlike Bush/Cheney/Palin supporters smart enough to adjust expectations in a reasonable manner.

Would I like to see all those things in the post done by now? Hell yes, and I was sort of hoping he could pull it off. Am I souring on Obama since it's not done? No, that would be stupid.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:01 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first seven months?

Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first three and a half years?

Totally agree, hermitosis. "People" apparently project whatever attributes they want onto the man. He campaigned on a platform of change (and to be sure, we've seen some positive change), but he cannot, and based on his actions thus far, will not make the changes the left/progressive set expects of him.

by the way the "@" symbol is for twits, not mefi

@caddis: thanks for clearing that up.
posted by Rykey at 7:02 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know why lefties criticize Obama when it's the congress critters that tend to stand in the way of ~change~. I'm guessing a lot of first time voters previously enthusiastic about Obama don't understand how difficult it is to get anything done in Washington with all of those old white men perpetually worried about the next election. The executive branch is powerful but you can only do so much when you're herding cats and all that.
posted by palidor at 7:08 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


While Bush didn't like it, much of what Obama promised requires legislative action. Congress has to put it on his desk. I think that it's worth noting that the three he's wrangling with now (economy, greenhouse gases, health care) are the most complex, probably the most difficult to do, and have the biggest payoff for the nation as a whole.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:09 AM on July 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


How I long for the day when the general population realizes that there are more than 2 candidates, and both Kodos AND Kang get left out in the cold.

Our current electoral system makes this really difficult. I usually see this attributed to individual ignorance (LOL sheeple!!!!) but it's something much more systematic.

The idea that both candidates are pretty much the same because they're both from big corporate parties so who cares anyway? was completely blown out of the water when we experienced the long ride to hell that was the Bush administration, in contrast to the Nobel-prize winning loser Gore.

So it often ends up that we're stuck between a rock and a total fucking disaster. There are third-party candidates. Most people realize that. They're just not willing to make the effort to work for them when they could be working to save the country from another disastrous administration by electing an intelligent centrist.
posted by kathrineg at 7:09 AM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ! What's Obama's problem? You'd think that he was distracted by a major financial crisis, or fighting two wars at once, or something. If he'd only stuck to the schedule dictated by Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com, he could have spent the rest of his term shooting hoops and playing World of Warcraft. I mean, somewhere in America, there's a raid guild that needs a resto pally, right?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Can someone please tell me what he or she would do to stop lobbyists from doing what they seem constitutionally to have the right to do? Just what laws would YOU put in place, and how could these be enforced?
posted by Postroad at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2009


How I long for the day when the general population realizes that there are more than 2 candidates, and both Kodos AND Kang get left out in the cold.

Yeah, last time that happened, we wound up with Bush. No thanks.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:14 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"but he cannot, and based on his actions thus far, will not make the changes the left/progressive set expects of him."

I'm pretty sure the change the "left" expects from him is to not be an evil, imperialistic, above-the-law moron. Just that. We'd be happy with just that.

Republicans have a ton of cratering expectations to cry over. Obama supporters? Not so much.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:14 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


The BO apologists turn out in force!

He's on track to be about as popular as Jimmy Carter according to Gallup.

"Malaise 2.0"?
posted by LakesideOrion at 7:17 AM on July 22, 2009


Can someone please tell me what he or she would do to stop lobbyists from doing what they seem constitutionally to have the right to do?

I think lobby's for citizens are needed, on a federal and state level. It's nice that I can call or write as an individual or join a particular group that's concerned with a specific issue, but really doesn't compare with (insert company here)'s millions.

No, I don't how to get such a group started.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 AM on July 22, 2009


I can't identify anyone who I believe would have done a better job than Obama under these circumstances. He has been handed a huge pile of shit and is attempting to sculpt the Taj Mahal. He will not be entirely successful, and he will certainly do the dubious things that politicians do (because he is a brilliant politician), but there's no-one else who has the combination of intellect, grit and ability to persuade which is necessary to be a effective president at this time.

Also, I'm afraid John McCain's heart would have given out when global capitalism collapsed back in March. Does President Palin have what it takes, or will she press the big red button labeled QUIT?

He's on track to be about as popular as Jimmy Carter according to Gallup.

Interesting that you would pick Carter instead of Reagan. I wonder why.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:23 AM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


If this administration can get a real deal done on actual healthcare reform this calendar year, it will be a fucking miracle. If the hemorrhaging in the job market stops soon, that will also be a fucking miracle.

I too was pissed at the failure to close Guantanamo, but after some research into the matter, I found, as many of you have also found, that is quite a bit more complicated than just putting people on planes to their countries of origin. Still,I do believe that the administration should make Gitmo a priority, because while the closure at this point would be largely symbolic, it is an important symbol of a change in our approach to international affairs.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 AM on July 22, 2009


The question is, did Obama not know it was complicated when he was making blanket promises like this: "The first step to reclaiming America’s standing in the world has to be closing this facility. As president, Barack Obama will close the detention facility at Guantanamo. He will reject the Military Commissions Act, which allowed the U.S. to circumvent Geneva Conventions in the handling of detainees."
posted by smackfu at 7:32 AM on July 22, 2009


Particularly concerning gay rights issues, where he has actually gone out of his way to do things that seem counter-productive to his campaign promises.

I can't say that I'm all that happy with Obama's progress on LGBT matters either, but as others have said, he's six months into his term. Attributing to him some nefarious ulterior motive, or some clandestine anti-gay bias, when there probably is none, other than the inertia of Washington politics, strikes me as counterproductive. Especially when there's an entire Congress of 435 frightened, grandstanding, pusillanimous hypocritical ninnies around to target with ire and frustration. Piling on at this point accomplishes absolutely zilch, as far as I'm concerned.

Things are more complicated than "Obama sux, amirite?"
posted by blucevalo at 7:39 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every time I start to get disillusioned by the glacial pace of legislation, I remember this simple rule: any complex system that involves people, sucks.

Once I get my head wrapped around that idea, political victories that seemed minor and inconsequential take on the air of an Everest story. I am, if nothing, pleasantly surprised that the machine hasn't collapsed in on itself under the weight of its own procedure.

Sure, it seems like it should be easy for a President to say "jump" and the rest of us say "how high?" but that's not the way it was designed, and it certainly isn't possible with the current hydra-headed monster mutation of that de-centralized system. Obama can insist on a lot of things and be shot down for each one, or he can carefully work on whatever key items can be best affected.

Plus, we're not even half way there. Time, patience, and understanding are certainly required even if they are no longer tolerated. Maybe he'll take on social issues next year.
posted by blixco at 7:45 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can someone please tell me what he or she would do to stop lobbyists from doing what they seem constitutionally to have the right to do?

the right to a government job when they want one? - the right to become a lobbyist right after they've left a government job? - the right to keep legally mandated public information off the internet?

that's what's on that list and i fail to see what the constitution says about any of those "rights"
posted by pyramid termite at 7:50 AM on July 22, 2009


And really, if you expect a politician to be accountable for his campaign promises you're going to be mighty frustrated with USA politics. That's not to defend any lack of accountability; hold their feet to the fire and all that, write letters and be vocal, but the only actionable alternative is to be a fickle, impatient voter handing out punishment to all politicians constantly, and that's just not a very pragmatic course of action in my opinion. Basically, I'm not going to vote for Palin in 2012 because Obama was slow on closing Guantanamo, or even because he failed on 90% of his promises. It's usually the 10% that counts. Democracy is a shit sandwich indeed.
posted by palidor at 7:53 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Respectfully, and without intending snark, the responses in this thread point to the core problem with the Democratic party: We are a party that fears doing the right thing. Look at how quickly Dubya was able to enact the sweeping changes he wanted to . . . but Democrats sit shivering in a corner, talking about how DIFFICULT it is to actually enact change and how HARD IT IS to ACTUALLY DO THE RIGHT THING in this political climate &c &c. Such talk leads to paralysis.

Now, I don't want Obama to take the same overriding missteps as Dubya in search of his ideals. But -- and call me an idealist -- doing the right thing means doing the right fucking thing, right here right now. It sickens me to see so many people making excuses for Obama's clear equivocation, when it the reality is absolutely clear to me: Obama is a political creature, the most recent in a long line of political creatures, and he said exactly what he needed to say to mobilize the base and get elected. Now that he's been elected, he is no force for change, no different than any of the others. If he ever gets rid of DADT, I'll be shocked. If he ever makes serious headway on gay marriage, I'll be shocked. Anyone who still expects his to actually hold to his promises at this point is hopeless naive, and 7 months in is most assuredly not too soon.

Let me turn this around: Did ANY of the people in this thread who are saying "Oh, it's too soon to tell," hold back on criticism of Dubya in his first 7 months, saying, "Oh, it's too soon to tell what sort of president he's actually going to be?" I would be willing to bet any amount of money that you had plenty of opinions (correct ones!) about his presidency within the first few months.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:57 AM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first seven months?

he's going to get done what he manages to get done this year and little else - the reason ...

---

it's the congress critters that tend to stand in the way of ~change~.

and a good many of them are up for election next year

i don't think he's proven that he can be forceful enough to overcome this - or at least exact a political cost from those who are opposing him - he's going to have to prove it soon - health care is make or break for him - if he can't get any plan through, he's lost
posted by pyramid termite at 7:58 AM on July 22, 2009


M personal scorecard for Obama is whether he can get GDP growth positive by early 2010 and keep it there for the rest of this term, achieve the healthcare reform objectives he outlined in his latest video address, get a working carbon cap-and-trade system implemented, close Guantanamo and not start any new wars. If he can do all that (and maybe I'm naively optimistic, but right now I think the odds of him achieving all that are above 50%) I think he'll have had indisputably the most marginally successful presidential term of the postwar era .
posted by gsteff at 8:03 AM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, gee, remember when the media was all like, "HOLY SHIT - HE'S DOING TOO MUCH RIGHT NOW!!! SOUND THE ALARMS, RELEASE THE HOUNDS!"

I challenge any Obama Baiters and Haters in this thread to come up with one single thing that George W. Bush did in his first term by this time that is on the same scale as Obama?

Or hey, how about his second?

This man has exponentially more on his plate in the world and in this country than Dubya ever had to deal with when he got in office.

For me personally - here's what I've done because of Barack Obama: 30 hours a week as a public health option advocate at no pay, I've become a community liaison with a local ocean preservation society, created and hosted two local radio shows, and signed up to be a domestic abuse advocate AND an ER intake volunteer.

Say what you want with this inane list of "What He Hasn't Done Yet". But on his worst day, I'm out in my community doing things for other people, and I do it because of his inspiration.

Who else on Metafilter took his "Be The Change" seriously enough to get out there? I want to hear from you.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:08 AM on July 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


And that first pitch in the All Star Game--did you see that?
My hope is gone.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:11 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Now that he's been elected, he is no force for change, no different than any of the others."

Print this out and put it some place you'll be sure to find it 7.5 years from now. Because I'm willing to be this is going to sound pretty stupid by then.

Hell, even now it sounds stupid. Obama is no different than Bush, Palin, MCain? I assume you wouldn't be willing to call his first seven months change unless he'd not only forced all of his agenda through Congress (using a magic wand or something), but also rewritten the Constitution and reformed the government.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:14 AM on July 22, 2009


How I long for the day when the general population realizes that there are more than 2 candidates, and both Kodos AND Kang get left out in the cold.

That's not going to happen until we replace our winner-take-all election system with something else. Good luck with that! (Not that I don't agree with you, but I find the belief that a third party will magically emerge with massive electoral support to be a little naive.) Duverger's Law, anyone?
posted by jonp72 at 8:19 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look at how quickly Dubya was able to enact the sweeping changes he wanted to

This is so true! And all you have to do is ignore the constitution.
posted by oddman at 8:23 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure the change the "left" expects from him is to not be an evil, imperialistic, above-the-law moron. Just that. We'd be happy with just that.

The gap between "just that" and what BO promises/implies is precisely what bothers me about him specifically, and our political system generally. US politics has degenerated to the point that "isn't as fucked up as Reagan/Bush/Cheney/McCain" has become an acceptable substitute for "is an exemplary leader, with the non-elite population's interests at heart."

It is getting harder to tell oneself that this is just a case of a pragmatic, savvy policy maker who understands that goals need to be prioritized and enacted accordingly, and that he will get around to the other stuff if only we're patient.

Exactly.
posted by Rykey at 8:25 AM on July 22, 2009


Not Dubya ≠ good.
posted by kolophon at 8:26 AM on July 22, 2009


I challenge any Obama Baiters and Haters in this thread to come up with one single thing that George W. Bush did in his first term by this time that is on the same scale as Obama?

Bush got his tax cuts passed: June 7, 2001

(Note that Obama has a pledge to reverse those same tax cuts.)
posted by smackfu at 8:31 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


My proposal for lobbyists:

Policitians can receive as much money from anyone they want, but it must be made public, AND if they accept money from a special interest group/organization concerned with a certain issue, they MUST recuse themselves from voting or participating/sponsoring any bill related to that topic due to a conflict of interest.

