One thing I’ve noticed in the world of politics is that people tend to make a lot of hyperbolic statements. It’s not enough to say you’re for or against something, you have to absolutely love something, or be vehemently against it.
This isn’t me talking down to everyone from my high horse, because I’ve done this myself. I say this because when people give their take on Obama’s first year in office, exaggeration is everywhere. Some people say that he is America’s messiah. Others need to call him a Kenyan Nazi who worships the devil. I’ll try not to do either; I’ll just offer a measured reaction to Obama’s first year in office.
My verdict is this: he hasn’t done anything spectacular, and he hasn’t done anything horrific. I’m not really surprised by this. You couldn’t reasonably expect Obama to bring sweeping change to America in his first year. Nothing moves quickly in politics. Remember, it took 90 years after the Declaration of Independence to abolish slavery.
An excellent example is the health care fiasco. In retrospect, I think that Obama and the Democrats were a little naïve in thinking that members of Congress would put aside their loyalty to party lines, realize that the health care bill was essential and support it. The health care situation brings up two of Obama’s biggest setbacks during his first year.
The first problem is the Democratic party and the fact that they, to put it simply, suck. The Democrats aren’t doing much to dispel the stereotype that they are afraid to get their hands dirty to get things done. They lost a Senate seat in Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the country, to Republican Scott Brown, who posed nude for Cosmopolitan in 1982.
I’ve got to say, as insane as the Republicans are now, at least when they want something done they do whatever they can to accomplish it. They keep talking about how great it is to have a super-majority in Congress, but they’ve squandered it because not everyone in the Democratic party is ever on the same page.
The second problem with Obama is that he can be too pragmatic. I understand that idealism and naivete sometimes go hand-in-hand, but idealism is also necessary to move the country ahead on certain issues. It worked with slavery, women’s suffrage and segregation. It needs to be implemented if we want health care reform. But Obama keeps trying to compromise with the opposition on key issues. He needs to realize that he can’t make everyone happy. He needs to realize that you can’t make bipartisanship happen out of nothing. It’s like a relationship. Some people just can’t be together if they aren’t meant to coexist with each other. You can’t force a connection.
The same thing applies in politics. Obama is always going to have people who hate him, and he needs to come out and say, "I’m the President, this is what I want done, and if you’re not on board, then get out of the way." I know this is wishful thinking and will never happen in a million years, but if you want to bring real change to our government, there’s no time for compromise. You aren’t bringing change if you willingly handcuff yourself to the same old political practices that have not worked in the past.
During the State of the Union last week, Obama told the Democrats that they can’t "run for the hills" when they face resistance. To me, he felt as frustrated with them just as much as I am with Nancy Pelosi. If he wants to have a successful presidency, he needs stop pandering and start being more assertive, without taking it to the extremes that George Bush and Dick Cheney did.
Last week’s Q&A session with Republican leaders, where Obama went into attack mode and brilliantly shot down some of their arguments was a step in the right direction. It was so bad, Fox News refused to air the entire thing. Nice job, cowards. A president standing up to his party, ending dispelling pre-conceived notions about said party, and fighting for what the people want from their leaders? Now that would be change we can believe in.