Wed, 11 Mar 2009 02:35:47 +0000 – Editor's note: FOX Forum contributors were asked to share their views of President Obama's first 50 days in office. Please share yourviews by clicking on "Leave a Comment" at the bottom of this post.
Phil KerpenDirector of Policy, Americans for Prosperity
In just 50 days the Obama administration has already doubled-down--or more--on the reckless expansion of federal spending that had conservatives wringing their hands during the Bush administration. But with high inflation a near-certainty over the next few years, we may look back nostalgically on a time when a trillion dollars sounded like a lot of money. Of more lasting significance will be the big policy changes that are put in place, and the verdict is still out on most of those, with the two biggest being health care and energy taxes via cap-and-trade. The sheer ambition of the Obama agenda has been breathtaking but it's too soon to tell if it will succeed or fail.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarlandNational Security Expert
Fifty days into the Obama Administration and they still have not figured out where they're going with major national security issues. Granted, previous administrations could take their time figuring this out -- the Obama administration doesn't have this luxury. The longer they "study" the issues, especially the time-sensitive ones, the less their maneuvering ability.
Last week, Secretary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov a button she thought said "reset" in Russian, a play on words about "resetting" the U.S.-Russian dialogue. Unfortunately, nobody checked the spelling. The button actually read "overcharged" in Russian. It was a silly mistake, but nonetheless a symbol of the way the Obama administration is approaching foreign policy: Fire, Ready, Aim. Driven by the "fierce urgency of now" with the economy has led Team Obama to head out half-cocked in a dozen different directions in foreign policy, too.
The one thing I learned in my years at the White House is an administration can only focus on only a few crises at a time. If they try to deal with everything at the same time, they end up focusing on none of them. U.S. relations with China are important, as are our relations with Russia, and East Asia, and South America, Europe and Africa. The chronic state of war between Israel and the Palestinians is also important. So is the environment and the global economy. So are those prisoners at Gitmo. But none of them are as urgent as dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
Perhaps it's a little unfair to say that they've had 50 days, so why no Iran policy? But they had better figure it out soon, because at this rate by Day 500 of the Obama administration Iran will, in all likelihood, be a nuclear power.
Lauren GreenFOX News Religion Correspondent
There are three policy changes by the Obama administration that have sounded the alarm with people of faith... all of them having to do with issues of life.
They are: overturning the "Mexico City Policy"; moving to rollback the "provider conscience" regulation; and, lifting the the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
In his speech before signing the bill on embryonic stem cell research, President Obama effortlessly sanctified science and demonized ideology, except his own.
In one part of his speech he said, "And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society."
Then in the next paragraph Mr. Obama ends with "...and that we make scientific decision based on facts, not ideology."
My question is, what makes cloning wrong and destroying human embryos for the sake of medical science, right? The answer is, ideology. What makes the 'Mexico City Policy' right or wrong? Ideology. What determines whether a doctor has the right to refuse a patient an abortion? Ideology.
Scientific facts and ideology are quite different. As scientist John Lennox puts it, "Science can tell you what will happen when you put Strychnine in your grandmother's tea... but it can't tell you whether it's morally wrong to do so."
President Obama has created an ideology where there should be none. Science is based on observable facts. --It cannot make ideological judgments. When a president says cloning of human beings is wrong, but destroying human embryos for the the purpose of medical science is right, the question must be: "'on what is he basing his conflicting ideologies?"
What's more, Mr. Obama makes the statement with such commitment, implying that he has the moral authority to do so.
So that's why President Obama's first 50 days gets this moniker: "Political ideology masquerading as Absolute Truth."
Andrea TantarosRepublican Political Commentator
We saw the economy start to deteriorate under George W. Bush. But in the past 50 days since Barack Obama has been in office we have experienced an economic freefall. It seems that the Obama administration has been eager to address every single issue under the sun, except the root of our woes: the credit crisis.
Whether it's a distraction on Obama's part or delusional ambition, the public will begin to lose patience if they perceive the administration to be lollygagging. The Street needs some clarity, even if that clarity is letting the banks fair. At least the markets can price for that. They can't price the unknown.
Issue number one is our credit markets. Obama should shelve his plans to for socialized healthcare, forget efforts to talk to the Taliban, and put his cap-and-trade on ice until the real issue at hand, the economy, is on steady footing. The next 50 days will be crucial.
Obama Gets an "F" in EconomicsEric BollingCo-Host, "Happy Hour," FOX Business Network/Host, "The Strategy Room," FOXNews.com
If the Obama administration is being graded with a report card, 50 days out, the economy (or should we just call it Econ. 101) should be a big section of that report card.
The president's grade should encompass America's stock market performance. With a continued slide in the stock market from the Dow at 8,084 at midday on January 20, stocks have slid over 16%. There was only one other president with a worse performance 50 days into his term. Gerald Ford's 20% decline in August- September, 1974 (amid Nixon's resignation) was the the only 50 day performance worse than this president's (as judged by the DJIA).
With questionable choices at Treasury, massive increases in spending, and unemployment rates at 15 year highs and rising, Obama's grade has to be "F."
The good news is that there is plenty of room for improvement. I hope, for the sake of everyone, that the "F" in Econ 101 improves for the next reporting period.
Cal ThomasSyndicated Columnist/FOX News Contributor
President Obama has mounted a radical, dangerous and societal transformation agenda that will alter the character and strength of our nation. He is trading on his "popularity," which is largely superficial, rather than on the substance of his policies, the full effect of which have not yet been felt, but when they are could put his approval rating into a steep plunge. This is being done without hearings in Congress, without input from the Republicans and without much economic or social sense. It appears he is bent on appeasing his far left constituencies rather than serving the best interests of all Americans and securing the future of the country. One is already beginning to see cracks in his support. Warren Buffett, who supported Obama for president, is now expressing doubts. Buffet says the economy has "gone off the cliff." The fear is that the rest of us will soon follow.