Received money from a pharmaceutical? You can't participate in any drug-related legislation.
Received money from big oil? No voting on petroleum bills.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:33 AM on July 22, 2009


The two party system may not have served us particularly well but I'd be hard to convince that we'd get better results with systems like they have in many other places; coalition governments with divided powers, elections called at no fixed time triggered by both scandals and success. If you've ever been through a recall with a big field of candidates you know perfectly well that it isn't a better form of democracy; both the process and the outcome is at least as often as not a colossal joke. Some countries are like that all the time. I'm persuaded that it's not the system, it's us.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:34 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


US politics has degenerated to the point that "isn't as fucked up as Reagan/Bush/Cheney/McCain" has become an acceptable substitute for "is an exemplary leader, with the non-elite population's interests at heart."

Oh please.........

Are you seriously going to assert that Obama is a shitty leader who doesn't care about anyone who isn't elite?
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:37 AM on July 22, 2009


Some historical perspective: Harry Truman dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan during his first six months in office. Now - assuming that dropping nuclear bombs on people is a bad thing - his presidency got much better afterwards.

In comparison, George Bush didn't nuke anyone. Neither did anyone else in the history of the world, for that matter.

(Of course, it's not that simple; the Japanese were being nasty imperialists at the time, World War II had been going on for five years, yada yada. But at least he only nuked them twice!)
posted by WalterMitty at 8:37 AM on July 22, 2009


well, I think it's reasonable to say "look, he's still better than the other candidates." and that's true. it's also reasonable to say "look, he's still better than Bush" and that's true, too. He repealed a Bush policy preventing government funding of stem cell research, he provided health insurance to 4 million uninsured children.

So we have reasons to be happy. And good for us, and good for him. These are important to remember, and I for one am glad some of us are remembering that.

On the other hand, we also some not so great things, through blogs like Glenn Greenwald's and other places. We know that the executive office has directly stalled the release of untried prisoners, and is now hemming and hawing about providing them with habeus corpus. We also know that the executive office has been directly involved in continuing to support Bush's domestic surveillance programs. I hesitate to say "Obama has been directly involved..." but at the same time, we're talking about people who work for him, for whose actions he bears ultimate responsibility. I think it's reasonable to see these as problems he isn't fixing, instead of problems he hasn't finished fixing yet.

So we have reasons to be critical, and to hope for (and maybe expect) better. And I for one am glad that people in this thread are conscious of that.

And I think, most significantly, that it's important to remember that being critical of a president is not the same as hating him, or having a lack of respect for him. I believe that we can say with respect that we are owed better when we are. And I believe that a capable presidency can withstand criticism, and could even thrive on it to the betterment of itself and our country. As citizens of this country, imbued with a newfound sense of public accountability thanks (haha) to Bush Jr, we have the right if not the obligation to demand better policies where we need them, even if improvements are being made in other sectors.
posted by shmegegge at 8:38 AM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, this is kind of a stupid way to measure things. I mean, in theory he he's got four years to do all this stuff, right?

On the other hand, there are the situations where he's pro-actively gone out and done the opposite of what he said he would do, like the stuff dealing with prisoners and state secrets. And these are not minor policy issues, either. I mean, there is a big difference between something like that, say including individual mandates in a health plan, which he said he was not going to do but now looks like it will be in the health plan.

The backtracking on DADT is pretty weak too, and politically inexplicable as well given the poll numbers on letting gays in the military. I mean, something like 80% of the population is for it. It's pretty weak, but it certainly isn't something he's actually ruled out, it's just something he's taking a long time on and has kind of abandoned.
posted by delmoi at 8:51 AM on July 22, 2009


Look at how quickly Dubya was able to enact the sweeping changes he wanted to . . . but Democrats sit shivering in a corner...

and

Now, I don't want Obama to take the same overriding missteps as Dubya in search of his ideals.

Are mutually exclusive. Obama's taking longer than Bush would have to do these things because he's not running roughshod over the minority party, not engaging in clandestine and illegal political tactics to wring his opponents to vote favorably for him, and not exceeding the authority of his office.

...the core problem with the Democratic party: We are a party that fears doing the right thing.

How is respecting the congressional procedural rules a moral failing? I get your point, really: this is politics as usual *spit*. But what would you have in it's place? Progressively more radical swings from right to left until the country tears itself apart?
posted by eclectist at 8:53 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Look at how quickly Dubya was able to enact the sweeping changes he wanted to . . . but Democrats sit shivering in a corner, talking about how DIFFICULT it is to actually enact change and how HARD IT IS to ACTUALLY DO THE RIGHT THING in this political climate &c &c. Such talk leads to paralysis.

Nonsense I say to you sir, nonsense!

These comparisons between Bush and Obama are pretty meaningless once you consider what each inherited. Bush got peace, Obama got two wars. Bush got an ok economy, Obama got a mess. Bush a surplus, Obama a major deficit. Anyway you parse it, by any sane measure Obama has it tougher.

But -- and call me an idealist -- doing the right thing means doing the right fucking thing, right here right now.

You're an idealist, god bless you. I've love to see gay marriage made legal and protected on a federal level, but that ain't going to happen, not without a huge political cost. That sucks and I'm sorry it's that way, but that is reality. I have no doubt that he wants to close Gitmo and would love to have done it yesterday, but Congress isn't so keen on that, so it's going to take a while longer. I'd be more upset if he hadn't tried at all, rather than trying, however flawed, and failing due to a fear crazed Congress.

Let me turn this around: Did ANY of the people in this thread who are saying "Oh, it's too soon to tell," hold back on criticism of Dubya in his first 7 months, saying, "Oh, it's too soon to tell what sort of president he's actually going to be?"

Yeah, because they behave and think differently. Bush and most of the political climate at the time was short term thinking, i.e. the tax cuts. Obama has consistently said and signaled that he's thinking long term, so all the fretting seems, IMO, a bit premature. Personally, I'm waiting to see how this year finishes out before making a authoritative declaration about his administration. The Republicans wanted and did ram things through. Obama is taking a more thoughtful approach and shooting for bipartisanship. You can criticize him for working that way, but again, the comparison between Bush and Obama really doesn't match up. They're different men, from different parties, in different times working, wait for it, differently.

None of this should be taken as Obama worship by me. But Bush did make a mess of things and it's not going to be fixed in a rapid fashion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:00 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


The two party system may not have served us particularly well but I'd be hard to convince that we'd get better results with systems like they have in many other places; coalition governments with divided powers, elections called at no fixed time triggered by both scandals and success.

Really? Those governments are usually much more able to effectively govern, and seem to be somewhat less corrupt. How much corruption do you see in Canada, for example? When you do see corruption make the news the stuff they're talking about is orders of magnitude less bad.

I think one of the HUGE problems with this country is that there are just a lot of congressional districts that can't produce, or at least seem to want to vote for very smart people. I mean, many congresspeople are dumb. If you had a system where people just voted for a party, and representatives came from anywhere I think you would get a higher-quality set of legislators.

The other huge difference is the ability to get rid of a prime minister simply because they suck, rather then going through the whole impeachment thing, which is only done if they commit a crime, and increasingly not even then.

Of course, it's all hypothetical. The U.S. is not going to radically changes it's government structure any time soon. But it's pretty obvious that our current system is extreemly corrupt. The fact that you've got democratic congresspeople doing everything they can to prevent Americans from getting quality healthcare in order to protect insurance companies is all kinds of fucked up, for example. Clearly something is wrong here. Lawerence Lessig's Change Congress organization is trying to lessen the influence of lobbyists, so people are trying. The biggest problem is that people don't start paying attention until November and don't vote in primaries.

Giving every incumbent a reasonable primary challenge would have a huge impact on the process, I think.
posted by delmoi at 9:01 AM on July 22, 2009


For me personally - here's what I've done because of Barack Obama: 30 hours a week as a public health option advocate at no pay, I've become a community liaison with a local ocean preservation society, created and hosted two local radio shows, and signed up to be a domestic abuse advocate AND an ER intake volunteer.

not all of us have the luxury of doing whatever we feel like with our time, you know - especially those of us who have jobs that can demand up to 68 hours a week from us

But on his worst day, I'm out in my community doing things for other people

so am i - it's called work - and whatever you're doing for obama, working-class people like me don't appreciate self-righteousness based on your class privilege of having 30 hours a week to do something for no pay
posted by pyramid termite at 9:02 AM on July 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


yr all gullible surrender monkeys. that's all i'm gonna say about it.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:03 AM on July 22, 2009


I have no doubt that he wants to close Gitmo and would love to have done it yesterday, but Congress isn't so keen on that, so it's going to take a while longer. I'd be more upset if he hadn't tried at all, rather than trying, however flawed, and failing due to a fear crazed Congress.

Congress didn't have anything to do with the opening of Gitmo, why do they need to be involved in the closure? I don't think congress could pass veto proof legislation mandating Gitmo stay open.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 AM on July 22, 2009


But -- and call me an idealist -- doing the right thing means doing the right fucking thing, right here right now.

So what, exactly, would you have him do, Mr./Ms. Idealist? What exactly is "the right fucking thing, right here right now"? You say nothing about that. And by that I mean what would you have him do that would not wind up having him and his entire program land on a minefield no matter where he turns?

And no, I did not hold back on criticism of George W. Bush in his first seven months of office, but many of (not all!) the policy choices and decisions that he made in his first six months were much different ones from those this president has made, and part of this president's time has been spent attempting to undo some of those vile choices.

If you want to talk about real, horrifying, brain-melting, gravity-defying, hell-embracing, God-forsaken paralysis, you really need to turn to Capitol Hill and take a long, hard look at Congress. Why are you not fulminating about the choices that THEY have made these past six months, let alone the past eight and a half years?

I would really love to know what those of you who are griping would do if you were in his place and facing exactly the wall of opposition (much of it from within his own party), exactly the competing pressures, exactly the myriad of impossibilities that he faces. I would love Obama to be stronger and tougher than he is seeming to be at the moment.

Then again, I know that I can think of no other person, including the vaunted Hillary Clinton, who would be doing better right now in the same situation. Can any of you think of anyone who would? Ron Paul? Mitt Romney? Mike Huckabee? John McCain? Give me a break.

I believe that we can say with respect that we are owed better when we are.

I would concur with that, absolutely. But there's a difference between saying that and simply throwing one's hands in the air and screaming "Obama's horrible" and having no realistic outlook about the multitude of obstacles that this administration faces.
posted by blucevalo at 9:05 AM on July 22, 2009


"Seriously? People really expected him to do everything in his first seven months?"

Agreed - unrealistic expectations abound. Another sign of the Veruca Salt 'I Want It Now!' culture.
posted by glaucon at 9:06 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I challenge any Obama Baiters and Haters in this thread to come up with one single thing that George W. Bush did in his first term by this time that is on the same scale as Obama?

Or hey, how about his second?


First of all, Obama hasn't actually accomplished that much yet. Other then the stimulus, which was big, but with a smaller price tag then Bush's first round of tax cuts. And of course, Bush started the Iraq war and tore up the constitution and started torturing people and warrentlessly wiretapping. Say what you want about those things, they certainly weren't small

For me personally - here's what I've done because of Barack Obama: 30 hours a week as a public health option advocate at no pay

Bush also inspired a lot of people, particularly to sign up for the military. But a lot of people did like him, especially immediately post 9/11.

But it's also a little narcissistic to judge a president by how his statements inspire you, rather then the actual effect of his policies. Presumably he could inspire people just as well without getting elected.
posted by delmoi at 9:11 AM on July 22, 2009


Have we stopped torturing people yet? I mean, honestly, there's lots of other things I'd like to see done, but not torturing people is really the only one that's a deal-breaker for me.
posted by davejay at 9:12 AM on July 22, 2009


HumePoster: "@Oddman. That's an excellent point. I wish I would have included one more sentence in the post, something like:

Paying attention to Obama's campaign promises is important because we need to hold him accountable.

Blame is definitely premature, but let's still keep tabs on him.
"

I parse that as "We must pay attention and never put our wiener in an electrical socket" meaning, "yeah? and?"
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:12 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you want to talk about real, horrifying, brain-melting, gravity-defying, hell-embracing, God-forsaken paralysis, you really need to turn to Capitol Hill and take a long, hard look at Congress. Why are you not fulminating about the choices that THEY have made these past six months, let alone the past eight and a half years?

Congress is fucking ridiculous. All of those blue dogs need primary campaigns in 2010. Why is no one organizing this? Bleh.
posted by delmoi at 9:13 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me turn this around: Did ANY of the people in this thread who are saying "Oh, it's too soon to tell," hold back on criticism of Dubya in his first 7 months, saying, "Oh, it's too soon to tell what sort of president he's actually going to be?"

I can't tell you the time-line because it was so long ago, but I do distinctly remember giving Bush the benefit of the doubt for the first part of his administration, I don't recall enumerating his failures barely a 1/8th into his first term in office.

