Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obama's B+? Maybe with Grade Inflation

President Obama gave himself a B+ on 60 Minutes this weekend. Frankly, I think he was way overoptimistic. I won't say he has an F, but he's in C or D territory unless something happens between now and Jan. 20, which is really when the year's grade should be bestowed.

Obama promised change, but in domestic terms he's given us lots more of the same ... with nicer language and a more credible persona, of course. Internationally, he's been given a lot of credit -- including an undeserved Peace Prize -- that essentially amounts to an obligation to come through with something.

Don't believe me? Let's go down memory lane ...
  • The $787 billion stimulus package is not the failure Republicans say it is, but it was too small (I'm with Christina Romer's wish for $1.2 trillion), too much went into tax cuts and giveaways and too little got in fast-spending people's wallets. These flaws were painfully bipartisan in origin, but Obama signed the legislation when his political capital was at its peak and he should have bonked heads to get a better bill out of Congress.
  • The AIG bonus fracas ... ? It was embarrassing to watch .. and it began to make me wonder whose side he's on.
  • The first Obama budget was basically identical to what Bush's would have been if sane people had been in the White House during the first eight years of this century. The cockamamie stuff was gone, but nothing was fundamentally changed (... because the Obama folks said it was all in the stimulus). Memo to the WH: the stimulus is temporary; we need permanent solutions.
  • Speaking of which ... there's the health reform that never happened. Even if Harry "Jellyspine" Reid manages to pull off an alleged health bill, at most Congress will have made minor tweaks to health insurance. Millions of people will continue to die -- yes, to die -- because they don't have enough money to pay for a doctor's or health insurance executive's third home in the Bahamas.
  • And while we're on the subject of death, those 30,000 added soldiers in Afghanistan, while we're still not out of Iraq, were a real change from Bush, weren't they?
If Obama had been John McCain, well, sure, this would be a B- or even a B+. After all, McCain never claimed to have the human compassion and verve for change that Obama did.

Frankly, I can't imagine that the end result of McCain's first year would have been that different: we'd still have double-digit unemployment, increasing poverty, health legislation (if any) written by insurance company lobbyists and war without end.

So? What's B+ about that?
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