It has been almost a year since President Obama was sworn in as our nation’s fourty-fourth president.
The hype over the “Obama brand” and the promise for “change” was deafening from Obama supporters and much of the media leading up to and after the inauguration.
Now, after a year in office it is fair to take a look back at the president’s record and match truth to consequence.
Here is a list of key issues for the Obama administration:
The Closing of Gitmo
Truth: One of Obama’s first acts as president was to sign an Executive Order on January 22, 2009 ordering the closing of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Prison as a U.S. detention
facility. In his remarks on that day, the president promised that Guantanamo would be closed within his first year in office.
Consequence: Guantanamo is still open and the administration has found it difficult to come up with a viable alternative to the facility or what to do with the detainees they now seek to detain or release.
Truth: The president’s first major piece of legislation was the now infamous $787 billion dollar “Stimulus” bill passed by the Senate in February 2009. This was the bill that admittedly most legislators did not read before voting on it – the one with no transparency. Passage of the bill was demanded by the president, who said that time was of the essence to save jobs. The president promised that the bill would prevent the nation’s unemployment rate from rising above eight percent.
Consequence: Most of the stimulus money remains unspent. Unemployment has topped 10% nationally since the stimulus bill was passed and in many urban areas tops 16% and is rising.
Truth: The president promised that with his unique persona and his “new style” of governing that he could unilaterally convince all those who don’t like us, to like us. He convinced his believers that all he needed to do is “change the tone” and dictators in countries like Iran and North Korea would abandon their nuclear weapons programs and that terrorists would stand down. The president promised a new era of global cooperation on “global warming” and predicted he could bring historic global agreement.
Consequence: The world is a much more dangerous place since Obama took office. Iran has escalated their nuclear weapons program and North Korea has not abandoned theirs. No headway has been made in the Middle East peace process. Talks broke down on “global warming” in Copenhagen in December and no concrete agreement was delivered as promised by the president. As a consequence no progress was made domestically on passage of cap-and-trade legislation.
War on Terror:
Truth: Immediately after taking office and in the months following the inauguration the Obama administration actively made a point of removing the words “terrorism” and the “War on Terror” from their public speech. Instead they choose to call acts of terrorism – “man-caused disasters.” The president went on what I can only describe as an “apology tour” which he kicked with the first sit-down interview of his presidency on Al Arabia television in which he pandered and apologized for past American aggressiveness.
Consequence: The foiled Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Northwest Airlines flight over Michigan forced the president, albeit several days later, to acknowledge the obvious -- there is indeed a “War on Terror.” And it does not matter who our president is -- radical Islamists seek to destroy America, today, tomorrow, next year or even a decade from now.
Truth: President Obama promised that a hallmark of his administration would be transparency. This is some of what he promised:
“We’ll have [healthcare reform] negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so the people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who is making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”
Consequence: To date there have been NO televised negotiations on health care, the “stimulus bill,” cap-and-trade or any other major piece of legislation being advanced by the Obama administration and the Democratically-controlled Congress.
Truth: President Obama promised to make immigration reform a top priority in his first year.
Consequence: President Obama has done nothing on immigration reform in his first year, other than traveling in August to Mexico where he announced he will take no action on comprehensive immigration reform until 2010.
Truth: President Obama demanded health care be passed before the August 2009 Congressional recess and said that he would not sign a health care reform bill without a “public option.”
Consequence: Health care legislation was NOT passed in August and it still has not been passed. It is clear that the public does not want a “public option” and now the president has abandoned that requirement. Democrats -- NOT Republicans -- have been the one and only reason that a health care bill has not passed and thus not signed by their party’s president.
Our National Debt:
Truth: During the 2008 campaign then-candidate Obama was highly critical of the national debt. He vowed to “take a scalpel” to the national budget and to make it a top priority to reduce the nation’s debt.
Consequence: The president has already quadrupled the nation’s deficit thanks to his failed “stimulus bill.” This year the deficit has increased by almost $1.8 trillion dollars and is likely to increase by a trillion dollars a year for the next ten years.
A year ago many believed that Barack Obama was the only politician able to solve the problem facing America. They believed he had all the answers and were mesmerized by his powerful oratory and presence. They believed that all he had to do was address an issue and it would be settled. Supporters saw him as a leader with extraordinary powers and they spoke of him in awe and hushed tones.
The reality is that the president is not all that. He is a person who is not into “heavy lifting.” For my money, he never was. It’s my belief that he ran for a state senate post in Illinois so that he could run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate and then within 2 years of being elected to that post ran for president! He hasn’t spent much time governing although, no one can argue, he is one hell of a campaigner.
The problem now is that Obama -- the candidate -- has reached the end of the political line. He, and the advisers who surround him, never grasped the fact that the campaign was over, that the time to govern has arrived. Instead of taking the reigns of power, he ceded his power and authority to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. What we got out of this deal was a disastrous “stimulus bill” that was rammed through the Congress and a manufactured “crisis” on health care that has paralyzed our government for the past 10 months.
In short, the reality is that our president is just a mere mortal. He has been seriously overrated in terms of both his competence and ability.
He has not delivered on the “change” he promised -- not because he doesn’t want to, but because he doesn’t know how too.
Reluctantly, many Americans have finally gotten wise to the fact that politically, their president, just like the emperor in the the fairy tale, has no clothes.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.