By Jon KrausharCommunications Consultant

In his commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13, President Obama said that, "building a body of work...is about the daily labor, the many individual acts, the choices large and small that add up to a lasting legacy."

As he fulfills this definition in his presidency, let's look at eighteen hard and soft positions belonging to Barack Obama and his administration to evaluate whether--so far--the results are good or bad for the country.

1. ENEMIES LIST

  • Hardon condemning their critics (especially Rush Limbaugh).
  • Softon condemning radical Islamic terrorism (even to the point that Obama's Homeland Security Secretary avoids the term, preferring "man-caused disasters").
2. TERRORISM
  • Hardon closing the Guantanamo Bay prison by the end of the year and halting tough interrogation procedures.
  • Softon explaining what will happen if released terrorists do more harm at home or abroad and also explaining how easing up on captured terrorists helps prevent future attacks that are as bad as or worse than September 11, 2001.
3. MIDDLE EAST
  • Hardon demands on Israel (asking it to make even more concessions to its enemies).
  • Softon pressuring the Palestinians, the Iranians and those who want to see Israel destroyed.
4. TAXES
  • Hardon increasing taxes on those who pay the most (while assuming their commercial behavior won't be affected by confiscations of their wealth).
  • Softon justifying why more money should be given to those who pay little or no taxes (while assuming they'll pay back "spreading the wealth" by voting for Democrats).
5. GOVERNMENT
  • Hardon mandating government control and spending.
  • Softon curtailing government deficits, bailouts and takeovers (federalization and nationalization).
6. GROWTH
  • Hardon the need for growth in new businesses, jobs and investments.
  • Softon a willingness to cut taxes on capital gains, corporations and personal income, which would bring that growth, plus produce higher government revenues.
7. BLAME
  • Hardon punishing financiers whose excesses were spurred on by risky credit incentives created by Congress and the Federal Reserve.
  • Softon censuring the Fed and fellow Democrats like Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, whose policies caused irresponsible lending and speculation, set off a debt bomb, caused a credit crunch, led to home foreclosures and finally an economic implosion.
8. ETHICS
  • Hardon changing a Washington culture of lobbying, corruption, conflicts of interest and law breaking.
  • Softon instances where Obama's appointees are involved in the same practices.
9. BUSINESS
  • Hardon excoriating profitability, executive pay, tax minimization strategies and labor relations of large and small businesses.
  • Softon reining in pension benefits, pay, power and other perks for unions.
10. ENERGY
  • Hardon attempts to use the tax code and government regulation to limit the use of carbon energy (one plan to tax oil, coal and natural gas use would cause the largest tax hike in American history).
  • Softon challenges to anything the Obama administration considers "green" (including cars and alternative energy sources) regardless of expense, market demand or feasibility
11. PRIVATE VS. PUBLIC SECTOR
  • Hardon the belief that Big Government rather than free market capitalism is better able to revive the economy and create private sector jobs.
  • Softon reducing Big Government's waste, abuse and mismanagement in areas such as special interest/pork spending and entitlements, while putting more people on government payrolls (or the dole).
12. DISCLOSURE
  • Hardon criticism of past government deception and hiding of information.
  • Softon current details of government "stimulus" spending and results, despite promises of "transparency, responsibility and accountability."
13. HEALTH CARE
  • Hardon insistence that health care can only be improved if it is managed, rationed and priced by Big Government and its bureaucrats.
  • Softon openness to consumer-driven health care reform, featuring doctor-patient choices.
14. EDUCATION
  • Hardon a nearly unequivocal support for teachers' unions.
  • Softon granting educational choice to parents and children, including many minorities trapped in failed, dangerous schools.
15. IDEOLOGY
  • Hardon warnings about "right wing extremism," suggesting that this includes opponents of abortion, illegal immigration, gay marriage and some returning military veterans.
  • Softon worry about "left wing extremism."
16. POLITICS
  • Hardon lamentations about Republican partisanship and obstructionism ("the party of no").
  • Softon allowing Republicans in Congress access during the shaping of legislation.
17. CHANGE
  • Hardon insisting that all of Obama's sweeping reforms must be passed quickly.
  • Softon forecasts of the economic consequences of those reforms on future generations (aka "inter-generational theft").
18. AMERICA'S IMAGE
  • Hardon apologizing for America's actions (emphasizing guilt, regret and other forms of hand-wringing).
  • Softon disparaging America's detractors (who seem to forget that the USA, while not perfect, has liberated and lifted up more people than any other country in the history of the world).

But every test eventually gets graded and when it comes to our president cataclysmic events may also hasten the report card. In any case, by Election Day 2010 we'll get an update on whether voters believe "the body of work" of President Obama and his administration is properly moving our country to where it should be hard and where it should be soft.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net. He is a consultant to corporate and political leaders including Steve Forbes.