Saturday, October 31, 2009

Weekly Address: Milestones on the Economy and the Recovery Act

Yesterday on Air America, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter opined that health care reform appears to be the "signature issue" of Barack Obama's first term, as if the significance of Obama's presidency could be distilled to Harry Reid's ability to wring 60 votes for reform out of the Senate. Health care reform is important, no question. But reducing Obama's first term to his success or failure on this one issue ignores the eight years of malign neglect by the Bush Administration.

The Bush Administration didn't merely fiddle while Rome burned: It poured fuel on the fire. Its policies led to the economic collapse of 2008. It did nothing while more and more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured. It ignored the ongoing impact of climate change. It poured American blood and treasure into a catastrophic war in Iraq and supported a corrupt government in Afghanistan. It backed the Pakistani military instead of a rising middle class, thus fueling resentment toward America in a vital part of the world. It bungled and then politicized the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, it politicized virtually everything, including scientific fact. It attempted to thwart the Constitution by building executive power beyond anything imagined by the Founders or any previous presidency.

This is the context in which Barack Obama took office last January. His success or failure will not come about due to his performance on a single issue, and certainly can't be reduced to the kind of scorekeeping indulged in by the MSM. Obama's responsibility is nothing less than restoring the presidency as an effective, coequal branch of government that is respected home and abroad because it successfully sets and executes policies that advance American domestic and international interests. He must accomplish this without, I hope and pray, deepening the country's military commitment in Afghanistan, something I have come to believe would be an error of historic proportions.

Sadly, the burden is on him and the Democratic party alone, as the Republicans have utterly failed to recreate themselves as a serious opposition party. Their attitude toward heath care and global warming sum them up: They have no plan because they recognize no problem. As for Afghanistan, if we don't blindly follow the recommendations of the military, if we treat the generals with skepticism, we are dithering. Hurricane Katrina? Hey, "those people" shouldn't have been living there. In short, keep the blinders on, bend to the will of the party yahoos, and hope Obama fails. If that happens, they seem to believe, maybe they'll gat back in power, which is what it's all about.

History will measure Barack Obama's presidency by his ability to turn around the ship of state in exceptionally troubled waters and by how successfully he can reverse the disaster of the previous administration. Bush failed the country and left a nearly unprecedented mess to his successor. In some respects, Obama can't help but be an improvement. But he has to be more than that: He must restore a fundamental credibility to the office. His achievements must be of the kind that restores the faith of the people in their own government, that allows them to believe that it works for them and not for special interests...


The Backstreet Cultural Museum presents and preserves the unique cultural traditions of New Orleans' African-American society, including Mardi Gras Indians, jazz funerals, and Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs:
Video: Backstreet Cultural Museum

More here and here...


Roy said...

Aside from the ludicrous idea of pinning a president's "legacy" on one issue, how ridiculous is it to choose the issue barely into the first year of his term? There are still 3 years and 2 months yet to go, Mr. Alter; there's a lot that can happen in that time!

I was glad to see that the President added the caveat about job loss still happening. The Senate needs to pass that unemployment benefits extension THIS WEEK, and hopefully that little reminder from the President will get that bill up for vote. At least they moved it out of committee and onto the floor of the Senate this past week, but it needs to be passed ASAP.

Foxessa said...

There's also a second line today celebrating the Back Street!

Love, C.