I like to participate on several political internet forums to debate politics. A pointless pursuit you say? Correct! It is mostly a waste of time, and as the old meme goes…
However I don’t think of it as any sort of productive time, it’s more a relaxing hobby. I do occasionally like to engage in a battle of the wits with political opponents. At best, it feeds my ego that I’m the smartest guy on the internet, and at worst, it helps me hone my arguments and think about various angles to issues that I may not have thought of previously.
So not a total waste…
And occasionally it brings up some good ideas that I can expand on and write about. Case in point, a long time internet debater of the lefty persuasion challenged me to say something good about Obama. It’s not the first time she has made this demand, and during the Bush years, she constantly demanded that I criticize the Bush administration. Easily done of course, but in the tradition of internet debates, it made no difference since a week later she would make the same challenge again, purposefully forgetting last week’s list; hyperlinks notwithstanding. It was the Chinese meal of internet debates.
Although I can’t understand the psychological need for having her candidate validated by an opponent, since I didn’t feel the need to get her approval for any that I supported, I don’t mind taking advantage of it. Has President Obama done some good things for the country?
The answer of course is an extremely qualified yes.
To elaborate, I need to go back to the expectations I had of him as President. I fully expected President Obama to go full bore with a lefty agenda on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts. However I wasn’t worried about domestic policy so much. A wise Congress, counting its pennies, would bring the new President’s lofty spending agenda down to earth.
Clearly I miscalculated.
Throughout my lifetime Democratic Presidents even with a Democratic Congress had to fight tooth and nail for their priorities, so I was totally unprepared for a Congress that basically threw the checkbook at the President, telling him to have a blast. On the domestic and spending front, Obama confirmed every hysterical fear the right had on Obama’s spending, both in dollar amount and actions. The GM bailout could have gone in many different directions, but the President chose a path that included violating the law and getting an equity interest in the company; in other words, government ownership of the company; the very definition of socialism.
And I didn’t even mention the failed economic policy or Obamacare!
So when it comes to domestic policy, we did get the President that Hannity and Rush promised, but how about foreign policy?
Things didn’t start out great in that department either.
The administration let us know that Democrats were back in charge of the ship of state when President Obama went on his infamous apology tour, traveling from Europe to Latin America informing the world that America was sorry for being America. Then, the administration added a real policy change to that by cancelling our missile defense shield in Europe. And then there was Obama’s back and forth on an Afghanistan policy. The Administration initially came out with a policy in March 2009 that emphasized counterterrorism as the primary military strategy, and then panicked when he found out the troop commitment that was required from his handpicked General to make this policy work. This led to a political squabble within the White House that lasted months, with the White House pretending it had never decided on a military strategy in March of that year. It took until December for the President to finally unveil his new and improved Afghanistan Policy during a speech at West Point, which was a political contrivance that traded an increase in troops with a promise to withdraw by a date certain. I’ll leave it to Obama supporters to decide if the administration kept its promise on that “date certain”.
So the first year of the Obama Presidency left a great deal for Republicans to criticize.
But there were some decisions that the President made the right call on, even if they were not particularly big decisions. Obama supporters particularly turn to two decisions of the President to burnish his alpha credentials. The first came up early in his administration with the kidnapping of the captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. For any other President this would have been a minor footnote in the Presidential record. However for President Obama’s sycophants, this was considered a major military victory. President Obama authorized force to be used if the Captain’s life appeared to be in imminent danger. Well, of course his life was in danger, and Seal snipers took out the pirates and rescued the Captain. A feel good story if there ever was one, but considering that the Defense Department had twice tried to get the President’s authorization for the use of force, (Really, the President had to sleep on this?) it doesn’t seem that the White House really got engaged until they got tired of dodging the Pentagon’s phone calls. If the Pirates had been a bit more threatening earlier in the conflict, this story could have gone in a different direction. However to an Obama supporter, this was equivalent to Obama personally storming the beaches at Normandy.
The other was of course, the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The news of UBL’s death was probably the best news for Americans in the War on Terror in the past decade. It was an extremely satisfying victory and on the first anniversary of his death, it still tastes pretty sweet. But that’s not good enough for administration sycophants, who seem to think the decision to kill Bin Laden was the most difficult Presidential decision of the past century. To me, as far as Presidential decisions go, it was the most obvious no-brainer of Presidential decisions in the past century. I mean really, there would even be an option of not trying to kill or capture him? Instead, the supposedly decisive Obama had to “sleep on it” before he could give the go order. With all of the sleeping Obama requires to make a decision, he’s probably the most well rested President in history. Yet Obama and his supporters continue to act as if only Obama could have pulled this feat off, never mind the SEALS who actually carried out the mission, and who it’s now being reported that they are a bit unhappy with the Commander In Chief’s grandstanding on the Bin Laden issue. In fact, Obama as much as said that if Mitt Romney had been President, he wouldn’t have given the kill order. Of course, without the intelligence derived by techniques the President vehemently opposed, there probably would have been no trail to follow that lead to that compound in Abottabad.
Way to not spike that football!
Interestingly, the same people who hit the roof over “Mission Accomplished” seem to have no issue with the President’s manipulation of this issue for his re-election campaign.
But… in spite of the President’s foreign and national security flaws, he has been aggressive in the War on Terror, even though he won’t use the term himself. The President has, for the most part, had to jettison most of his academic left baggage when it comes to national security since he became President. Not only has he double downed on killing terrorists, he’s embraced almost all of the President Bush GWOT policies. Considering the differences between Obama and Bush, they’ve achieved a remarkable consensus on how to fight the war.
Why did he change so much as to accept and use almost all of the policies that he ran against? That will probably be left to future historians to figure out, but I suspect his first national security briefing was a real eye opener, forcing Obama to reconsider dismantling the policies he had campaigned against. There’s nothing like a nice load of crap in your pants to make you reconsider your assumptions. Going against a lifetime of habit of thought couldn’t have been an easy one, but the country is much safer because he was able to make that leap. So for that, thank you Mr. President, for helping to keep the country safe!