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by Peter Stern
Sunday, Jul. 05, 2009 at 7:40 AM
Has Obama's Shelf-Life Expired?
by Peter Stern
These days well-known political commentator and Washington Post op-ed columnist Charles Krauthammer is making the rounds "respectfully" chastising U.S. President Barack Obama and the current administration. Krauthammer is a gifted and intelligent writer and it is apparent that while he respects President Obama's personal and political skills, he questions the President's real focus and objectives. Personally, I think all Americans should question the focus and objectives of each president. However, Americans should find many of Krauthammer's opinions in his recent speech on Obama questionable, if not obtuse.
That stated, Krauthammer does make quite a few good points about Obama. In his opinion piece "Obama in Bush Clothing" he points out several of Obama's hypocrisies and doing what he refers to as the "Obama three-step", which is to "(a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy."
It is true that Obama has performed a "two-step" in front of Americans, by promising to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead then increasing military movement in Afghanistan. He also told the public he would close down the prison in Guantanamo Bay, but now is keeping it open. He swore to provide millions of new jobs, but so far has fallen short of his promise.
I am very familiar with Krauthammer's history and writings, and I think the gist of what he is saying is about Obama is incorrect. I can't see how receiving the auto and finance industry bail-out is "a bonus" as Obama continued the Bush policy of providing "bail-outs" to them. Wall Street, the auto industry and special interest unions are NOT going to let Obama & administration manage and operate their sectors. That's just not going to happen.
I also disagree with Krauthammer in that I believe it is a good idea to extend the program of Medicare to all Americans. While Medicare is administrated by the government, it is operated chiefly by private industry who still are making a fortune from it --- not as much as the private sector makes from its private plans, but not too shabby. To be a successful program, some modifications [tweaks] are needed. Paying for it will have to be from taxes, e.g., increasing the Medicare Tax on salaries by employees, have employers pay some of the taxes and provide a Medicare Fund to draw the money as needed. Nobody likes paying taxes; however, the money for health care needs to come from somewhere.
Could Obama lose in the next election? Yes, but it would depend on the results of his current efforts and who the GOP has to run against him. The fact that the current big 3 are Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney does not provide the GOP with a tangible opponent against Obama.
Will a 10-percent unemployment rate kill Obama's chances in 2012? I don't think so because it depends on what he does after that. If unemployment increases even to 12 percent at first, Obama has 3 years to bring down the numbers. By the time he runs for reelection, the unemployment issue will have passed. He is working on providing stimulus packages into the economy, but our government is set up to make changes slowly.
Consequently, the MILLION$ already approved and provided for various industries have not yet actually been dispersed to them, so the economy is getting worse. Once the monies have been received and used by the industries we will see the economy improving, but it still will be a slow improvement. While I don't agree with many of the bail-outs, these were initiated by the Bush administration and Obama has built onto them. I don't see that as "a bonus".
I think a bigger factor in the possible demise of Obama is his stance and management of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. I think his handling of all those issues can kill his chances of being reelected.
As for Krauthammer, he is a good writer but as all good writers he bends a lot of his so-called facts to underscore his opinion, which may be true or not. Let's not forget that Krauthammer was one the consultants for Bush's inauguration speech.
I also disagree with Krauthammer's perspective of how Bush will be remembered for his presidency. He says that Bush kept us safe after 9/11 for 6 1/2 years more than people thought. He also says that Bush will be remembered more for having disabled a hostile Iraq and having that nation turn from a hostile enemy into a world ally. I can see how twisted minds can do that, but in my own opinion, they would be wrong. In many ways our relationship with Iraq and the rest of the world has become more unstable, e.g., those nations I mentioned above with respect to Obama.
I know our economy and unemployment are in shaky shape, but I really believe that once the money allocated is directly injected into the economy it will turn around. It has started to stabilize already for the most part. I would like to see more of a focus on creating jobs. I have written to Obama about that. I also believe that in part unemployment and health care are the 2 top issues. Obama knows that as well. I hope he deals with these more quickly, but he also has to deal with a hostile GOP, He is trying to work with GOP party members, but there is a lot of resistance and he needs to do whatever necessary to resolve these issues more quickly --- with or without GOP support.
As for our military focus, we need to get out of the Middle East, but that won't happen. Too many corporations have invested in that area and to withdraw completely will affect their profits and our own economy again. I also don't believe that Middle East nations would sit down together at a table to iron-out their differences, although most, if not all, want the U.S. to leave.
So, while Krauthammer is indeed an intelligent and gifted writer, Americans should question many of his opinions and comments regarding Obama and Bush. As Krauthammer himself often states to others, "Don't listen to what he says, watch what he does." Readers have to make up their own minds about Krauthammer in much the same way.
Peter Stern of Driftwood, Texas, firstname.lastname@example.org>, a former director of information services, university professor and public school administrator, is a political writer well-known and published frequently throughout the Texas community and nationwide. He is a Disabled Vietnam Veteran and holds three post-graduate degrees.
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