I will not be the first nor the last to state this, but as a lifelong Democrat of a fairly liberal bent, I feel that, thus far, the Obama administration kinda stinks out loud. It's almost stunning how disappointing the whole bunch has been.
Most people I've talked to are amazed that Obama has managed to squander virtually all of the good will that accompanied him into office. Some try to hedge their bets by claiming that since expectations were so sky-high in January 2009, it would have been impossible for him to live up to them. While that's probably true, he hasn't even come close, and more often than not, he doesn't even appear to be trying. If I had to provide three adjectives for him thus far, they would be aloof, arrogant and tone-deaf ... and I voted for the guy!
(I feel compelled to mention that I supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. Now, more than ever, I feel she would have made a better president.)
While the "He's not George W. Bush" argument remains fairly compelling, the more-important matter of note is that Joe Biden isn't Dick Cheney.
I called a bunch of people I know who were (are) big Obama supporters and asked this question: If Barack Obama was a 100 in your mind on Inauguration Day, what is he now? The highest response I got was a 70, which is a C- where I come from. The mode (the most common response) was a 51, and nobody gave him less than a 50. People are clinging to hope, but without a whole lot to back it up.
The person who gave him a 70 is a college student in Washington, D.C., who once claimed to be his biggest fan.
"I'm tired of always defending him. There isn't a whole lot that he's done that is worth defending," she says. "At the same time, I'm appalled by the attacks he has to put up with. In all honesty, he hasn't done very much that people can attack him on. He really hasn't done much of anything."
I gave him a 50, which is about 50 points higher than I gave his predecessor, mostly because Obama hasn't invaded any new countries; his Supreme Count nominees aren't atrocious; and he at least pretends to stand up to the banks. But otherwise, what has he done? Let's take a look:
• The stimulus. Have you felt the stimulus? I'm pretty sensitive. I felt that Mexicali earthquake a few months back. I sensed its approach; I felt a little queasy as it rumbled underneath our house; and then I noticed the change as it continued on its way, leaving the chandelier in our dining room swaying ever so slightly. That pretty much describes the stimulus package as well. I heard that it was coming. Then, one day, while turning onto the eastbound Interstate 10 onramp near Orange Grove Road, I saw a sign by that big hole in the ground that said the government was doing something, and then ... nothing. The $750 billion has left me and the American economy feeling less than stimulated.
• The war(s). We're getting out of Iraq. Big whoop! We never should have gone there in the first place. It will forever mean a black mark on the Bush administration, and lots of black ink for Halliburton. I don't care if Iraq becomes a democratic paradise where soda pop comes out of the water fountains; we should never have been there. The sooner Obama gets U.S. troops out of there, the better.
As for Afghanistan, we absolutely should have gone there, and we should have emerged a few months later with Osama bin Laden's head on a pike. And then we should have left, because it's a giant sinkhole of a place that's unconquerable, mostly because there's nothing there worth conquering.
• Health care. OK, so what emerged from Congress wasn't as bad as the legislation which motivated that famous phrase, "weaker than a soup made from the shadow of a crow that had starved to death." But neither is it a whole lot to brag about, especially since he burned through all of his political capital to get it. If this is the legacy on which Obama wants to hang his hat, he's got a very small head.
• Education. As mentioned here before, he's dead-wrong about throwing money at charter schools. The phrase, "Hey, let's try this new thing!" might be OK for marital relations and weapons research, but it has proven to be not such a good idea in education.
• The oil spill. President Obama didn't cause the oil spill, just like Bush didn't cause Hurricane Katrina. But, gee whiz, Mr. President, you've got the Ultimate Presidential Screwup template right there in front of you, and it's not even five years old. It's still fresh in people's minds. Why are you following it?
You should be doing the opposite. Show up at a relief center, and say something like, "You're doing a horrible job here, Brownie." Send in the military. Convene a panel of experts. DO SOMETHING!
There is still time, and there is still hope, but President Obama is running out of the former, and we're running out of the latter.