All posts tagged Barack Obama


Obama 2.0

First and formost, congratulations to the president on his second inauguration and the start of his second term. The past four years have been tumultuous and were filled with numerous political battles, unexpected disasters, international crisis’ and incidents, and the slow reemergence of the nation’s economy following the financial crisis of 2008. With that in mind President Obama’s first term must be graded as incomplete due to the fact that it will take several years to see what the tangible impact his policies and efforts will eventually lead to. Many of his policies, primarily Obamacare, will begin to take effect in the upcoming years as well as the change in our global engagement. The ending of our two wars, the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and our shifting focus to the Pacific all make the next four years on the world stage very interesting.

In his speech, Obama sought to tie liberalism to a long American tradition.

In his speech, Obama sought to tie liberalism to a long American tradition. Photo from Reuters

Domestically the president dealt with a politically divided nation and an obstructionist and far-right leaning Republican Party, primarily due to the efforts of the Tea Party. Many questioned the president’s leadership style, his true political philosophy, and his ability to negotiate and compromise to reach deals to help further the nation. Whatever skepticism or questions that may have existed were clearly answered, and put to rest, during the president’s inaugural speech this past Monday. I, as many, had hoped for  a more vintage and hopeful Obama who would speak above the petty political fights that have consumed the day to day battles engulfing Washington. What could have been a grand call to unity on the largest public stage and the loudest bully pulpit– targeting and rallying Americans, and bypassing the sclerotic Congress–turned into a direct rallying cry to the president’s base. The Obama who showed up was a new politician who was unshackled by the constraint of reelection which has bogged him, and his policy goals, down for the past four years. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the agenda that the president outlined, what is evident is that the next four years seem to be set up as a battle between the administrations newfound confident liberalism and the politically divided Congress. Read more…


Start Thinking America

It is a new year, and with the exit of the 112th Congress (one of the worst in our history) and the political haggling of the first of many ‘fiscal cliffs’ now over, America seems to be facing a new and potential hazardous future if it chooses to stay on the same destructive course. With the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama for his second term, the newly sworn in 113th Congress, and three new fiscal nightmare scenarios looming, we once again stand at the precipice of doing what is necessary, versus what will suffice the status quo and political power grabs.We often get caught up in media cycles and do not look at the big picture.  Sometimes what is necessary is for a look in from the outside, such a view sometimes puts things into perspective.

 

Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent

 

With that in mind everyone interested in the future of the U.S. should read Edward Luce’s Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of DescentLuce, who is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Financial Times and a former speechwriter for former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, outlines the problems facing the U.S. as the rest of the world continues to grow and our economic, and political, strength continue to diminish. He outlines the social, economic, and cultural decline that the nation faces– mourning the decline of American pragmatism which has seen the nation push through past crisises and threats of decline.

This time around he, as well as a litany of other experts he cites, are not so hopeful. In the New York Times review of the book, Jonathan Rauch summarized some of the main points outlined in the book. Summarizing Luce’s arguments, he states

where does that leave the country? Not in a great place, if Luce is right. Jobs are disappearing, median household income is declining, skills are in short supply, health costs hobble competitiveness, outsourcing and offshoring and automation marginalize working-class men, and through it all political leaders either sit by helplessly or actively oppose remedies. And that’s just in Chapter 1. Later sections bring us dysfunctional schools, demoralized government, burdensome debt and deficits, failing innovation, hidebound regulation, crumbling infrastructure, a paralyzed Congress, a broken campaign-finance system and more, much more.

Though the book does a great job listing all the doom and gloom scenarios facing the U.S., its best asset is that it illustrates that our decline is relative. It is relative to the rest of the world which is still struggling to find its bearing and inherit its newfound political and economic power. We have time to adjust, to make the necessary changes, and to adapt the U.S. for a new decade and century before it is too late. The book highlights some of our largest threats and challenges of the past century– the Cold War, the emergence of Japan in the 1990’s, and now a globalized world and the emergence of China.

The U.S. has weathered the same alarmist voices which speak of America’s decline for decades. What the book does is raise the alarm against absolute decline. Winston Churchill once said that America always does what is necessary when it has exhausted all other options, yet again our backs are against the wall and our leaders must act to reemerge from a financial crisis and political paralysis.Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgi Arbatov, Gorbachev’s close aide told the U.S. “We [the USSR] will do a terrible thing to you; we will deprive you of an enemy.” This time around America faces the worse enemy in its history– itself. Over a century ago Abraham Lincoln envisioned this decline from within when he stated  “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Luce makes a number of good points, raises a number of valid questions, and offers some pragmatic solutions for the future of the U.S. Let’s hope someone is listening. Reading this book would help.


The Elephant in the Room

( This is part 1 of 2 of this article. To read the second part “Prescriptions for an Ailing Elephant” go here)

There is an elephant in the room. Look in the mirror, Republicans: It’s you. There is no one to blame but yourselves, and it’s time to get your act together. This past election made it clear: President Obama and the Democrats did not defeat you, you have been defeating yourselves for the past twenty years. This past election was a culmination of a ruinous policy, and trajectory, that is of your own making. The primary purpose of a political party, or any organization, is to achieve their policy, and in order to do so you must win. The goals of the Tea Party and the religious super-right are sacrificing electoral success for ideological purity. That is the surest formula for self-defeat and the GOP has mastered that formula. Dogma does not win elections, and as long as you choose to be a political party rather than an ideological movement, your goal is to win elections. Having a candidate who shares most but not all of your ideals is better than not having a candidate win at all. Somehow, somewhere, the party has forgotten this fundamental principle.

