Jan 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Barack Obama Administration! [A Look Back]

Barack Obama was sworn in as our first foreign-born Muslim President one year ago today. He gave a pretty nice speech that everyone has already forgotten. It is too bad he was already a huge failure, one week in!

Before he was inaugurated he said a lot of things about bipartisanship and "changing the tone" in Washington that no one really believed and some stuff like "closing Guantanamo" and "ending Don't Ask Don't Tell" that, weirdly, people did believe. (And, to be fair, he attempted to do one of those things but was stymied by the Republican Superminority. The other thing he still promises to do. Eventually. Arguably he could've "sold" the first thing better but people who constantly make that argument about how a thing should've been "sold" after the fact should always be considered suspect.)

His "Bush Tax Cut" (which was passed through this crazy thing called reconciliation, where you only need 51 votes) was the stimulus, which was not as sexy as a tax cut. (His 9/11 was apparently a guy who failed to detonate some explosives in his underpants who was then promptly caught and arrested and is awaiting trial.) But the stimulus was another thing, too: a legislative victory that led to the very first examples of concern trolls bemoaning how Liberal and Bad this president was!

On January 20 of 2009, Peggy Noonan thought Barack Obama was very nice. His speech was "serious and solid" and "moderate" and "sober." A week later Peggy was upset that the stimulus passed without any Republican votes, and she said, "most everyone knows it isn't a good bill." In reality, a slim majority of Americans supported the bill. And it "wasn't a good bill" because it was watered down to attract Republican support. But Republican support never materialized because it is makes no political sense for them to support anything Barack Obama does. Also this was the blueprint for the entire first year basically, wasn't it?

Now, one year later, Peggy wrote essentially the exact same column as that January 2009 one. This time it is not about "stimulus." It is about health care. Once again, a moderate bill full of compromises to positions formerly held by Republicans has been tarred as a far-left boondoggle and the GOP opposition to the bill is sort of acknowledged to be inevitable political grandstanding but generally explained as if it was a matter of principle.

And, last Friday, Peggy wrote a column about how Obama is "disconnected" from the American people, because he focuses on health care while people are worried a) about jobs and b) about government spending. The president is no longer as sober and serious and moderate as he was a year ago. How sad.

Shortly before Barack Obama's inauguration, David Brooks was blessing the incoming president as the end of identity politics and claiming he would attempt to fundamentally restore balance to the American government. A week later he was complaining about the stimulus. Today he says it is time to abandon health care altogether. Obama is too pragmatic! Attempting to do things about the things that are wrong with the nation? Ugh! No one wants that! The David Brooks who, a year ago, said the nation needed responsible, serious decisions and a renewed commitment to making tough sacrifices and blah blah reasonable Republican blah, this David Brooks now says that Obama should not have done anything about "finance, health, energy, automobiles and transportation, housing, and education" because sometimes his actions poll poorly.

(Maureen Dowd's column today is about Gavin Newsom, for some reason?)

Anyway! Here is Obama's first year Report Card, from us: on every major issue he should've started from a position further to "the left" (or "the way people who pay attention to policy instead of politics agree would be the better, more effective way to do things") so that the eventual caving to "political realities" would've been slightly less painful, and we would've ended up with marginally better bills and probably the exact same complaints of over-reach and "socialism" (and probably the same complaints of being a spineless sell-out from The Left). Also he should fire Geithner but he can't do that because he would never be able to get Geithner's replacement confirmed, no matter who the replacement is. Also Max Baucus basically destroyed Obama's first year single-handedly, we hope that dude is proud of himself and his boyfriend Chuck Grassley.

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