This being a collegiate setting, we’ve heard the rumor that, if your roommate dies, you get straight A’s for the semester. So, what kind of grade do you get when you’ve inherited a country with a dying economy, two wars, skyrocketing prices and a full third of the citizenry wishing that your predecessor was impeached?
In terms of grading Barack Obama’s presidency up to this point, he’s done a mostly satisfactory job both at home and abroad – given his resources. In addition, most complaints lodged against him are either ill-thought-out or completely nonsensical.
First, I’d like to go over the positive work Obama has done for the domestic situation. Since we can all be honest, I’ll admit something – the words “positive” and “domestic situation” are going together like oil and water at this point. The thing is, as a country, the United States would be in a lot worse shape without Obama’s leadership and collected thinking.
Take, for example, the infamous bailouts that were given to failing businesses at the start of the year. These bailouts were opposed by many people, often on the grounds that it would be a good thing to see poorly run businesses take a nosedive. It takes a smarter sort, like our president, to see the forest among the trees.
Sure, it might be satisfying to see American auto companies fail after years of putting out noncompetitive, gas-guzzling cars. The Obama Administration, however, was smart enough to see that the only thing keeping Detroit from turning into a mid-western Thunderdome was an infusion of much needed cash. The same thing counts double for the Wall Street bankers.
Another comfort from the Obama Administration is the lack of hostility towards alternative views. After November’s upset, there wasn’t immediate talk of a “permanent Democratic majority.” Obama started his term by asking for a greater understanding between ideological viewpoints.
While bipartisanship is still a mythological concept in Washington (especially on the tricky case of healthcare), this is little fault of Obama’s. Rather, it’s the opposition saying, “we won’t” without offering viable alternatives.
While the slimier slice of the opposition is busy conjuring up images of old folk’s death camps, the president has been courting Christian groups under the faith that the true religious will care about the least among us. [I have no idea what this means. E-mail him back and find out.] It’s things like this that give me, what’s the word? Hope.
As for foreign affairs, I stand by Obama’s choices. While the president may be on better terms with the world community simply by merit of not being George W. Bush, it must be said that he’s doing nothing to rock the boat. When I think of the journalists held hostage in North Korea and Iran who were later released, I wonder if the same thing could have happened 10 months ago.
Obama’s handling of the two-front war on terror has also been intelligently handled. While the process of handing over security of Iraq to Iraqi forces has been bumpy, it’s altogether a wise thing to do. And while a larger amount of Americans are starting to oppose the war in Afghanistan, I am willing to go out on a limb and say I unconditionally support the surge in troops in order to stabilize the country.
It was a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan that allowed Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda to plan and execute 9/11. If more troops are needed to stop this type of human scum from pulling off another attack, I support it.
The subject of Afghanistan also makes an interesting segue to my next point: Most critics of Obama are willfully ignoring the facts. To wit, Conservative columnist George F. Will claims that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, given that, “Taliban forces can evaporate and then return, confident that U.S. forces will forever be too few to hold gains. Hence nation-building would be impossible even if we knew how.” This type of defeatism is surprising, given he waited through eight years to say it.
On the subject of spending, radio talk show host and Vicodin enthusiast Rush Limbaugh has said, “This is the guy who has just saddled us with $11 trillion in budget deficits for the next 10 years … We can’t continue Obamaism.” So, what did he say about Obama when the president opposed the war in Iraq, which contributed about 3 trillion to the deficit?
“This is a guy who sought their defeat. This is a guy, Barack Obama, who voted against every progress-in-Iraq vote that came up. This is a guy who was out there impugning the United States military along with everybody else in his party.” Ah yes, the power of a selective memory.
Finally, given that the state of affairs was well on its way to hell when he got into office, Obama has done his part in making sure things will get fixed. It might be hard to acknowledge it sometimes, but things are looking up for America. Like any student who normally gets to class and finishes his work on time, Obama deserves a B.
Ted Rogers is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]