As to the larger point, yeah put me down in the fucking chill the hell out category. God damn, people are quick to turn on one another. 6 months into the term in office and people are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Looks like the steady stream of shit from the squawk-box and the opposition has had its intended effect, see the GOP doesn't really care if you like them at this point in time, you just have to dislike Obama. That is all they care about right now, that is what their message is ALL about. We don't have to be pro-"life", pro-christian fundamentalist, anti-tax, pro-war or any of that, we just have to be anti-Obama. Why? because then he is seen as weak and ineffectual. Never-mind that changing health-care, Gitmo and all those things take more that 6 months. If the president is hamstrung then the GOP wins in the long run, at the expense of seeming crazy now. Birthers are part of it too, you, I and everyone we talk to can agree that the birthers are just bat-shit, but it goes on the pile, no GOP senator will ever say the birthers have legitimacy, but every GOP Senator, Representative and operative loves the bither movement. chip, chip, chip. Crazy now, political rebirth later.

So, stand there, bemoan it all, it honestly makes the American electorate look like the political ADD 12 year old I secretly think it is. Politifact.com has bought into the narrative of everything now!
posted by edgeways at 9:18 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I parse that as "We must pay attention and never put our wiener in an electrical socket" meaning, "yeah? and?"

Yeah. I mean, who's not paying attention at this point, including Bill O'Reilly, effing Rush Limbaugh, fat pompous Lou Dobbs, Nancy Grace, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, every godforsaken talking head on earth, about half a legion of screaming placard-waving birthers and abortion-haters and gay-haters and tea-bag-haters, Glenn Greenwald and Alec Baldwin and Arianna Huffington and Joan Rivers and Susie Q on 263 Prune Street in Buttland, Arizona?

I mean, really? Who's NOT paying attention to Obama? The problem may be that we're paying too much attention.
posted by blucevalo at 9:23 AM on July 22, 2009


The BO apologists turn out in force!

He's on track to be about as popular as Jimmy Carter according to Gallup.

"Malaise 2.0"?
posted by LakesideOrion at 7:17 AM on July 22


right with you bro the libtards pretty much run this site but i found if you shoehorn enough catchphrases into your responses you can hold you're own

mad plus++ for getting "BO' in there he stinks you see because hippies don't bathe but also quick protip you gotta call him 0bama because he's a zero his children are sluts you know what i mean damn i wish we had PALIN and JOE THE PLUMBER

you see it's all about values like hard work and getting your shit before some asshole gets youres jimmy carter more like j0bama cart0
posted by Mirror-Universe Optimus Chyme at 9:26 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would concur with that, absolutely. But there's a difference between saying that and simply throwing one's hands in the air and screaming "Obama's horrible" and having no realistic outlook about the multitude of obstacles that this administration faces.

I absolutely agree with this. I'd like to think the linked articles are the former and not the latter, but I haven't read them completely, yet. It can be a difficult line to navigate.
posted by shmegegge at 9:44 AM on July 22, 2009


From TPM today:

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Obama refuses to release visitor logs showing which health care company executives visited the White House.

Late Update: It's an especially painful continuation of Bush policies since candidate Obama promised to let CSPAN in to cover the creation of a health care bill and his campaign website still promises transparency in meetings between White House staff and outside interests.

--David Kurtz


My reasons for dissapointment are real and not insubstantial. This is a direct contradiction of what he told us, and it doesn't need more time or Congressional approval. He could release those logs today.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:47 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


So what, exactly, would you have him do, Mr./Ms. Idealist?

So here's the thing. As many people have pointed out, it would be unrealistic to expect that DADT be repealed just 7 months into Obama's presidency. It would be insane to expect that gay marriage be legal 7 months into his presidency. That's not what I'm objecting to. What I'm objecting to is the fact -- which is exactly what this FPP is about -- that these issues don't even appear to be near the front burner for Obama.

That is, he doesn't appear to be making any of them a priority. These things DO take time; there will definitely be a wait between the time Obama makes them a priority and them coming to pass. And it doesn't look like he's making any of them a priority at all, which means we're gonna be waiting for a long damn time.

Unrelatedly, somebody paid $5 for the Mirror-Universe Optimus Chyme account? Protip: Optimus Chyme can actually spell "yours" and knows the difference between "your" and "you're."
posted by Frobenius Twist at 9:47 AM on July 22, 2009


Let me turn this around: Did ANY of the people in this thread who are saying "Oh, it's too soon to tell," hold back on criticism of Dubya in his first 7 months, saying, "Oh, it's too soon to tell what sort of president he's actually going to be?" I would be willing to bet any amount of money that you had plenty of opinions (correct ones!) about his presidency within the first few months.

This strikes me as a particularly bad example: post-9/11, Bush had an approval rating hovering around 90%. 90%. And, it turns out, all the truly heinous shit he's responsible for was shortly to follow. Y'know: eight months into his presidency. If anyone looked in on Bush on August 11, 2001, they'd have no idea of the massive shit-sandwich that was in store for this country.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2009


Conservatives making smarmy comments about why Obama hasn't accomplished a lot is sort of like me breaking your kneecap with a pipe and then asking why you haven't gone to the kitchen and got me a sandwich.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Unrelatedly, somebody paid $5 for the Mirror-Universe Optimus Chyme account? Protip: Optimus Chyme can actually spell "yours" and knows the difference between "your" and "you're."

wait, OC didn't make that account himself? I had assumed the misspellings were an artifact of the parody.
posted by shmegegge at 9:53 AM on July 22, 2009


Are you seriously going to assert that Obama is a shitty leader who doesn't care about anyone who isn't elite?

Not at all. But he's a politician first and foremost, something that his die-hard apologists seem to forget.
posted by Rykey at 9:53 AM on July 22, 2009


My reasons for dissapointment are real and not insubstantial. This is a direct contradiction of what he told us, and it doesn't need more time or Congressional approval. He could release those logs today.

Actually, they're in the midst of reviewing the policies regarding disclosure and access, so this isn't definitive yet.

However, I don't expect a radical change about this and I don't think it's a big deal in terms of the Obama Administration, thought I reserve the right to change my mind at the end of the year.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:56 AM on July 22, 2009


This strikes me as a particularly bad example: post-9/11, Bush had an approval rating hovering around 90%.

And pre-9/11, all the Democrats were still "election was stolen, Al Gore is the real president".
posted by smackfu at 9:56 AM on July 22, 2009


pre?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:59 AM on July 22, 2009


"Jesus H. Christ! What's Obama's problem? You'd think that he was distracted by a major financial crisis, or fighting two wars at once, or something. If he'd only stuck to the schedule dictated by Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com, he could have spent the rest of his term shooting hoops and playing World of Warcraft. I mean, somewhere in America, there's a raid guild that needs a resto pally, right?"

I voted for him, but as far as I'm concerned, he works for me.

I understand things take time, but I expect him to take his job seriously and show some leadership. He has sort of done that, sort of not, and it's looking more and more like he's prioritizing the process over the results. He's letting Congress take the steam out of some of the momentum. He could suspend DADT right now as we wait for an outcome, and there would be some repercussions, but he's the Commander in Chief, the repercussions are just due to prejudice and aren't a big problem with the younger generations, and this is national security that's at stake. He's hedging because of politics, and he doesn't have to. Clinton did similar moves with what was called "triangulation," and in a way it's just playing the chess game. But sometimes you have to stop playing the game and put your foot down.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:02 AM on July 22, 2009


He's doing plenty, but I, from an armchair politician perspective, think he could progress a little faster by doing the following:

- Realizing that bipartisanship isn't going to work. Republicans committed to delivering him a "Waterloo." He needs to stop extending his hand to dogs that are going to snap at it and then go on about his birth certificate.

- Not thinking that Democrats in congress can collectively act like grownups and do things on their own initiative. Instead of asking them to come up with a healthcare budget, he should have either done it himself, then had Rahm go down there to make them all vote for it, or asked a specific guy in Congress to do it.

I think he's doing a reasonable job on pretty much everything except for transparency, on which he's been extremely disappointing. Still, this is definitely an improvement on what we had and what we could have had.
posted by ignignokt at 10:06 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unrelatedly, somebody paid $5 for the Mirror-Universe Optimus Chyme account?

Which is stupid because the cake in the user-picture doesn't have a goatee, so how can it be from the mirror universe? MORBO DEMANDS AN ANSWER!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:26 AM on July 22, 2009


"he's a politician first and foremost, something that his die-hard apologists seem to forget."

No. They don't. Nice strawman, but they just don't.

Also pragmatic ≠ "die-hard apologists".
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:40 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't it just this week -yesterday?- that he scored a major victory to cut the F-22's from the defense budget? Too bad Obama didn't explicitly promise to do so for this Scorecard.

(Yes, McCain opposed the F-22s as well, but I question as president if he would have been effective in doing so).
posted by yeti at 10:48 AM on July 22, 2009


"Interesting that you would pick Carter instead of Reagan. I wonder why?" -- East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94

Because Carter and Obama are both Democrats? Seemed like a more relevant comparison.
posted by LakesideOrion at 10:49 AM on July 22, 2009


Also....Republicans are pushing the 'OBAMA IS LOSING SUPPORT / HASN'T KEPT PROMISES' siren on full blast right now, so thanks a lot, Politifact, for giving in.

Why are people on the left listening to this? Do people expect to twist Obama's arm by whining about not accomplishing this stuff during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?
posted by glaucon at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't it just this week -yesterday?- that he scored a major victory to cut the F-22's from the defense budget? Too bad Obama didn't explicitly promise to do so for this Scorecard.

Man, this happens to me at work. Kinda makes me want to not do anything that's not scheduled, no matter how it benefits the product.
posted by ignignokt at 10:56 AM on July 22, 2009


Obama recognizes that the single biggest and most difficult item on his agenda is healthcare reform. He recognizes that he has a relatively small window of time in which to get such a massive reorganization of the American economy and political system done. Four years ago, if you'd been told that the next President of the US after Bush would have--just a few months after being elected--have a realistic chance of bringing affordable health insurance to almost every American would you have believed it? Would you have said "yeah, but that just won't matter a damn if he hasn't fixed DADT and hasn't managed to close Guantanomo by that time"?

People get the government they deserve. It's an old saying and all too often a true one. Now, at the time when Obama desperately needs a united voice on the left putting pressure on the fucking "Blue Dog" dems and doing all they can to woo any potentially supportive Republicans to actually make this thing happen what is the left doing? It's usual happy game of "circular firing squad."
posted by yoink at 11:02 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


he's a politician first and foremost, something that his die-hard apologists seem to forget.

Actually, I give thanks every day that Obama is a politician--and a damned good one at that. If he wasn't a politician, he'd be the wrong man for this job which happens to be, you know, in politics.

I get the feeling that some of you would rather have a President who achieved nothing at all as long as he spouted the right slogans all the time.
posted by yoink at 11:05 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


And it doesn't look like he's making any of them a priority at all, which means we're gonna be waiting for a long damn time.

He's letting Congress take the steam out of some of the momentum. He could suspend DADT right now as we wait for an outcome, and there would be some repercussions, but he's the Commander in Chief, the repercussions are just due to prejudice and aren't a big problem with the younger generations, and this is national security that's at stake.

I don't think most people in the United States are going to cry bitter tears if same-sex marriage or Don't Ask Don't Tell, or even the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, are not the Number One or even Number 25 priorities right now as long as the economy is in the toilet and the health care system is on the ropes.

I wish he'd show more leadership on issues that matter to me, yes, absolutely.

My expectation that anything other than a focus on the economy and health care was going to happen within six months of his inauguration? Pretty close to nil.

Add to that the usual cyclonic GOP/Fox News clusterfuck of distraction, inanity and propagandizing, and then add to that a collection of the most spineless, two-faced, short-sighted, bought-and-whored-by-special interests Democrats in Congress that you could ever imagine in your worst nightmares, and my expectation falls even lower than that.
posted by blucevalo at 11:23 AM on July 22, 2009



On Gitmo: Obama wants to close it and is working towards that end.

Had McCain/Palin been elected they would be expanding Gitmo to accommodate those Americans discovered via illegal wiretaps to be terrorist supporting liberal socialists.
posted by notreally at 11:25 AM on July 22, 2009


In an interview on CNBC, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) admits that at least half the opposition to health care reform is about scoring political points against President Obama rather than substantive policy disagreements.

Said Voinovich: "I think it's probably 50/50."


Tell me again what an obstructionist Barack Obama is.
posted by blucevalo at 11:25 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Republicans got their plans through despite Democratic opposition. What does it matter whether it is substantive or for political points?
posted by smackfu at 11:29 AM on July 22, 2009


Yes, and Republicans were 100% united, on all fronts, when they got their plans through, and Democrats were not, and they're still not, and Republicans are 100% united now in scoring political points against Obama, and Democrats are not even close to being united in backing Obama's agenda. Ergo, Obama is stymied from the gate, at least on the big issues that matter.

