A Philosopher's Blog

Obama’s Downturn

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 23, 2010
Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

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Obama came into office riding a wave of hope about change. Now that he has been in office for a while, the big change seems to be a loss of hope.

While the Obama administration managed to succeed in the health care matter, there seem to be few other clear victories. One aspect of the problem is that much of what he has done was focused on damage control in regards to the economy and handling the two wars that he inherited. In the case of the economy, his efforts probably helped prevent something significantly worse. However, telling people “hey, it could be a lot worse” generally does not win them over or make them glow with positive feelings. What people focus on is not how much worse it could have been, but how bad it is and that they want it to be much better. While the Republicans have worked hard to foster this perception, the folks in the Obama administration have failed to fight an effective propaganda war. More importantly, while the big companies are growing fat once more, “main street” Americans are still facing high unemployment and other economic woes that were largely created by the companies that are doing quite well now. Obama and his fellows seem to be unable to solve this problem.

Obama and his administration are also the target of a massive propaganda effort on the part of pundits like Rush and Beck. He is also the prime target of Fox News. While the rest of the media is supposed to be liberally biased, they seem to be quite willing to criticize him now.  This, of course, does not help Obama. The administration seems to have lost the old Obama magic that enabled him to charm (or, some might say, dominate) many folks in the media. Now, it would seem, he is just another President.

Obama has also been hampered by Congress. While his party is in charge, the Democrats are…well, Democrats. While comedians such as Jon Stewart like to make fun of the Democrats ability to screw themselves, much of the mocking is grounded in solid facts. To use a specific example, Obama promised that he would get “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed. While most Americans favor his plan, the attempt to repeal it failed in an orgy of political bickering. This makes the administration look ineffective and also makes congress look even worse.

I think some of the problems Obama is having can also be attributed to his lack of experience as well as his character. He does not seem inclined, as of yet, to do the sort of things that are needed to actually get things done in the fetid swamp that is Washington. He also seems unable to herd the Democrats (to be fair, that is harder than herding drunken cats), keep the confidence of those who believed in him, and effectively fight against the Republicans and their media allies.

Obama still has time to turn things around. Of course, he also has the time to win the undesirable title of Carter The Second.

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20 Responses

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  1. She.Is.Just.A.Rat said, on September 24, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    It’s appreciated that you pointed out the obvious, but often overlooked in your statement “What people focus on is not how much worse it could have been, but how bad it is and that they want it to be much better.” It’s a shame that people have selective memories when it comes to politics. And that the Obama administration’s own party are essentially leaving them out to dry.

  2. kernunos said, on September 24, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    “In the case of the economy, his efforts probably helped prevent something significantly worse.” – Can you prove this? What is your statement based on? I bet you cannot.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2010 at 11:26 am

      I have to go with the economic experts here. But, I must stick with my “probably” qualifier since we are, after all, talking about a field with considerable dissent. Proving a counterfactual can be a rather hard thing.

      • magus71 said, on September 26, 2010 at 7:16 am

        The economic experts cannot say for sure what affect the bailout will have on future behavior. Though common sense would tell us.

        I have a difficult time believing that Obama’s hodge-podge financial policies are not contributinig to the unemployment rate. And I absolutely know they contributed to the deficit.

        Just blame Bush. Even though the recession, by the government’s own admission, ended in June of 2009, where is the progress? Threatening to get rid of tax cuts, heaping on regulations and spending more on bailouts than both wars combined doesn’t seem like a real good plan that would have invoked Obama votes had people known beforehand.

        Unfortunately for America, we listened to Oprah. Even if Obama was the greatest thing since flushing toilets, how could anyone have actually shown evidence of his greatness given that he had so little a sample of actualy work?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2010 at 10:44 am

          His current policies do not seem to be helping individuals enough. Of course, some of the fault lies with companies-even those that are posting record profits or are at least flush with cash are not hiring. So, while the stimulus helped them get fat, they seem loath to share their return to financial plumpness.

          • WTP said, on September 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

            The purpose of a business is to make profits for owners by offering products to customers at prices that they are willing to pay. A business does not exist for the purpose of employing people.

            Businesses are not expanding because they are uncertain about the future just like everyone else. Given the recent financial crisis, it is perfectly reasonable for a business to take the approach that credit may not be readily available in the short or near-long term, thus they need to be their own banks, so to speak, by having cash on hand to get through difficult times. Once businesses have sufficient funds to feel comfortable to grow, they will do so. And if they don’t grow, their competition will and take away their market share.

            Also note, if one is concerned about employees, part of the reason for holding on to cash is to be able to continue to pay one’s current employees through difficult times when revenue isn’t coming in. Businesses are run by people. Bosses do not like telling good employees that they have to let them go. Especially at times like this when pretty much all of the dead wood has already been cut.

      • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm

        Which economic experts? I hear Obama say things like ‘All economic experts agree….’ but I have no idea who he means as all ‘blank’ of anything never agree. The only widespread agreement I find is that the stimulus made the economy more stable short term. The disagreement comes long term and on the ethics of bailing out companies that should or should not been allowed to fail. One thing is for certain and I don’t need experts to back it up. Government debt has always been bad for the economy and we have a record high amount of it now. It is also not hard to prve that too much spending/debt and deficit are bad things. It is not hard to show that there is a point that can be reached of debt to GDP ratio and if that line is passed then debt becomes too large to pay for. We are nearing that line. This is simple math. hard to debate math.

        • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm

          Many experts also say that the stimulus bill will make the economic downturn stick around for a long time, maybe 10-20 years because the market was not able to right itself. Huge government spending means that the people are going to have to pay it back and then some which means less expendable income. It is like taking out a small business loan to make payroll as Obama suggested businesses do. This just delays the inevitable and makes the end bill worse while not fixing the reason you have to make payroll with a loan. This must be the experts you mentioned that suggested he make such a rediculous statement.

        • magus71 said, on September 28, 2010 at 5:45 am

          They’re doing the exact same thing they did with global warming; claim a concensus and hope no one looks behind the curtain.

    • kernunos said, on September 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      “In the case of the economy, his efforts probably helped prevent something significantly worse.” Too much debt can be significantly worse than a “what if”. I still stand by letting the corporations fail that were too risky and just plain badly managed. that is the only way the free market works in an effective way and the only way it will right itself in the quickest manner. Manipulating the free market with bad housing loan practices by the government is what got us into this mess. We are supposed to rely on the government to get us out?

  3. kernunos said, on September 24, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “While the Obama administration managed to succeed in the health care matter, there seem to be few other clear victories.” – Victory for Obama but a loss for the people. healthcare will cost more. Freedoms lost and I bet a fresh round of imposing regulations to curb free but risky behavior.

  4. a10princeps said, on September 24, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Personally, I can’t help but feel a lack of motivation for change, most likely because President Obama has had some great tasks to deal with. While I can understand this, it still does not explain what appears to be a complete lack of willpower to expand freedom to a greater number of Americans through things such as the repeal of DADT. I feel that a much better job can be done. But hey, I’m sure our list of complaints would be quite a sight longer had John McCain been elected.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

      Agreed. I think Obama is doing better than McCain would have done (although the “Old” McCain seemed like a good sort).

  5. magus71 said, on September 26, 2010 at 7:04 am

    “While most Americans favor his plan, the attempt to repeal it failed in an orgy of political bickering. This makes the administration look ineffective and also makes congress look even worse.”

    This is not at the top of most American’s list of important things.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Didn’t say it was. Just that most people favor it. However, it is essentially a free fix to a social injustice, so it seems worth the effort to get it done.

    • magus71 said, on October 1, 2010 at 11:41 pm

      It has almost nothing to do with his perceived failure. It’s the economy, something that Dems never get. They can’t just leave it alone. They always have to tinker in order to tame the big, evil businesses. But I’ve never been employed by a poor person.

      Mike, be clear. You are critical of the Republicans for not holding to their touted conservative values, yet you barely mention the galactic sized spending spree that Obama went on. Conservatism is of course, a relative term. Obama has made Bush look very conservative.

      So, since you’re critical of Bush for not being a “real” conservative, am I to assume that you support conservative values? If you can be critical for Republicans not being conservative, I assume you consider being a conservative to be a positive trait. Yet, your rhetoric has never really supported that you support conservatism. On virtually every real issue, you’re a liberal.

      So, my interpretation is that you just want to be critical of the politicians whom you don’t agree with, and hope to dissuade future voters from voting for Republicans by making them believe that these candidtaes aren’t really as conservative as they claim. And then you also hint that Obama is really a conservative by constantly arguing that he doesn’t have an ultra-left agenda. When in fact, the biggest problems you have with him is the fact that he has not been liberal enough.

      What are your real views?

  6. qupidsmuse said, on September 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I think he’s dealing with too many things all at once–don’t gimmie that, “well he’s the president.” Things are really messed up, and some of the reasons “Main Street” is not seeing significant change in front of their eyes is because a ton of their money was spent on Wall Street. I’m not going to be the one to argue that Wall Street could’ve come up with more creative ways to handle things because if the bailout was not the best way then I don’t believe it would have been put into effect.

  7. David said, on September 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Question: Are drunken cats more difficult to herd that sober cats? I would have thought the opposite – just an intuition.

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