Tuesday, August 28, 2012

UNFAIR CRITICISM OF THE PRESIDENT*

Photo by Catherine Vail 
        President Obama has been criticized, in my view often unfairly, for failing to keep some of his campaign promises. You will hear it at the Republican national convention. I say unfairly for three reasons. The Republicans make it sound as if he deliberately ignored his promises, as if his promises were lies, in other words. That is totally unfair. There is a huge difference between sincere but unfulfilled goals and deliberately misstated intentions.
        The second reason the criticism is unfair is that most of the blame for what has not been accomplished lies not with President but with the Republicans, who have opposed whatever he proposed. Their intention from the start was to prevent the President from succeeding. Their publicly stated goal was to make him “a one-term President.”
        So if the unemployment rate is higher than it should be, blame the Republicans who prevented passage of the American Jobs Act. If the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes, blame the Republicans who filibustered the bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class but not for those making more than $250,000 a year. If comprehensive immigration reform has not happened, blame the Senate Republicans for filibustering the Dream Act. If the Affordable Care Act has flaws in it, blame the Republicans whose proposals were incorporated in the Democrats’ compromising effort to gain bi-partisan support for the legislation. Yet even when they got what they insisted upon, the Republicans still refused to vote for a plan that would provide healthcare coverage and service for millions of hitherto uninsured Americans.
* See article entitled CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT, posted on August, 30, 2014

        The third reason it is an unfair criticism is that it ignores all that has already been accomplished during President Obama’s first term, despite the persistent opposition of the Republicans. Rather than my listing them here I suggest you do a Google search on “President Obama’s Accomplishments” and read for yourself any one of the impressive documented lists of his incredibly wide-ranging achievements. If you are not amazed, I’ll be amazed!
        A case could be made that President Obama in his first term has accomplished as much as if not more than any other President. I’m not overlooking the historic achievements of Abraham Lincoln (the Emancipation Proclamation), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the New Deal), and of other great Presidents. But none of them had to face as many different challenges at once as Barack Obama, who inherited a huge national debt, a staggering budget deficit, a collapsing financial industry, a bankrupt auto industry, dependence on foreign oil, an urgent need for immigration reform and health care reform, the sticky issue of the military's controversial "don't ask don't tell" policy, an alarmingly high unemployment rate, a stagnate housing market, a tarnished American image in the international community, an unprecedented outsourcing of jobs to China and India, and an on-going threat of international terrorism —plus two enormously costly wars!
         In addition to these inherited problems, he has been faced with the negative impact of failing European economies, the threat of rogue nations like North Korea and Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, the violent clashes between the despotic governments of several Arab nations and their citizens struggling for freedom and democracy, and here at home the disastrous effects of the increasingly violent storms resulting from climate change. He leads a nation divided by extremely controversial issues like abortion, same sex marriage, suppressive voter identification requirements and repressive public employee union measures by Republican state legislatures, and issues relating to welfare, Medicare, public education, and environmental protection (e.g., the use of  hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale, the Keystone pipeline, and off shore drilling).
        During President Obama’s first year in office the success rate for his administration’s legislative proposals was an astounding 96.7%! That was when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. When the Republicans regained control of the House, it was a different story. They were determined to see him fail.
        Given the total lack of cooperation and persistently unanimous opposition he has faced from the Republicans, it is remarkable how much President Obama has been able to accomplish in less than four years. The passage of health care reform legislation, which no other President had been able to accomplish, was a gigantic achievement. So was his economic stimulus package which has created more than four million private sector jobs. But the Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and they refuse to acknowledge the benefits of the stimulus, even when their own districts have been helped by it!
        Most Americans were excited about having elected our first African American President, and we felt sorry that he had to take office under circumstances that could have doomed any President to failure. But Barack Obama has more than met the challenge.  He has done amazingly well. He is not perfect. No one is. He has not achieved all of his goals. No fair-minded person could have reasonably expected him to. But he has done much more than his opponents give him credit for and he does not deserve the unfair and deceitfully misleading criticism he has received. He is leading the country in the right direction, and he has been a calming, reassuring influence in time of national crisis.
        I hope people will keep these things in mind, when they’re deciding for whom to vote in this election. Rabid Republicans won’t, because they are too filled with hate. But for fair-minded, truly independent voters, who genuinely care about the future of our country, it should be an easy choice. Barack Obama has proven himself to be a consistently thoughtful leader. His focus is clear. His Republican opponent, on the other hand, has shown himself to be an evasive flip-flopper.
     The metaphor that best describes the difference between the two candidates is this: Barack Obama is an arrow pointing the way. Mitt Romney is a weathervane blown by the winds of whatever audience he is appealing to at the moment.
        America needs an arrow not a weathervane in the White House*

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* See article entitled CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT posted August 29, 2014.



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