What does it matter? It matters a whole lot.
posted by blucevalo at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2009


He could suspend DADT right now as we wait for an outcome

He's said on several occasions that Congress needs to repeal the law. That's how it's supposed to work. Congress makes and changes the laws and the Executive Branch enforces them. And a former Constitutional law professor is probably going to follow separation of powers. If executive orders, signing statements, and other ways of bypassing Congress were wrong when Bush used them, wouldn't they be just as wrong even if the goal was something you agree with? When did Obama say this would be a priority?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:54 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If anyone looked in on Bush on August 11, 2001, they'd have no idea of the massive shit-sandwich that was in store for this country.

Jan 17, 2001

A lot of people (myself included) were convinced that The Bush Administration would be one of ineptitude, theft, and a misguided invasion of Iraq before he even accepted his party's noomination. I have blog posts to prove it, although I hold very strongly that there's nothing good that can come from linking to blog posts from 9 years ago. But despite being called all kinds of leftist loonies for saying so back then, the writing was on the wall.

From where I'm standing, it almost always is. Watch "The War Room" and then look at Clinton's presidency in hindsight. I love the guy and think he was a good president (not great, just good). But his shortcomings were obvious from the get go. Same with every other President that I can remember in my lifetime.

I have a friend who I used to watch football with. He always threw a big Super Bowl style party for opening day. His reasoning was that opening day was better than the Super Bowl, because that's the one day every single fan gets to think, "this is the year we go all the way". By week two, it's obvious that 90% of those fans are deluding themselves.

You never know who's going to be great until it's all over, but if someone's going to stink, it's obvious right away. Is Obama gonna be great? It's too early to tell, but he's doing well enough that he still has a shot at it.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This may have already been mentioned in the already incredibly-long list of comments here (only a sampling of which I have read), but please note that the promises at the left of the main link are not the full list of promises in the database. The full list, numbering at somewhere currently at 517 promises, is accessed via the 'Browse the Obameter' links on the right, broken into categories such as 'Broken' and 'Kept Promises.'

Judging progress by only the 'top promises' links on the left does not reflect the full balance of campaign promises -- more link exploration is necessary to manually calculate that, as the site doesn't seem to easily provide an overall ratio of promises kept to stalled to broken. Doing that, the figures I'm coming up with are (grossly):

32 promises kept : 80 promises in the works : 12 promises stalled: 376 promises with no action : 7 promises broken : 517 total promises in their database.

Somebody feel free to check behind me on that. Obviously, not all promises are easily comparable in scope (e.g., No: 502 -- 'Get his daughters a puppy'), so using that figure as an overall scorecard for the presidency is rather questionable. Still -- excellent that this site exists, for both supporters and detractors.
posted by junebug at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"As far as I'm concerned he did his job by keeping McCain/Palin out of the White House. Mission Accomplished! Anything else is secondary."

This is the standard we use against the President of the United States these days? Obama is a great leader because he was voted in, and not the other guy?
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 12:11 PM on July 22, 2009


Considering that the other was McCain/Palin, that's a damn good standard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2009


This is the standard we use against the President of the United States these days? Obama is a great leader because he was voted in, and not the other guy?

Given the physical and mental decrepitude of "the other guy" and and the untold awfulness that would have unfolded if he and his running mate had been voted in, I'd say, "Hell yeah."
posted by blucevalo at 12:18 PM on July 22, 2009


This is the standard we use against the President of the United States these days?

No, that's the standard JJ86 uses. Me, I'm grading on the "buy his daughters a puppy" scale. I am, however, working under the assumption that he's training that puppy to kill terrorists.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:19 PM on July 22, 2009


I can't tell you the time-line because it was so long ago, but I do distinctly remember giving Bush the benefit of the doubt for the first part of his administration, I don't recall enumerating his failures barely a 1/8th into his first term in office.

Half a year in office, lots of people were loudly complaining about the fact that Bush spent about 4 months of that time ON VACATION. Up until 9/11, that would have been one of the chief statements about his presidency: the vacationing president.

For all his flaws, Obama is actually working, and getting things done.
posted by graventy at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Until next month at least.
posted by smackfu at 1:02 PM on July 22, 2009


I hate the whole "pragmatism" excuse proffered by everyone whenever Obama falls short of his promises or whatever. It's a somewhat moronic "We disagree because I'm smart and you're not" kind of argument, or a "We disagree because I'm rational and you're all emotional" kind of thing.

And second it's a catch all for absolutely anything. Telling people, for example, "We gave the banks all this money (i.e. your tax money) because it was the pragmatic thing to do" might work on some people but it's not very compelling if you think about it. It basically boils down to "the banks and their CEOs are too powerful to take on, so we didn't, in staid we just gave them container ships fulls of money rather then spending it on middle class jobs or schools or health care or whatever"

What "pragmatism" actually means - in these cases - is capitulation. But rather then admitting that you're not all that powerful, you simply make weakness into a virtue.

The "it takes time" stuff is also something that sounds reasonable when you don't look at the facts, but it doesn't make sense on some issues because rather then not doing anything to make something better, he's actually making them worse (Like state secrecy, wiretapping, civil rights for accused terrorists and the right to trials, etc)
posted by delmoi at 1:50 PM on July 22, 2009


Comparing past presidents and their accomplishments/failures to a current president is like those imaginary baseball teams, where you assemble players from all eras to play at the same time. An exercise fraught with all kinds of imponderables. The current circumstances are so different from even two years ago - and the further back you go the more so - that such comparisons are pretty much contests of selective evidence picking.

With that caveat in mind, I'll join this ridiculous exercise, cause I can cite selectively too.

Almost everyone agrees that Obama is a brilliant politician, and some even call him the most brilliant we've ever had. I beg to differ. I don't think he's awful at playing politics, but he's mediocre at best. Mind you, I'm talking "politics" as in maneuvering to get things done. Yes, he's better than Carter, but he's worse (IMHO, and insofar as one can tell this early into his career) than a long list of other political pugilists.

Reagan was better at getting what he wanted. So was FDR. And my personal favorite in this department, the magnificent Lyndon Baines Johnson. A greatly underestimated man. What a giant! I don't usually much like books on politicians, but I do read the ones that center on him. It saddens me immensely, that this man is so underappreciated in this country. We seldom talk about him - compared to JFK, or Nixon or even Carter, not to mention Reagan or Clinton. And yet, arguably he accomplished more than any other president of the past 100 years, with the exception of FDR who had infinitely more time to accomplish his goals.

I'm not saying LBJ was without flaws (Vietnam, ugh), but good god, people, do you realize what the man had done domestically? Obama's wildest promises don't come within a mile of LBJ's actual, real life accomplishments. Yes, I understand the country is in a different situation (isn't that always the case?), but I am convinced that Obama won't accomplish in two terms a tenth of what LBJ managed to do in his short time. And the reason is not "that the country is in a different situation" - that's trite. The biggest reason is the contrast between LBJ and Obama. LBJ was a force of nature. He was not only personally charismatic - he was undoubtedly the most skilled player at the internal politics of getting the legislature to do his bidding. This in marked contrast to Obama. Obama is probably intellectually smarter - maybe a lot smarter - than LBJ (who was no scholar) - but LBJ was leagues ahead in street smarts. And in politics, it is the street smarts that win the game - for better (LBJ), or worse (GWB), compared to intellect (Carter).

I am getting the uncomfortable feeling, that Obama is actually not a very good politician - contrary to what almost everyone else thinks. Obama does not seem to be able to control the legislature - which is the hallmark of a good politician. And don't say Congress is uncontrollable - it has always been equally headstrong... but some politicians can tame it, and some can't. It's like with cats - some people just have a way with them, and others don't. The cat remains its catty self - it's about the owner. Yes, Obama has certain political skills - otherwise he'd never win the primaries. But he is not a great politician - I fear. I fervently hope history will prove me wrong - it's still early in the game. But I fear for him, and for the country.

To me, the key contrast is LBJ vs Obama. LBJ was truly a masterful politician. Obama may be a nice guy, a smart guy, a guy with his heart in the right place. But he's no LBJ.
posted by VikingSword at 1:50 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also on some issues Obama is actually getting a lot done. Democrats have been trying to pass Health care to some extent for 50 years, and we are closer now then ever. We also got the stimulus going, we are drawing down from Iraq, etc.

The argument that he hasn't gotten anything done is really incorrect. But what people are complaining about are things where he's getting things done in the wrong direction.
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on July 22, 2009


I am getting the uncomfortable feeling, that Obama is actually not a very good politician - contrary to what almost everyone else thinks. Obama does not seem to be able to control the legislature - which is the hallmark of a good politician.

This is so absurd. People constantly whined about how Obama couldn't control "the message" during the primary and general election, about how "devastating" McCain's "celebrity" ad was, etc. It was all totally absurd and Obama just kept winning elections.

One thing about Obama's style is that he lets things go for a while before reacting. That's what he did during the campaign and that's what he's doing now with Healthcare. You're starting to see him get more actively involved and so on.

While I disagree with some of the stuff he's doing, I think all the kivetching about him being ineffectual is just ridiculous. The fact that he doesn't freak out every 10 minutes like most people in DC is an improvement.
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's not so much that all these things haven't been done; it's what feels like a trend line of capitulation and weakness--largely though not entirely in dealing with Congress.

Debatable as to whether it's for good or for bad, but Obama hasn't shown an ability to keep Congressional Democrats in line. To me, in this case, it's for bad. Reasonable, I think, that a measure of a president's effectiveness is how well he can things done (without them being watered down).

All things considered, or at least Obama and Congress considered, I would rather see Obama getting things done in the Bush/LBJ mold than the way things seem to be going.

There's talk that the national health-care stuff is looking like it will be a lot like what they did in Mass., and there's talk that things in Mass., are not going well.

To look at the width and breadth of fuckedupness with health care, much a sense that fundamental change is required, not that I have much hope.

Was there fundamental change relative to Wall Street, the Finance industry? People a lot smarter than me say, "No; monied interests won."

So why should we be hopeful about health care or much of anything?
posted by ambient2 at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2009


Obama does not seem to be able to control the legislature - which is the hallmark of a good politician.

What, in your view, are the crucial legislative battles that he has lost, so far?
posted by yoink at 2:09 PM on July 22, 2009


Well, delmoi, I hope you are right - I fervently hope you are. Nobody will be happier to be proven wrong than me. I hope - the operative word here - hope, that Obama is a brilliant politician, and it's just part of his brilliant rope-a-dope technique as you claim, and he'll get the legislature to do what he wants, and the fear and gloom will lift and a beautiful sunrise will pierce the darkness. But I'm getting that feeling of "there we go again", and my gut has seldom been wrong. Hopefully, I'm wrong this time, it is still very early. We'll see - all we have to do is wait.
posted by VikingSword at 2:17 PM on July 22, 2009




I hate the whole "pragmatism" excuse proffered by everyone whenever Obama falls short of his promises or whatever. It's a somewhat moronic "We disagree because I'm smart and you're not" kind of argument, or a "We disagree because I'm rational and you're all emotional" kind of thing.

Oh. And your argument is not a version of "We disagree because I'm smart and you're not," from the other side of the coin? If I feel "pragmatism" about Obama and his prospects, I'm making a "moronic" argument?

And my personal favorite in this department, the magnificent Lyndon Baines Johnson. A greatly underestimated man. What a giant!

This is probably more than not a function of Obama's inexperience. He had been in the Senate for 2 years when he declared his candidacy. It takes much time, among other things, to get done what LBJ was able to accomplish. You are neglecting to mention that LBJ had been in the Senate for 12 years, in Congress for almost 12 more, and in the vice-presidency for almost 3 years beyond that when he first became president. He also had a unique charisma and grip over people that would extremely difficult to duplicate in today's political world.

Like it or not, Obama was inexperienced, comparatively speaking, when he was elected, and that line of argument was used against him in the campaign. But you presumably, and I, and others, voted for him anyway, either in spite of that or because of it.

Would John McCain have had any better grip over the reins of Congress? Even with his experience, given his record, and given his reputation, I doubt it.
posted by blucevalo at 2:21 PM on July 22, 2009


Would John McCain have had any better grip over the reins of Congress?

well, chances are the Democrats would have rolled over for anything he wanted.
posted by shmegegge at 2:24 PM on July 22, 2009


If you've ever been through a recall with a big field of candidates you know perfectly well that it isn't a better form of democracy; both the process and the outcome is at least as often as not a colossal joke.

Governor Schwarzeneggar, QED


I mean, many congresspeople are dumb.

This is the core of our problem! At least Obama is trying to get some major things done, for the benefit of actual regular citizens. While much of the criticism from the left is valid, it is much more important right now to heap exposure, criticism and scorn on the truly dumb and/or obstructionist members of Congress. If a member of Congress says anything along the lines of wanting to block healthcare reform because its bad for Obama and good for the Republican party (as many Republicans have, including at the party level as Monday's leaked talking points showed), or because they take shitloads of money from the industry (as many in both parties do) there should be an organized effort from the left to publicize that in the home district of that senator or representative. Same for when they say outrageously wrong, factually incorrect, and/or stupid things. OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THE CONGRESS!!

Now, at the time when Obama desperately needs a united voice on the left putting pressure on the fucking "Blue Dog" dems and doing all they can to woo any potentially supportive Republicans to actually make this thing happen what is the left doing? It's usual happy game of "circular firing squad."

Yes, this too. It's easy to criticize Obama because he's one guy and the executive branch is run by him; to criticize Congress effectively you have to be well-informed and very, very persistent (to be aware of patterns of behavior), and that takes time and effort most armchair critics--and professional journalists, quite frankly--simply are not going to put forth. But reforming Congress, that's where real change could have significant, positive generational impact.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:26 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


yoink, it's not about crucial legislative battles he's lost - the guy is hardly fighting, so it's hard to talk about losing. It's about getting the legislature to do what he needs to be done. Contrast FDR's ability to have the legislature send him bills to sign in his first 100 days to Obama - often bills pretty much dictated by FDR. The contrast is staggering. Obama's tenure - Congress is pretty much running all over the place doing its own thing, with little party discipline, and progress is agonizingly slow and full of backtracking - even on stuff that was passed, like the stimulus.
posted by VikingSword at 2:27 PM on July 22, 2009


well, chances are the Democrats would have rolled over for anything he wanted.

Possibly, possibly not. A party in opposition is a party with a purpose. They would have had "4 more years of Bush" to wail and carry on about and use in their fundraising pleas.

On the other hand, considering how many times they rolled over for Bush and Cheney, I'd have to incline to agree with you.
posted by blucevalo at 2:28 PM on July 22, 2009


TO ANYONE WHO CONSIDERS ME A CLASS ELITIST FOR ANY COMMENTS I MAKE IN THIS THREAD:

I'm unemployed right now. Got laid off six months ago from a job where, actually, I did minimum 40 hours and maximum 60-plus.

I chose to do the work I mentioned upthread while AT THE SAME TIME looking for work. I chose to use my time to benefit the community instead of riding a couch and bitching about being a statistic.

I'm about as far away from a class elitist as you'll find anywhere. I also believe in using my time in the best way possible.

And as far as being considered a narcissist for listing the things I've done because of what the President mentioned in many of his speeches, fuck yeah I'm a narcissist. I'm PROUD of what I do in my community. I sleep better at night for it.

So step back a little if you think I'm all about being some high on a mountain trustafarian with a big heart. I'm a month behind on my rent, make decisions every month about health care vs. full fridge, and so on.

I do this because someone should. Might as well be me.

Either you live your values or someone else makes you live theirs.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2009


This is probably more than not a function of Obama's inexperience. He had been in the Senate for 2 years when he declared his candidacy. It takes much time, among other things, to get done what LBJ was able to accomplish. You are neglecting to mention that LBJ had been in the Senate for 12 years, in Congress for almost 12 more, and in the vice-presidency for almost 3 years beyond that when he first became president.

Unquestionably, 100% correct - LBJ had the immense advantage of having experienced and operated inside the machinery of legislature for a very long time. That's a given. However, the other part is not a given - there are many people who served a very long time in legislature and yet would be no good in trying to control it, and that's what my fear is with Obama. Yes, Obama is inexperienced, but I fear his problems cannot be fixed with experience. He'd be just as ineffective, even if he had LBJ's experience - is my fear/thesis.

He [LBJ] also had a unique charisma and grip over people that would extremely difficult to duplicate in today's political world.

This. This, with a caveat - duplication has nothing to do "with today's political world". It is who you are. Your ability to influence people is partially inborn and partially learned. Some are stars at it - LBJ was the Magic Johnson of politics in this regard (oh, what a font of cheap puns I am), his personal talents in this department were so phenomenal that he was able to accomplish monumental things. This, you don't entirely learn - some stuff you need to be born with, at least the predisposition and the potential. I think LBJ had it. I fear Obama does not.

Like it or not, Obama was inexperienced, comparatively speaking, when he was elected, and that line of argument was used against him in the campaign. But you presumably, and I, and others, voted for him anyway, either in spite of that or because of it.

Would John McCain have had any better grip over the reins of Congress? Even with his experience, given his record, and given his reputation, I doubt it.


Please, this is a derail. Of course, I voted for Obama. But McCain's horrific failures do not make Obama a political genius.
posted by VikingSword at 2:37 PM on July 22, 2009


He'd be just as ineffective, even if he had LBJ's experience - is my fear/thesis.

You may well be right. I don't necessarily disagree.

It is who you are.

It's not just who you are. The political world in Washington is completely different in 2009 than it was in 1964. LBJ would have encountered many of the same obstacles that Obama faces if he were president now, and his personal talents and star quality would not have cleared those problems out of the way. They might have even been an impediment.

Please, this is a derail.

I don't think so, at least not any more so than your bringing up Lyndon Johnson and a long-vanished political era at every turn. And nowhere have I said that Obama is a "political genius" -- in fact I've implied just the opposite.
posted by blucevalo at 2:47 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyhow, I'm not throwing in the towel on Obama. I do think it's too early to make definitive pronouncements. What (speaking for myself) I'm expressing here is more along the lines of "worry" - perhaps neurotic worry. Almost therapeutic - if I express my fears, maybe they won't come true. I remain hopeful. It's just that watching Obama, recently I started to worry a little.

Again - way too early, to be drawing up obituaries. There's a slight, ever so slight chill in the air, but that's about all.
posted by VikingSword at 2:50 PM on July 22, 2009


It's not just who you are. The political world in Washington is completely different in 2009 than it was in 1964. LBJ would have encountered many of the same obstacles that Obama faces if he were president now, and his personal talents and star quality would not have cleared those problems out of the way. They might have even been an impediment.

Look, I acknowledged that looking to the past and comparing presidents is always an iffy game, so that goes with the territory, as long as you do such a thing at all - which many people are doing, comparing Obama to presidents past.

However, I do think you glide over things too easily, and you underestimate the ability of a skilled president to get his will through - including today's climate. This whole "today is especially difficult" is an optical illusion - every era they said the same thing... that's because we know more about today than we remember about yesterday, and so the problems seem more insurmountable... because they haven't been solved yet; meanwhile, huge problems from the past, that were solved, seem petty, precisely because "they solved them, so it couldn't have been so tough". This is an understandable myopia, but we should be better men than to fall for it. Point being - every era has its unique configuration and problems - but great presidents can solve those problems, and not so great can't. LBJ was a great president. I remain hopeful, but worried about Obama (and yes, it's too early).

A more salient point about "it's not just who you are", is that LBJ had one crucial advantage Obama doesn't have - he formed very strong relationships over the years with key legislators, and knew the personalities very well. Obama just doesn't have the mileage to have gotten into that position. These relationships and this knowledge were key to LBJ's success - in addition to the man's immense talent and charisma.
posted by VikingSword at 2:59 PM on July 22, 2009


yoink, it's not about crucial legislative battles he's lost - the guy is hardly fighting, so it's hard to talk about losing. It's about getting the legislature to do what he needs to be done.

So, and please be specific, what is it that Obama has failed to do that--had he done it--would have brought the legislature into line?

I mean, so far your entire prescription is "be magnetic like LBJ." We know an awful lot about the canny backroom moves and deals LBJ made to get his legislative agenda through--but of course we didn't know any of that then; that's all come to light since with the publication of diaries, transcripts of recorded conversations etc. etc. etc. (and, of course, then as now the left was pissing and moaning the ENTIRE time about what a dreadful, evil and incompetent President LBJ was; was there, in fact, a more hated man in America for the American left than LBJ?).

But you seem quite sure that there are things Obama is screwing up that could and should have been done differently. Care to say what they are?
posted by yoink at 3:06 PM on July 22, 2009


Yeah, and I have yet to receive my magical puppy that poops rainbows.

My mother, however, is receiving disability payments that are sufficient for her to live on directly as a result of new policies put into effect by Obama. Under the Bush administration, she didn't even qualify for social security disability, despite being totally unable to work due to an on the job injury. So, hey. There's something. The Obama administration has actively improved the life of someone I know personally, so I have to say that thus far, I am a fan.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:23 PM on July 22, 2009


yoink, taking the 100 days - an imperfect metric, to be sure:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal

From the link, this quote addresses my point about control of legislature:

"Having won a victory in the United States presidential election of 1932, and with his party having decisively swept Congressional elections across the nation, Roosevelt entered office with unprecedented[citation needed] political capital. Americans of all political persuasions were demanding immediate action, and Roosevelt responded with a remarkable series of new programs in the “first hundred days” of the administration, in which he met with Congress for 100 days. During those 100 days of lawmaking, Congress granted every request Roosevelt asked."

I see great parallels between the two situations - allowing for the fact that they cannot be identical, as they happened in different eras (duh). If comparisons can be made at all, then it strikes me that no president since FDR had as close a situation to what Obama had in wake of his election. Then as now, the nation across all classes thought we were on the wrong track with GWB (by huge margins, according to polls), Obama won on a mandate of immediate CHANGE. We faced the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression - as is commonly acknowledged among economists. Obama is riding on a majority legislature, a high personal popularity, a mandate for change and political capital and a thoroughly discredited opposition (Hoover and GWB respectively).

This is what FDR did: "Roosevelt responded with a remarkable series of new programs in the “first hundred days” of the administration, in which he met with Congress for 100 days. During those 100 days of lawmaking, Congress granted every request Roosevelt asked."

What did Obama do with all that capital, and how did Congress behave?

What more need be said?

If Obama's will is not the issue - then what is? Congress does not cooperate? I say, it's the responsibility of the president to compel them by a vision so compelling or by hook or by crook (FDR or LBJ), to do your will. Has he? Clearly, he has not. And to blame Congress is weak sauce. Congress has always been headstrong. It's the president's job to lead.

Now, I am unwilling to condemn Obama as ineffectual 7 months in. BUT I am worried - because it is possible to do a lot in 100 days, and by the watermarks already established, Obama is not exactly establishing any higher ones.
posted by VikingSword at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2009




A good article on LBJ's 100 days.

A few points:

""Throughout his presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson consistently measured his record against that of his political hero, FDR," writes Cambridge University historian Anthony Badger in FDR: The First Hundred Days. "In April 1965 he pressed his congressional liaison man, Larry O'Brien, to 'jerk out every damn little bill you can and get them down here by the 12th' because 'on the 12th you'll have the best Hundred Days. Better than he [FDR] did!"

"In those first days in 1963, he succeeded in the all-important goal of boosting the nation's confidence. "By contrast with Mr. Obama," wrote historian Robert Dallek in the New York Times Jan 23, 2009, "Johnson had no mandate to govern except for being vice president. No one expected a Southern politician to suddenly replace the youngest man ever elected to the White House."

"It took him longer than 100 days, but he set Congress on the path to passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as a tax cut and Medicare. Actually, he sought to pass more legislation, help more people, lift more Americans out of poverty, and become more of a historic figure than FDR. And in some ways he succeeded, under a program he called the Great Society."
posted by VikingSword at 3:46 PM on July 22, 2009


What more need be said?

If Obama's will is not the issue - then what is? Congress does not cooperate? I say, it's the responsibility of the president to compel them by a vision so compelling or by hook or by crook (FDR or LBJ), to do your will. Has he? Clearly, he has not. And to blame Congress is weak sauce. Congress has always been headstrong. It's the president's job to lead.


That's pretty feeble, VikingSword. You're saying that the political mistake Obama made was not becoming president when FDR did. The political circumstances were completely different, the political context was completely different. To say "well, some presidents just have a magical ability to Get Things Done" and some don't, and that's all there is to it" is not political analysis, it's not even the beginning of a thought.

If you can't say a single thing that Obama has actually failed to do or a single call he made that you can persuasively argue he should have made differently you really have nothing whatsoever to contribute to this conversation.
posted by yoink at 3:46 PM on July 22, 2009


This is what Obama could have done, had the mandate to do, and had the popular support for, and yet failed to do:

1)Real financial reform - both banking and securities, which he failed to do. This, after giving away truckloads, trainloads and shiploads of cash to the industries in question. Yet he hasn't even accomplished anything on as a miniscule a scale as Sarbanes-Oxley. Not even that. And this is an urgent matter - the very foundations of the modern economy.

2)The mortgage industry is as screwed up as ever, and no real movement has been made to reform and clean up this industry, which is the biggest contact individual consumers have with the finance industry. Reagan managed to foul up the industry plenty fast and plenty bad. I wish Obama was as capable of doing the reverse.

3)Military procurement and policies. He made tiny progress with the F-22, but other than that, it's been an abysmal failure. The behemoth is as wasteful as ever, and we need that money desperately, for other things. Instead, it is being sunk into that quagmire. DADT - utter failure. He has not pressed Congress on that point - and don't tell me he can't afford the political capital - FDR or LBJ were not worried about political capital when it came to doing this - especially contemptible given wide public support.

4)Tax reform. Roll back GWB idiotic cuts on the top earners - first order of business, if GWB managed to do the cut by June, why can't Obama reverse them by June? It's July now.