Christopher CoffeyRepublican Political Strategist
President Obama must improve, and fast. Poor management, misplaced priorities, and cowardly acts of deflection have plagued his first 50 days, and if continued, will undermine his leadership.
One can find poor managerial skills in Obama's attempts to finish staffing his administration, which have resulted in distracting mini-scandals. So far, Treasury -- the department tasked with fighting the credit problems -- has appeared understaffed, and as a result, adrift in the midst of crisis.
In 50 days, Obama has scared the markets, and has not sufficiently comforted the world. As a result, he is placing blame on his predecessor, especially for his staggering budget deficit. Obama's policies are largely to blame for this year's red ink. This deflection does not reveal leadership, it exposes cowardice.
Obama must improve, manage and lead, lest he will be the world's greatest one hit wonder.
Peter RoffSenior Fellow, Institute for Liberty/Former Senior Political Writer, United Press International
Halfway through his first 100 days, Barack Obama's effort to revive the "era of big government" has succeeded beyond what must have been the Democrats' wildest dreams. Under the cover of fixing the economy, the Democrats have enacted one massive increase in federal spending through the stimulus package and have another in the budget working its way through Congress. They've put close to $1 trillion in new taxes on the table and they're passing out the pork like they're at a Memphis barbeque joint.
First, a generally compliant mainstream media that has chosen to deemphasize the mistakes the administration has thus far made. It is hard to imagine an incoming Republican administration would have been given the same kind of pass Obama has over the number of nominees and potential nominees found to have significant tax problems -- especially in light of their effort to raise taxes by so much. A GOP-led White House would have been subjected to a drumbeat of "crisis in competence" stories that would have driven the president's poll numbers down. Obama, by comparison, has gotten a free ride.
Second, Obama has benefited, some might say contributed to, the disarray among Republicans. Recall that John Boehner's successful effort to keep any of the House Republicans from voting for the stimulus was met by a surfeit of stories questioning his hold on his leadership post. And, because no one took the bait, the MSM have moved on to Eric Cantor, the House's No. 2 Republican. The discussion of Rush Limbaugh's role in the party's leadership, which the White House has also had a hand in fomenting, is both silly and a distraction from the real issues -- a distraction that few have been able to resist. So, 50 days into his administration, Obama still rides high, but against a rising tide of unhappiness with the way things in America are going.
Fifty Days in the Administration's "New" War on TerrorWalid PharesTerror Expert/FOX News Contributor
Noticeably the main change the new administration brought in its first fifty days of the War on Terror is its narrative of the conflict we've been in since 2001. The war as a global confrontation with an international set of forces has been dropped from official discourse. Instead, speeches from the Obama administration now mention two local "wars," in Iraq and in Afghanistan, not a global war with Jihadi terrorism. This means the Obama administration wishes to finish the two "wars" it inherited from the past but doesn't feel that America as a nation is, or should be, part of an ideological or an all-out effort to defeat a planetary menace. The reason is philosophical: The new teams of advisers do not believe there is such thing as a jihadist threat worldwide. They are convinced that the ongoing crises can be solved locally and separately (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) and they strongly advise their leaders that an accommodation can be reached with our foes, especially so-called "moderate" Taliban and reasonable elements in the Syrian and Iranian regimes.
The first fifty days of theaAdministration are like a genome reader of the following three years and nine months, short of dramatic developments: we can see the long range policies from the immediate steps taken in the first few weeks: The decision to shut down the prison at Guantanamo will lead to treating the jihadi threat on a case-by-case basis withindividuals breaking laws instead of a war waged by a movement against the United States. The decision to "reach out to the so-called moderates within the Taliban" could end up dragging Washington into a full-fledged (unsure about its success though) deal with the Taliban mothership. The decision to try to befriend Syria's Assad, again, could lead to a Syrian re-domination of Lebanon. Last but not least the decision to sit down with the Mullahs of Tehran could hasten the rise of a nuclear Iran, not stop it. Indeed, these five weeks are showing a new direction: an abrupt return to the 1990s. The problem is that the enemy has moved ten years ahead of us while we have moved ten years backward. But to be fair, the administration has all that it needs to outperform the previous one. Yes it can..win this war, if it really wants to.
Richard MillerAuthor, "In Word and Deed: Battle Speeches in History"
President Obama is slowly and -- as the crack in his lofty approval ratings suggests--surely, making putting his name on the financial debacle which he inherited. And he is managing this by an unsubtle mixture of inexperience, incompetence and arrogance.
First, like many presidents, he has misconstrued his mandate. He wasn't elected to federalize education, socialize health care, or finance the government through selling "cap-and-trade" carbon credits. He was elected to fix the economy. Here he has used the catastrophe not to instill greater faith but to heighten the perception of disaster in order to facilitate his non-economic agenda. This is the script of a radical, not a governor. The result will be both the continuing failure of the economy as well as increasing obstacles in his efforts to transform areas of American life he wasn't hired to change.
The American people made a mistake last November: not by electing Obama but by sustaining Democratic Party control in both Houses of Congress. My belief is that Obama will govern best by being forced to simply govern. And genuine governance is not likely to occur with a carte blanche given by the Pelosi-Reid team in Congress.
In short, in his first 50 days Obama has embraced the back of the eight ball. And Republicans can take hope if Obama believes he can deflect blame by targeting right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh.