Friday, May 1, 2009

100 days of Obama

Given the popularity of rating the progress of our new president, I figured 'what the heck', I'll jump onto this band wagon and throw in my two cents. So, in no particular order, my thoughts on the first 100 days of the 44th president of these United States.

The Bailouts - Here I give him a resounding 'meh'. No better or worse than I would have expected from a politician. I would have greatly preferred that he move instead to protect investors and provide a fallback lending program to insure businesses could get credit, and then just let the wall street firms collapse. There may be good reasons that this could not be done, but I get the impression that it has more to do with the strength of the lobbying groups than anything else. Lower ranking for the auto bailouts. These are companies that were marginal when the economy was good, they need to be replaced with something better. I would prefer to see this handled by letting them fall and providing assistance with rebuilding whatever rises from the ashes. I would say he is doing a little worse on this than I would have expected.

The Stimulus - I am neutral on this. If I understand the theory here, the notion is that we need to spend a buncha money to get things moving, and as long as we are spending it may as well be on Democrats dream list of improvements. I don't agree with all of their projects, but I am not offended by most of them either. Here I would have to say he is doing what I would have expected him to.

The Budget - This ties in heavily with the previous two. There is little arguing that he is spending at a level not seen in generations. As far as I can tell nearly all of the increase is the bailouts and stimulus, so I will not deal with that separately. His long term budget relies heavily on expected savings from programs not yet implemented to show things will get better, this is a classic case of 'counting your chicks before they hatch'; Before the eggs are even laid in this case. I could knock him for that, but this is pretty standard fare. He's dealing with an emergency situation; I do not think we can fairly judge his normal behaviour from this.

Foreign Policy - Here is where I think he really shines. Never mind that he is not getting instant results from his practice of showing respect to smaller countries; We are in this for the long game. Will someone mistake this for weakness and try to push us? Maybe, maybe not. If he caves when pushed, we have a problem, but I do not see him doing that. Countries that flat out hate us will not be won over by this, but they are largely a lost cause at this point anyways. It is the ones on the fence that are going to be affected. We have the most offensively capable military in the history of humanity, and the most powerful economy to go with it. Kudos to him for realizing that acting tough is not necessary when you are tough. This is one area where he has exceeded my expectations.

Inexperience - This is a mixed bag. The way he handles himself, and some of the errors made clearly show his lack of experience running things. Then again, so does his simply ignoring trivial attacks and his general tendency to not act like a politician sometimes. I like this. Whether I agree with him or not, I see him focused on doing what he thinks needs doing more than on playing at politics for it's own sake. The small errors are the price for this, and well worth it. (As a practical matter, I think he had better stay on target with what he does - the general public is willing to overlook small errors because he is seen as above the trivia, let him stoop to lower tactics just once or twice and they will turn on him with interest.)

Executive Power and Transparency - The big failure. Moving to expand protections for domestic surveillance and the moving of Gitmo operations to Afghanistan are unacceptable and the only area where he has really disappointed. Apparently things look different from the big chair. If the Republican party had not decided to go with an 'attack everything' strategy, they could hammer him hard on this; as things stand it is getting lost in the poutrage. Respect must be given to the grassroots Left for calling him on this, but the parties are not paying enough attention to keep it on the news, and that is what it takes to change stuff like this.


I am sure I missed stuff, but that is all I feel like typing for now.

My general impression? Pretty damn good for a Democrat.


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