That's a start. There's plenty more. Can you do so much? Yes, and you can actually do more, much, much more - see FDR, and see LBJ.
posted by VikingSword at 4:06 PM on July 22, 2009


I'm also an LBJ admirer. Probably a great president if not for the tragic folly of the Vietnam War.

He wasn't just in the Senate, he was the Senate Majority Leader, and in those days the Majority Leader had more actual control and Congressional Democrats were more likely to go along.

Since he was taking up the mantle of the fallen hero, one of the reasons he was able to get things done was by appealing to sentiments about fulfilling JFK's legacy. (Even though LBJ actually did much more on civil rights, for example, than JFK did.)

I don't think "magnetic" is the word I'd use for LBJ. "Overbearing" is more like it, both emotionally and physically. He was a relatively poor public speaker (and didn't like public speaking).

DADT - utter failure.

You're criticizing him for not doing something he did not say he would do. Can you cite where Obama said he would end DADT himself, by summer 2009? He's been pretty consistent about saying Congress should repeal it.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:18 PM on July 22, 2009


"He could suspend DADT right now as we wait for an outcome"
He's said on several occasions that Congress needs to repeal the law. That's how it's supposed to work. Congress makes and changes the laws and the Executive Branch enforces them.
He could actually enforce it, within the letter of the law, without it having any practical effect.

The law actually says that the person will be separated from the military in a manner prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.

Obama could instruct his Secretary of Defense that the person should be separated in the normal manner - i.e. at the end of their natural contractual obligation, should they choose not to re-enlist.
posted by Flunkie at 4:25 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're criticizing him for not doing something he did not say he would do. Can you cite where Obama said he would end DADT himself, by summer 2009? He's been pretty consistent about saying Congress should repeal it.

"Congress should repeal it". Well, why has it not happened? Because Obama is not pressing for it. FDR or LBJ got Congress to bring bills to them, that they wanted. Obama promised no specific time frame - but what's the delay? The entire point of my citing the 100 days of FDR and LBJ was to show that you don't need to go super slow, looking fearfully over your shoulder. You can stride boldly in doing the right thing - especially with abolishing DADT, which has public support. Get Congress moving on it, STAT.

Again - maybe delmoi is right. Maybe Obama's style is different, a rope-a-dope, and before you know it, he's accomplished it all. I fervently hope so - frankly, because otherwise we're all really fucked - I hope Obama just has a different style.

As to LBJ - note, he accomplished a lot after getting re-elected, post the entire JFK assassination capital boost. In the article I cited, they specifically speak of his own 100 days as new president - as distinct to what he did in the remainder of JFK's term.
posted by VikingSword at 4:28 PM on July 22, 2009


It's interesting that Truman desegregated the military by executive order, but Obama can't do the same for DADT.
posted by smackfu at 4:46 PM on July 22, 2009


It's interesting that Truman desegregated the military by executive order, but Obama can't do the same for DADT.
Was there a law regarding racial segregation in the military? If not, if it was just the DoD's operating procedure, it's not the same situation.
posted by Flunkie at 4:51 PM on July 22, 2009


And to blame Congress is weak sauce. Congress has always been headstrong. It's the president's job to lead.

I'd say there are some significant differences between our current Congress and the one FDR had to work with, but the problem isn't that Congress is headstrong, it's that it seems to be full of idiots.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:56 PM on July 22, 2009


Was there a law regarding racial segregation in the military? If not, if it was just the DoD's operating procedure, it's not the same situation.

The Legislative branch can take powers away from the Executive branch now?
posted by smackfu at 4:59 PM on July 22, 2009


One example of Congress ignoring one of Obama's agenda items (I just remembered) was the Mortgage cramdown legislation.
posted by delmoi at 4:59 PM on July 22, 2009


(Although I admit I'm not sure what authority Truman used to end segregation. I assume Commander-in-Chief.)
posted by smackfu at 5:13 PM on July 22, 2009


VikingSword, you're producing shopping lists, not plans of action. Saying "he could have done X" without saying anything about how he could have done it is as useful as saying "he could have given us all ponies!"

1)Real financial reform - both banking and securities, which he failed to do. This, after giving away truckloads, trainloads and shiploads of cash to the industries in question. Yet he hasn't even accomplished anything on as a miniscule a scale as Sarbanes-Oxley. Not even that. And this is an urgent matter - the very foundations of the modern economy.

Actually, most of the "truckloads etc. of cash" given to the banking industries was given under Bush.

As for "real financial reform": that sounds nice. Everybody probably would say "yes, we need financial reform!" But what do you mean, exactly? What actual programs would you have liked him to take to congress? Which ones do you think would have been easy to get through Congress? Which ones do you think would have been killed in the senate? How could he have rallied the senate to his side? What would have had him trade away to the moderate republicans and conservative Dems who look out at the tea-baggers and the mad-as-hell CNBC and Fox News commentators and start quaking in their boots?

You are, of course, aware that the Treasury has been working all this while on a package of financial reforms which they are about to present to Congress, aren't you? Care to say which parts of that package you think could have been more radical? Which senators do you think would have been most likely to oppose those more radical options? How would you have got them on board?

2)The mortgage industry is as screwed up as ever, and no real movement has been made to reform and clean up this industry, which is the biggest contact individual consumers have with the finance industry. Reagan managed to foul up the industry plenty fast and plenty bad. I wish Obama was as capable of doing the reverse.

Actually, Obama has implemented numerous programs to try to free up money to help people with their mortgages and to try to encourage banks to renegotiate mortgages. It's true that those programs have not yet met with wild success. There is huge pushback in congress on any proposal to allow judges to restructure mortgages on primary dwellings in bankruptcy proceedings, however, which is probably the only plan that would really work. Is that the plan you want to see implemented? How, specifically (not "by being more like LBJ") would you propose that Obama overcome that enormous resistance? Again, what are you willing to see him trade away in return for that?

3)Military procurement and policies. He made tiny progress with the F-22, but other than that, it's been an abysmal failure. The behemoth is as wasteful as ever, and we need that money desperately, for other things. Instead, it is being sunk into that quagmire. DADT - utter failure. He has not pressed Congress on that point - and don't tell me he can't afford the political capital - FDR or LBJ were not worried about political capital when it came to doing this - especially contemptible given wide public support.

FDR and LBJ would have been highly amused to hear you say that they weren't worried about political capital. Of course they were. All politicians have to be. FDR wanted the US to do more for Jewish refugees from Germany in WWII, but chose not to press the issue publicly because he knew it was unpopular (I know, terribly insignificant compared to the horrors of DADT). He wanted the US to enter WWII before Pearl Harbor, but couldn't get it done until that attack gave him the political capital necessary to do it--etc. etc. As for LBJ, he gave us this definition of a President's job: "Every day that I'm in office and every day I push my program, I'll be losing part of my ability to be influential, because that's in the nature of what the President does. He uses up capital."

Obama never claimed he would eviscerate the military budget or be a pacifist. He always talked about ramping up the war effort in Afghanistan. It seems particularly foolish to fault him for doing exactly what he promised he would do.

4)Tax reform. Roll back GWB idiotic cuts on the top earners - first order of business, if GWB managed to do the cut by June, why can't Obama reverse them by June? It's July now.

Rated "In the works" by Politifact. The comparison to Bush is frankly idiotic. There is huge political support in the community at large for tax cuts. There is slender support for tax increases, even on the wealthy. No politician has EVER suffered in an American election for having voted to lower taxes, many have lost elections because they voted to raise them. Bush was sitting on historic surpluses in an economy where everyone was making money hand over fist, Obama is looking at the smoking ruins of the world economy and with conflicting pressures of deficit reduction and the desire to stimulate spending.

These are your "top 4 Obama failures"? Boy, he's an even better President than I realized.
posted by yoink at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2009


smackfu, Truman could do it just by executive order. However, because of the Clinton "compromise", DADT was taken out of the president's hands - they specifically passed a law, which means that only by passing another law abolishing DADT would the policy be reversed. There is an argument that DADT can effectively be de-fanged with an administrative maneuver (which is true), but the truth is that in order to gain legitimacy, you actually need to repeal the law. So what should the president do? Obama said that he wants the law changed, so that DADT can be abolished - and that's fair. What is objectionable, is that he basically implies: "well it's all up to Congress now". As if he only needs to passively wait until they see the light. That's BS. What someone dedicated to the issue would do as president, is now lobby Congress to pass the law. Like FDR or LBJ would do with legislation they wanted. Obviously Obama is not doing this. The question is why. The optimists say that it's a matter of tactics - he doesn't want to expend political capital and/or focus on this issue when he's got bigger fish to fry, and he'll get around to it after that. The realist response (or pessimist, if you will), is that somehow there is always some other priority and never the right time (see King's letter from the Birmingham jail re: "just wait, the time is not right"). The other thing is that this is just crazy - he's not spending political capital to speak of, since kicking away DADT has popular support (according to polls). And finally, FDR and LBJ and presidents who are proactive, don't have to ask is there too much on my plate at the moment - they did a TON during the first 100 days... my point in linking to the first 100 of both FDR and LBJ. So "focus" is also a poor excuse. Nonetheless, many people are willing to give Obama slack here, at least until mid term elections are over in 2010. All I'm saying is - fine, but don't tell me how much Obama has accomplished already, and how illegitimate it is to expect movement on DADT so soon. "So soon" would not be in FDR and LBJ's vocabulary.
posted by VikingSword at 5:27 PM on July 22, 2009


All I'm saying is - fine, but don't tell me how much Obama has accomplished already, and how illegitimate it is to expect movement on DADT so soon.

I never said it was "illegitimate" to expect movement on DADT or anything else. I said that I don't think it's likely to happen. Those are two different things. I wish Obama would exert leadership in these areas. More importantly, I wish the Democratic zombies in Congress would exert leadership in those areas, because their action is what matters, much more than anything Obama does or doesn't do.

"So soon" would not be in FDR and LBJ's vocabulary.

Neither would DADT be, neither would ENDA be, neither would same-sex marriage be.
posted by blucevalo at 5:42 PM on July 22, 2009


The other thing is that this is just crazy - he's not spending political capital to speak of, since kicking away DADT has popular support (according to polls).

The "No on 8" people can tell you just how different people's opinions on an issue like this are when you ask them outside the heated context of a political firefight and within that context. Polling on Prop 8 had it losing by huge figures until the campaign started. The fact is that most of the time most people think being gay is no big deal. A recent DADT poll has 56% of people saying it should be repealed (which is a lower percentage than those originally opposed to Prop 8).

But do you really believe that that would stay the same if Obama started to make a fight out of this? Do you really think that Fox News et. al. would just let this lie? That was the mistake Clinton made when he originally tried to allow gays to serve in the military. He looked at the numbers and thought "you know, this really isn't that big a deal, I can get this done" and it became one of the first major blows to his Presidency. To pretend that this is something Obama can get done by just lobbying Congress and that will cost him nothing in terms of political capital is hopelessly naive. I think he can get it done and I think he will get it done, but he needs to pick his moment. As important as DADT is, it will have nothing like enormous impact of healthcare reform if he can bring that off. Were he to risk achieving healthcare reform by running at DADT prematurely, I think it would be safe to call him a foolish and unwise politician.
posted by yoink at 5:46 PM on July 22, 2009


Now, I am unwilling to condemn Obama as ineffectual 7 months in.

But that's exactly what you're doing, because he can't or won't replicate the successes of FDR and LBJ.
posted by blucevalo at 5:47 PM on July 22, 2009


He's the next JFK!
posted by smackfu at 6:00 PM on July 22, 2009


yoink, you keep moving the goal posts. You remind me of my first collaborator who wanted help on a screenplay he wanted to direct. Every time I'd give him notes, he'd whine "but how exactlyyy", until I pretty much wrote the whole thing myself, and then he'd ask "but how exactly to direct" - it was looking that I'd write and direct the whole thing, and all he'd do is put his name to it (after asking how).

I already gave you examples of how FDR and LBJ were able to do a ton during their first 100 days, to which you responded with this gem: "You're saying that the political mistake Obama made was not becoming president when FDR did. The political circumstances were completely different, the political context was completely different." I don't know how to put it so that it sounds super polite, but do you understand how examples function? Since no two historical situations are identical, not even a second later, I guess you'd be firmly in the camp of "we can't learn a damn thing from history". Santayana must be smirking in the heavens above. And I call bullshit on your claim that the political circumstances were "completely different". Of course they were different - that's a trivial claim, since the very next milisecond the world is "different". What matters is whether in the respects that I compared, which are relevant to the situation at hand, the parallels make sense - and I made several arguments why they did.

To this, you respond, with a new demands for actual examples: "If you can't say a single thing that Obama has actually failed to do [blah, blah, blah]. So I give you four very specific examples, and say "This is what Obama could have done, had the mandate to do, and had the popular support for, and yet failed to do". Oh, OK. Time to move the posts again. Now it is "but how exactly" was he to do it, whom to talk to and how, what to trade for etc., etc., etc.