 

Lets highlight the losses that Republicans have inflicted upon themselves, both in the 2010 mid-term election, and in this year’s election. Read more…


Second Term Strut

Yesterday’s White House press conference with President Obama showed a new man, and perhaps a new president. Traditionally in his rare press conferences ( since  you can not program a teleprompter with answers to questions you do not know in advance) the president was aloof, professorial, talked slow and calculated, and seemed to not enjoy interacting with members of the media or to be questioned ( see first debate with Mitt Romney). Read more…


Validation and Vindication: Hope and Change

President Obama’s re-election was more important and meaningful than his first. Let me explain.

When the president won his election against John McCain in 2008, it was heralded as a historic moment in America. The election of the first African American was seen as groundbreaking. Even if Hillary Clinton had been nominated instead, she still would have won and it would have been just as historic. But she did not: Barack Obama got nominated, he beat John McCain, and he became president.  But any Democrat would have; I am not taking anything away from the president, but after eight years of George Bush the country was looking for a change— a drastic change— and it elected a relatively young and inexperienced Senator as President of the United States. Read more…


Four More Years, of the Status Quo?

First and foremost, congratulations to President Barack Obama on winning re-election yesterday and on a well run, and tremendously successful, campaign.

Despite all the punditry and right-wing news and media projections it was not as close as anyone had expected. The Obama campaign was well organized  thanks to the incredible work of David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Jim Messina, who I believe will go down as the best campaign organization in the modern era. Their ability to turn out the vote using all methods of traditional media and modern technology, along with a strong grassroots political machine, ensured a decisive and quick win for the president. Read more…


Country First, Candidates Second

Today  is election day. Both parties and presidential candidates have been campaigning for months and it will finally culminate today. Regardless of who wins this years election, it is set to be the most divisive in American history. If Barack Obama wins, he will do so with the lowest percentage of white voters in history and if Mitt Romney wins he will do it with the least amount of non-whites ever recorded. This just illustrates one of the numerous ways this election is being decided through a divided prism of opposing voters such as: whites and non-whites, married women and single women, pro-life and pro-choice, tax cutters and revenue raisers, those worried about the debt and deficit and those not, small-government and big-government believers, pro-Obamacare and anti-Obamacare, pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage, pro-gun control and anti-gun control, and the list goes on dividing us up…

However, despite all the negativity and constant rhetoric, we are fortunate to have two well-qualified and dignified men running for the highest office in the county. Though they may not be many peoples first choice, and there are many more qualified people, our political process has nominated and chosen these two men and that choice is a blessing in and of itself. Today, the United States continues its growth and living history by adding a new chapter and a new leader. What we should hope for is true leadership not just from the winner, but from the loser as well. Read more…


Obama Vs. Romney…according to the world

With all the endless campaigning and non0stop partisanship going on ahead of Tuesdays election it would be nice to take a step away, like internationally, and see what the world has to say about the upcoming presidential election. Fortunately, Foreign Policy did just that in this article. By taking numerous world polls we see that the world is not as divided about the election as we may be here at home. As you can tell from the map above, the world seems to be pretty blue.

Obama is preferred over Mitt Romney in 31 out of 32 countries in the UPI poll and 20 out of 21 countries in another BBC World Service/GlobeScan/PIPA survey. Fifty-one percent of respondents in the UPI poll said they would cast a ballot for Obama, with more people saying they wouldn’t vote for either candidate (18 percent) than would vote for the Republican nominee (12 percent). In the BBC survey, 50 percent of respondents chose Obama and only 9 percent selected Romney.

Perhaps the administration’s goal to reshape America’s image around the world may have worked, either that or like our elections, this has become a global popularity contest. But what was striking, truly striking was though many nations complain about America’s role in the world and many people tend to criticize us, they seem to be keenly involved in our affairs and care about the outcome. Take for example; Read more…


Spoils of Victory

Whether President Obama or Governor Romney win the election net week, one thing is pretty certain ( though no really wants to admit it), whoever wins will preside over an economic boom in the US. Fareed Zakaria makes a compelling argument in his latest article in the Washington Post. According to the most recent International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook;

when looking out over the next four years — the next presidential term — the IMF projects that the United States will be the strongest of the world’s rich economies. U.S. growth is forecast to average 3 percent, much stronger than that of Germany or France (1.2 percent) or even Canada (2.3 percent). Increasingly, the evidence suggests that the United States has come out of the financial crisis of 2008 in better shape than its peers — because of the actions of its government.

Despite Mitt Romney’s argument to the contrary, or that we could be doing “better” than  we are now, other leading economists have echoed the positive trends that are being illustrate by the economy. Read more…


Debating the Debate (Part 3)

The BEST assessments and recap on last nights debate. Considering it was on foreign policy, The Economist covers all the issues well and gives great insight.