06 December 2009

The "Done Nothing" Accusations Thrown at Obama

Obama has done nothing. Of course it has not yet been a year, but he has no accomplishments to point to except some arguments about how job loss would have been worse without his stimulus package (a package that included financial industry bailouts that began with the Bush administration).

The truth is, we don't know what Obama has accomplished. Or, rather, won't for some time. And simply judging from my own experience of life, I am actually assured by his apparent lack of progress. For now.

I've been blogging less and reading others' blogs less. The reason for this is simply that I've been diverting my writing energy into a bigger project. For now, it would seem obvious that I'm doing less. I'm not. But what I'm doing is higher risk. No one else may ever see it and it may amount to nothing.

I don't fool myself about my blog postings having any impact, but it is gratifying to hit the "publish post" button and have "done" something. I quite like that. The posts may have little or no consequence but my accomplishments seems obvious.

By contrast, the writing project I've been working on is far less likely to be published and even if it does, it is unlikely to have much more impact than my posts. I am doing something - more, even, then when I was at my peak of blogging. But there is little to report. I'm just working on the project. And will be for months - maybe a year. It doesn't sound very exciting but completing this project will be more exciting than anything I've done in the last decade or two. And it has the potential to have much more impact than the hundred-some posts I could publish in the same time. It will, in any event, be more consequential than a string of unrelated posts. For reasons like this, I believe that invisible progress is often the best progress.

So let's return to our president. He could do things to keep the 24-hour news channels happy, the equivalent of presidential blogging. Lots of little publicity opportunities, legislative initiatives and the like that generate news but probably won't change history.

Or he could take a big risk and put himself into a project like health care reform. He may not get legislation passed. Or it may be bad legislation. This is very high risk. But IF he succeeds, when history is written this will be an accomplishment as big as or bigger than that of any president in decades.

I have found that there is a negative correlation between how much I'm doing in any given week and what I can report at the end of the year. The projects that are worth talking about are few and take a long time. By contrast, if I "stay busy" I seem to inevitably wonder what it was I did later. Things that can be done quickly are generally disposable.

In a similar way, Obama's project is something that will look better at the end of his term than it does on any given news cycle. He's trying to do something big. To judge what he's done now is like a father grousing about how his son - in his second year at university - sure hasn't made as much money as the neighbor's kid who went right into landscaping. You've already given the man four years. Let him use it.


Jen said...

He stays plenty busy, in my opinion. He seems to have more photo ops and press conferences than recent administrations, yet says very little that is newsworthy. He gives 'shout outs' to his homies when he's addressing a crowd that has gathered to hear about the 31 murdered soldiers at Ft. Hood. He's incredibly busy bolstering his image. And it's working. Preschool kids all over our nation recognize his face, thanks to the iconic images plastered onto our collective subconscious.

Now, just what it is that he's REALLY accomplishing? I truly don't know. He seems to have very little conviction of his own. He's charismatic and when he speaks he can convince nearly anyone that he's got BIG goals and CHANGES in mind. But........

Healthcare. Yeah, I just wish he'd conferred with our friends the Aussies (who are now trying to repeal their socialized healthcare system) before launching this big, new change. We'll leave that chore for our grandkids roughly 30 years from now. No biggie.

Good luck on your book, Ron! Your blog posts do have an impact. I always find myself considering other views, sometimes change mine, usually feel galvanized ;0), but always appreciate the sharing of ideas.

Anonymous said...

The less anyone does in Government, especially this guy, the better.

Lifehiker said...

Our country does well with problems only if they present an emergency - and even then our process takes time.

I'm still a big Obama supporter, not for what he's done but for what he's doing. His process for working issues makes sense,and he's hired a lot of good people.

The real culprits in our national malaise are the people we elect to local, state, and national office. There are far better people than our professional politicians, but we allow a process that shuts them out: we have closed "party" system and we don't pay enough to attract the best and brightest.

Obama represents the first of the type I'd like to see a lot more of, but our system ties one hand behind his back.

And, Ron, best of luck with your project. I have a feeling you are being too modest about its prospects.

Ron Davison said...

it is true that the man has lots of public appearances which is a good thing for a public servant, even if (as you say) it has the potential to be more than a little distracting.

LH and Jen - thanks for the warm wishes on the book. This is not modesty, LH. I've been beaten by this project before.

Daryl said...

Good luck on the big project, I think I know what it is! I for one am thrilled. The less the government does the better.

David said...

Total BS Ron. He's done plenty and I'm judging him now just the way GWB was judged from the start. We don't need a clueless POTUS staying "busy." This guy plays it by ear except on his ideology, which he denied having when he ran. Today he met with the "fat cats" he indicted yesterday. They react to him like everyone else in the world does and that is, "we'll listen or say something you want to hear and then do what we want." In RAND terms, he lacks clout. In Davos terms, he lacks substance. Nevertheless I fear him. Keep defending him Ron-O. "There's Always Something There To Remind (You)."

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