This is bullshit. You want me to outline a political strategy of intrigue and pressures and specific bargaining chips that would take 700 pages of detailed strategy generated by a president and many advisors? Here, in my post? You know, if you can't argue honestly, at least argue sensibly.

Getting back to reality: I'm telling you that other presidents - and yes, each had their extra super special unique snowflake historical situation every single damn time - have managed to accomplish tons more in the first 100 days than Obama has. I don't know why Obama is going slow - maybe for good reasons, as delmoi claims. What I am saying, is merely that it is not unreasonable to say that a lot can be done in 100 days, because historically it has been done repeatedly by different presidents. And I don't believe that Obama's situation is soooo unique that somehow he's barred from doing the same. At best, he has a different strategy - and that remains my hope.

I can respond to your requests "for more details" - like regarding the securities regulations, how about abolishing most of the derivatives trading beyond a quantifiable level of removal from the underlying security (so you can't trade on a derivative of a derivative of a derivative etc.), demanding much higher levels of proof of insurance and securitization (so f.ex. you can't trade instruments which are insured with no-name insurance insta-companies which are ridiculously undercapitalized, merely to get around regulations), re-instatement of a modern version of the Glass-Steagall act, giving the SEC some real power to go after abuses and stopping the personnel revolving door from industry to regulator and back, and so on for many pages. Yes, I could write a mini book here. But for what? You'd merely move the posts again. Sorry, but there's no need for me to specify the color of suit Obama should wear when lobbying a given senator, much as such a detail would help you, because frankly it is not really quite in the scope of the blue.
posted by VikingSword at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2009


Now, I am unwilling to condemn Obama as ineffectual 7 months in.

But that's exactly what you're doing, because he can't or won't replicate the successes of FDR and LBJ.


If that's what you got out of my post, then I expressed myself badly. I meant the following:

1)It is possible to accomplish a lot in 100 days. To argue otherwise is to ignore history. That's the function of bringing in FDR and LBJ.

2)Obama is not going the FDR and LBJ way. It may be because he has a different strategy - delmoi's claim. I'm doubtful but hopeful.

3)I fear - without being certain - that it's because he ain't got it in him. He's just not a good enough political infighter.

4)I hope I am wrong.

5)Yes, it is too early to judge - this is my idle speculation and hopes and fears. I try to remain optimistic.
posted by VikingSword at 6:13 PM on July 22, 2009


VikingSword: from my second comment directed at you:

So, and please be specific, what is it that Obama has failed to do that--had he done it--would have brought the legislature into line?

See? Not "what accomplishments should he be able to brag about now," not "what policies should he have seen implemented"--I asked you how he was supposed to bring the legislature into line. I'm not asking you "what is it you want to see done"--I'm asking you "what is it that you think Obama ought to do to achieve his legislative agenda?"

The goalposts have remained the same the whole way through. Care to take another kick at them, or are you just going to repeat the fact--which no one is disputing--that LBJ and FDR both had extraordinarily productive "first 100 days"?
posted by yoink at 6:16 PM on July 22, 2009


1)It is possible to accomplish a lot in 100 days. To argue otherwise is to ignore history. That's the function of bringing in FDR and LBJ.

It is possible to establish a successful stagecoach operation in the Western states. To argue otherwixe is to ignore history. That's the function of bringing in Wells Fargo!

Times change; situations change. LBJ was effective in his first 100 days, and ineffective later. Why? Not because he changed, but because circumstances changed. FDR won a lot of battles, but he had a very difficult time with the legislature after the fiasco with his plan to pack the Supreme Court. Why? According to your theory of politics it must be because he suddenly forgot how to be a politician (maybe he forgot that suit-color theory you're working on?).

The fact is that FDR came into power in his first term after the depression had been dragging on for several years. People were agitating all over the country for a radical new approach. It was an ideal time to put a major reform program through Congress--and Roosevelt did a fabulous job. LBJ was swept into office with a stunning majority, and with a two thirds majority in the senate (TWO frickin' THIRDS!). His legislative agenda, bold and remarkable as it was, did not represent the position of the radical fringe of the party's left wing. LBJ saw himself and was broadly seen as a centrist figure in American politics at that time. Geez, even with a two thirds majority in the senate he still worked with a number of Republican figures to get his initiatives through. Again, he was reviled on the left.

This "oh look, FDR and LBJ did it, how hard can it be?" line is just fatuous. If you want to say that Obama is a poor politician you have to identify actual mistakes of political process, not simply enumerate bills passed or not passed.
posted by yoink at 6:33 PM on July 22, 2009


yoink, you've made multiple different requests all over the map. Including this:

"If you can't say a single thing that Obama has actually failed to do[...]" I gave you not one, but four. Yes? Or No?

You also asked: So, and please be specific, what is it that Obama has failed to do that--had he done it--would have brought the legislature into line?

Which is frankly the kind of bullshit request that's not really designed to move a discussion forward. Again - I addressed this: do you seriously want me to outline a political strategy here? Do you understand that this is something that teams of people do in strategy sessions, the notes of which run to hundreds of pages and hours upon hours of internal debates (as tapes of various presidents attest to)? You want specific techniques for exerting pressure on the legislature? Here in my post? How is that a sensible request? How would an answer even look, realistically here? I attach a ginormous pdf file to every word of a 100,000 word post? Because that's what "specific" would require.

That's not honest debate. Sensible debate would be to dispute the realism of getting the legislature to do your bidding. To which I would answer that it has been done before. To which you may claim that Obama has it uniquely bad. To which I'd respond that every president would claim that, and in fact, that's not true in this instance, since there are strong parallels between the situation FDR faced and Obama faces. And so on. Asking for specific strategy is a stupid request, one which does not move the conversation forward.

And if you are not asking for that, then could you please specify a realistic request?
posted by VikingSword at 6:41 PM on July 22, 2009




yoink, you've made multiple different requests all over the map. Including this:

"If you can't say a single thing that Obama has actually failed to do[...]" I gave you not one, but four. Yes? Or No?


It helps to read the whole sentence:
If you can't say a single thing that Obama has actually failed to do or a single call he made that you can persuasively argue he should have made differently you really have nothing whatsoever to contribute to this conversation.
With that "call he made" to you really think I was talking about "legislative achievements" rather than the political process that would lead to those achievements? Really? If so, I'm sorry you're such a poor reader.

do you seriously want me to outline a political strategy here?

Yes. If what you are criticizing is his grasp of political strategy then I expect you to say "here is where he has made a mistake of political strategy and here is what he ought to have done differently." I don't mean that you need, necessarily, give every single step-by-step blow of the process, but at least address the thing you claim to be talking about. So far you've said not one single thing in support of your claim.

Here, I'll give you an example: I think it was a strategic error for FDR to try to drive a bill to expand the size of the Supreme Court through congress. Although the upside would obviously have been smoother sailing for his legislative program, it simply stirred up too much opposition and sapped his political capital.

Here, I'll give you another. I think it was a strategic error for Clinton to put Hillary in charge of the healthcare reform process. I think it provided the opposition with too easy a target to personalize the issue (and in the form of a person not widely liked), and it fed into opponent's claims that there was something undemocratic and "backroom-deal" like about the plan.

O.K., now you. Tell me a strategic error that you think Obama has made. You know, other than "not being FDR or LBJ."
posted by yoink at 7:24 PM on July 22, 2009


OK, that's easy. First and foremost, he should have framed the reform of the financial and security industries differently. Here's how. You go to the American people and say: "In order to prevent total economic collapse, we are obligated to expend a huge amount of money to support the banking industry. However, this cannot be merely a bailout and business as usual, otherwise we'll just get to the same point some time in the future. Therefore, I have prepared a very tough reform package, that will bring healthy practices into the industry and penalize any future abuse. The money and the reforms will be concurrent, dependent on each other. Please call your representative and offer your support for the reforms without which the money would be wasted." Then continue beating the drum of tough reforms and being tough on the speculators who were responsible for this fiasco - "tough on crime and abuse", always a popular position, especially vs the "fatcats". Emphasize that without a series of reforms: financial industry, mortgage industry, military complex, etc., the country will be in dire straights and possibly an imminent depression. Any representative who is against this package of reforms we need to pass in the next 100 days, is directly responsible for you losing your job, and is obstructing "change". This is an emergency and a much needed fix for the economy and the country. Then send your rep to congressional leaders in both houses, and say: let's pass this, this, this and this.

How is this different? You do the moves simultaneously. Instead, what we had was shoveling of mountains of cash to unaccountable and seemingly "bad money after good" rogue industry. Reforms are somewhere in the future. Bullshit. It causes anger and resentment in the population and gives the special interests time to water down any actual reforms. How has it worked out so far? Exactly.

Had it been done the way I indicated, it would have gone down in a fire of righteous anger and congress critters and their lobbyists would be afraid to face the popular ire. Ram it down their throats - for financial industry: no reforms, no money, federal take over and possibly long investigations with looming jail time... so line up, nice and easy. Oh, congressman X is opposed? Hey, if you lose your job, mr. Six-pack, you know whom to blame - the guy who wants to give out money with no strings, or who wants the entire economy to collapse.

Just one example.
posted by VikingSword at 7:55 PM on July 22, 2009


Oops, excuse the various misspellings, I'm doing three things at once, and am not proofreading.
posted by VikingSword at 8:14 PM on July 22, 2009


How is this different? You do the moves simultaneously.

Nice plan. Pity that most of the money spent on the banking system was authorized under President Bush.

Or was this a last, lingering look at the strategic failures of the Bush administration?
posted by yoink at 8:19 PM on July 22, 2009


Nice plan. Pity that most of the money spent on the banking system was authorized under President Bush.

Bullshit:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/business/economy/11bailout.html

"February 11, 2009
Bailout Plan: $2.5 Trillion and a Strong U.S. Hand

By EDMUND L. ANDREWS and STEPHEN LABATON
WASHINGTON — The White House plan to rescue the nation’s financial system, announced on Tuesday by Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, is far bigger than anyone predicted and envisions a far greater government role in markets and banks than at any time since the 1930s.

Administration officials committed to flood the financial system with as much as $2.5 trillion — $350 billion of that coming from the bailout fund and the rest from private investors and the Federal Reserve, making use of its ability to print money."


Or was this a last, lingering look at the strategic failures of the Bush administration?

As I suspected, you are not interested in honest debate, but in bullshit games. Nice snark there, especially that you got your facts wrong. Is your tone really called for in this circumstance? I'm doing all you are asking me for, even the most unreasonable demands, and you're just waiting to snark? And you can't even get that right? Classy. Stick to the facts please, and stick your tone elsewhere.
posted by VikingSword at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2009


From the article that you linked:

"The pessimism seemed to indicate that Mr. Geithner missed the mark with one of his shorter-term goals — to quickly instill confidence that the Obama administration has a coherent approach to the banking crisis and that the transparency and oversight of the new program will differ markedly from the Bush administration’s management of the first $350 billion that Congress authorized last year for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

"'The spectacle of huge amounts of taxpayer money being provided to the same institutions that helped cause the crisis, with limited transparency and oversight, added to the public distrust,' the Treasury secretary said, in a clear swipe at the Bush administration."

TARP was included in Public Law 110-343, signed into law by George W. Bush on October 3, 2008.

Those are facts, not snark.
posted by blucevalo at 8:44 PM on July 22, 2009


'The spectacle of huge amounts of taxpayer money being provided to the same institutions that helped cause the crisis, with limited transparency and oversight, added to the public distrust,' the Treasury secretary said, in a clear swipe at the Bush administration."

TARP was included in Public Law 110-343, signed into law by George W. Bush on October 3, 2008.


What?? Are you serious? I'm afraid we are speaking of different things. Here, from the article:

While traveling in Fort Myers, Fla., President Obama welcomed the news that the Senate voted 61-37 to approve its $838 billion economic stimulus bill Tuesday, but dismissed the market reaction to his bank rescue plan.

There was no reason on earth for Obama to go along with any idiotic plan from Bush. That was a mistake right there. He should have insisted they stop, and include the tough reforms he proposed.

Further, you are wrong. That vote was only one chunk - minor chunk of the money. The rest, the huge overhang, the big majority of the money would be coming online later - STOP IT. Reset. Start over - after the first installment under the Bush plan, stop any further disbursement or plans for such. Kill the Bush plan. Generate a new plan dependent on the reforms.
posted by VikingSword at 8:53 PM on July 22, 2009


I'm not following what you're saying, entirely, but I will concede that I may have got some of my facts wrong (it's not all that easy to track the money that's been disbursed). All I was really trying to say was that the Bush Administration started the flow of cash to the banking system, not that the majority of the money was spent under Bush. In any case, I'll shut up now.
posted by blucevalo at 9:03 PM on July 22, 2009


Was there a law regarding racial segregation in the military? If not, if it was just the DoD's operating procedure, it's not the same situation.
The Legislative branch can take powers away from the Executive branch now?
Well yes, they did, in fact. Together with the Executive Branch itself, who signed it into law.

If the current incarnation of the Executive Branch thinks this law passed by the Legislative Branch and approved by the Executive Branch was not Constitutional, they should get the Judicial Branch involved. But for now, it's the law, and the non-Judicial method of revoking a law is through the Legislature.

Or, as I said above, by enforcing it in a manner that strictly adheres to the letter of the law, without making it in any way effectual.
posted by Flunkie at 9:18 PM on July 22, 2009


FDR wanted the US to do more for Jewish refugees from Germany in WWII

I'm not sure that's true. I just read Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, and one of the themes is that no one--including Roosevelt--wanted to take in Jewish refugees before the war (there weren't a lot of refugees during the war due to blockades). November 15, 1938, five days after Kristallnacht (p. 101):
A reporter asked if he felt there was any place in the world that would be able to take a mass emigration of the Jews from Germany.

"I have given a great deal of thought to it," said the president.

"Can you tell us of any place particularly desirable?" the reporter asked.

"No," the president answered, "the time is not ripe for that."

Another reporter asked the president if he would recommend a relaxation of the immigration restrictions so that Jewish refugees could come to the United States.

"That is not in contemplation," said Roosevelt. "We have the quota system."
On June 4, 1939, Roosevelt refused to let ~900 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis land in the US. The ship returned to Europe and an estimated 227 of the passengers died in the Holocaust.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:54 PM on July 22, 2009



I have a friend who I used to watch football with. He always threw a big Super Bowl style party for opening day. His reasoning was that opening day was better than the Super Bowl, because that's the one day every single fan gets to think, "this is the year we go all the way".


your friend can't live in michigan, then
posted by pyramid termite at 10:19 PM on July 22, 2009


LBJ was a great president.

he was a master manipulator and consummate wheeler-dealer of a politician - he DID pretty much get everything he wanted

and then the country went to hell in a way we STILL haven't recovered from - he manipulated the country into a war that we couldn't win - he attempted an ambitious domestic agenda that ended up bitterly dividing the country and running up deficits, setting the stage for the stagflation of the 70s - and then he insisted upon continuing his war while mass protest grew and american cities burned - and then, most damning of all, he failed to preserve his political prospects and allowed richard fucking nixon to get the upper hand

no, he was one of the first of many tragic figures to have gained the presidency in our times only to discover that they were not strong enough or lucky enough to withstand the agenda they were faced with

it just fries me to say it, but the only president we've had who wasn't a tragic figure was ronald reagan - although the bushes are arguably too mired in mediocrity to be truly tragic

the last word is that you can speak about 1964 and how wonderfully well lbj did at that time - but then he went for another term and it all fell apart for him and the country

not a great president - period
posted by pyramid termite at 10:58 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I say the same thing now that I said pre-election:

"I'm fully invested in the New Coke, but I'm pretty sure it's the Old Coke with a new marketing campaign."
posted by TomMelee at 5:22 AM on July 23, 2009


2parse i think has been particularly astute on the short-term politics of health care reform...
The Lesson of 1993: While the Democrats and Obama have long been planning on pushing through health care, what is going on now is pure political blood sport. This is a zero sum game. This is a Democratic attempt to prove that they can accomplish something that is popular and helps the middle class and which they have been trying for sixty years with only moderate success to enact. This is the Republican attempt to protect the status quo and to slingshot their way back to power as they did in 1994.

Bill Kristol has said that this is the week to stop health care reform..: "This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill."

...Senator Jim DeMint rather infamously declared in a secret call to anti-reform advocates: "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

Newt Gingrich echoed this point: "This could be the bill that drags his whole presidency down and they look back on it and suddenly the whole thing is unraveled."

And the Democrats seem to agree – as the former Organizing for America sent out DeMint's statements to rally supporters – and Mark Kleiman, a Democratic blogger said, "This bill is make or break for the Democratic Party."

...make no mistake as you see the charges thrown about by both sides in these next few weeks. This battle is no longer about policy for either the White House or the Republican Party... it is about whether or not the Obama administration will be broken by obstructionist elements. The short-term success of the administration will be determined by whether or not they succeed in the next few weeks to pass something substantial; their long-term success will depend on the policies they are able to include.
and on what those long-term policy prescriptions should address...
The Medical Loss Ratio: Obama’s attempt to reform health care is partly about reforming the way we provide care (with electronic records, comparative effectiveness studies, etc.) – but it is mainly the way in which we provide health care insurance. In this fight, there is one statistic we have not heard enough about but which critics of the current system should bring up whenever they can: the medical loss ratio. This statistic describes the percentage of dollars that a health insurance company takes in from its premiums that it uses to actually pay for medical services. For example, back in the 1990s – when the health care insurance industry was quite profitable – the figure was generally in the mid-90s. In other words, about 95% of all dollars collected in premiums were used to pay for medical services. Since then, structural changes in the health insurance industry have led it to focus more on profits – as a Wall Street mentality took hold. Since the 1990s, the medical loss ratio has dropped significantly. Today it is in the mid 70s to low 80s – meaning $20 to $30 of every $100 paid in insurance premiums is not used to provide the services paid for. These profits – and the quest to increase such profits – has led to the health insurance industry becoming more like a Wall Street financial firm – with massive bonuses to its top executives and large dividends to shareholders as they skim greater profits from a rising bubble in the field in which it operates in. Our health insurance system is run by Wall Street tycoons. How does this affect the quality of the service that health insurance companies provide?

[...]

Our system of health insurance has created a Wall Street-run health care business. For all the worry Republicans are trying to gin up about government bureaucrats reporting to Congress or the White House being in between you and your doctor – what we have now is a system where faceless corporate bureaucrats are making medical decisions reporting to Wall Street tycoons. Like the Wall Street firms, health insurance companies have driven up prices exponentially, creating a bubble; the CEOs take enormous salaries; they are accepting money for insurance from anyone, but will look for any way out of any of their commitments if they can get away with it. In normal businesses, profits are the primary side-effect of providing a product or service; in a Wall Street style corporation, profits are the sole and only goal – with the product or service they are selling merely a means to this end. This is what our health insurance industry has become. This is the royally fucked system we have today.
again, i think so much as a national health care system (or lack thereof) reflects cultural expression -- like from a rawlsian perspective of judging society by its weakest, least advantaged and most vulnerable members, or the proportion of its population attaining the pinnacle of maslow's pyramid -- the failure or success of reform has the potential to be fairly momentous in the fight over the soul of the country, not to exaggerate :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 8:43 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Further, you are wrong. That vote was only one chunk - minor chunk of the money. The rest, the huge overhang, the big majority of the money would be coming online later - STOP IT. Reset. Start over - after the first installment under the Bush plan, stop any further disbursement or plans for such. Kill the Bush plan. Generate a new plan dependent on the reforms.

VikingSword, your proposed strategy was to "do the moves simultaneously." I.e., to make one dependent on the other. The problem is that the first move had already been made before Obama became President. To describe TARP as some kind of "minor chunk" of money is false but even if it were halfway true it misses the point. The point is that from a policy perspective the chance of saying "the one move depends on the other" (your entire "strategy") was already dead before Obama became president. The bailout was already well under way.

This idea of saying "well just stop it and start over" is an entirely new "strategy" (one you've dreamt up because you had forgotten who signed TARP into law). It is, unfortunately, a wrongheaded one. The public would have been completely confused by the President saying "we're going to stop TARP, and then we're going to restart TARP as long as everyone agrees to my reregulation proposals--which aren't yet fully formulated." At a time of profound economic crisis, it would have been badly damaging to the economy to generate such uncertainty.
posted by yoink at 10:07 AM on July 23, 2009


The point is that from a policy perspective the chance of saying "the one move depends on the other" (your entire "strategy") was already dead before Obama became president. The bailout was already well under way.

This idea of saying "well just stop it and start over" is an entirely new "strategy" (one you've dreamt up because you had forgotten who signed TARP into law). It is, unfortunately, a wrongheaded one. The public would have been completely confused by the President saying "we're going to stop TARP, and then we're going to restart TARP as long as everyone agrees to my reregulation proposals--which aren't yet fully formulated." At a time of profound economic crisis, it would have been badly damaging to the economy to generate such uncertainty.


No it would not. Stopping a Bush bailout would have played wonderfully with the public and paid good political dividends. Continuing with the Bush program is what confused people - "we voted for change" - the unpopular program from an unpopular ex-president.

And why is it that Obama did not have a plan ready? As you well know, presidential candidates who win primaries immediately start planning their agenda. That was the time to already start on the most important job - fixing the economy, because with no economy, you've got no country. You hit the ground running the second you are sworn in. The next day you go on TV and announce your ready package - of all major reforms, including financial, mortgage and tax. Can't be done? Too much on the plate? Other presidents have done it - my entire reason for bringing in LBJ and FDR... "yes we can".

There are other reasons for acting fast. Your political capital is the greatest at the start. Then, as time goes by, it is a diminishing commodity. Which is why while I hope for the best, I am somewhat skeptical of the alleged rope-a-dope strategy. You just won an election. Your power is at its peak. The opposition is in disarray. Deliver your major blows - NOW. Pound them before they recover and manage to formulate a counter-strategy. If the legislature bucks - the nation can clearly see the obstructionists, and you can make your appeal "people voted for change, and here these scum are blocking it, the forces of same-old-same-old-business-as-usual, if things fall apart, you know whom to blame". Ram the packages through, finance, tax, military, 1-2-3. Before the enemies recover. Your first speech "these reforms are being brought to congress as we speak, we need immediate action, the economy is on the verge of failure, time is of the essence. I will report on the progress with weekly announcements. First up, is going to be...".

That's why I believe there is the whole strategy of 100 days. As in any campaign, military principle of "follow the momentum", you must press your advantage and not give your enemies time to re-adjust and focus. Hammer them with maximum force, because you'll inflict greater political damage too. As a famous political consultant said "when you see your enemy drowning, don't throw them a life-jacket, throw them an anchor."

This is what makes me skeptical of Obama's political skill at infighting. He doesn't seem to understand that sometimes you gotta know how to kick shins. He reached out to the Repubs, and what did he get? Absolutely nothing. Sure, it solidified the left's idea that the Repubs are obstructionists, but the public didn't care, in fact they saw it as a sign of weakness - and the poll numbers show it. You bought nothing, and you lost a lot. Instead, this is how you do it. As another famous saying goes: "you say, nice doggie, nice doggie, while you reach for a big stick". So you say "in the spirit of bi-partisanship, I invite the Republicans to come together with us to fulfill the wish of the nation in pushing through these reforms". In other words, you say nice things, and hammer with an iron fist. The Repubs are then in an no-win situation, because if they buck, things get rammed through anyway, and they merely look obstructionist, meanwhile you are not losing time or momentum, you keep pressing forward. It seems to me, Obama doesn't quite get this.

The other thing that makes me skeptical is how things are going so far - a lot of dithering, and watering down, and laughable "compromise". Wrong, wrong, wrong. Here's how you do it - as in any negotiating strategy. You are at maximum power - you just won an election. Make your "MAXIMUM DEMANDS PLUS EXTRA" now - and keep pressing them. Hit 'em with a high quote - very high quote. Go for the max. That re-defines the field of discussion. This is what the repubs have done so successfully and how they managed to shift the entire frame of reference to the right, so any compromise is from extreme-insane right to merely insane right. Time to shift the discussion. Yes, it will be a shock at first when you boldly propose extremely major reforms, but then the shock wears off, and all of a sudden, it is within the realm of at least discussion in polite company. The republicans are masters of this. Obama seems not to understand this. That's why we see so much dithering and compromising and mewling and apologies and fiddling at the edges, meanwhile the opposition is becoming emboldened, and your entire agenda gets watered down into nothing.

Again - I remain ever humble about the complexity of the world, and how limited anyone's knowledge is. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe the rope-a-dope is what will work here, despite all the examples of the past, FDR, LBJ etc. Maybe Obama will surprise us all. I again affirm - it is too early. I allow plenty more time to judge. I won't express firm opinions until sometime shortly after the 2010 mid-term elections when I see what's on the agenda then. I'm giving this plenty of time. I'm merely expressing certain concerns and fears. I remain hopeful... for now.

It seems to me, Obama doesn't quite get this.
posted by VikingSword at 11:11 AM on July 23, 2009


aargh, that last sentence above should be struck.
posted by VikingSword at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2009


He doesn't seem to understand that sometimes you gotta know how to kick shins. He reached out to the Repubs, and what did he get? Absolutely nothing.

Did his reaching out have any affect on the 3 Republicans who voted for the stimulus bill?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:17 PM on July 23, 2009


Harry Reid says, "What we're going to do is come back in the fall."

So, once again Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, while betraying the people who elected them. See you in 2010.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:25 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm glad Obama doesn't bear much resemblance to LBJ because to say "He was a great President, except for the Vietnam War" is a PRETTY FUCKING BIG except.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:45 PM on July 23, 2009




Is Obama Punking Us?
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2009


« Older Who said war can't be comfortable?   |   No more ditching in the Hudson is a plus. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post