10 November 2010

The Big Question About Obama

The big question about Obama is simply this: is he as good a president as Bush was bad?

Bush left the country two difficult to extract from occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a structural deficit that is the largest in history (meaning, even running at full employment, the government budget is structured to be in deficit), and cut long-term investments in infrastructure. He was the first president in history to start two major wars while cutting taxes. While I don't think that Bush is to blame for 9-11 or the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression, he obviously was unable to detect and stop these threats in time. Additionally, the man undermined progress on fighting climate change and attacked rights to privacy and due process. How bad was he? It would take any president years to undo the damage he'd done.

So now in order to be considered good, Obama has to reverse Bush's atrocious fiscal policies AND environmental policies AND extract American troops from two occupations. This just to get to zero.

Just to preempt his critics. yes, Obama did run for office fully aware of these challenges. JFK was quoted as saying that what most surprised him was that when he got into office he learned that things were, indeed, as bad as he had been saying while campaigning.

Obama can't just stand atop his own achievements at the bottom of the hole that Bush has dug. He has to be good enough to fill Bush's hole AND build something more atop that. Personally, I think that Obama is a good president. It is not yet obvious, though, that he's as good as Bush was bad.


Anonymous said...

Comparing Bush to Obama is like comparing apples to apples.

Ron Davison said...

Thomas - I'm curious. Which issue(s) matter and which don't that you'd just lump these two together? Bush started two wars; Obama started healthcare. Bush cut taxes to the top 2%; Obama wants to raise taxes to the top 2%. Bush gutted climate change legislation; Obama is ... well, it does seem to me that there's a difference. Obviously to you it doesn't because these issues don't matter. So, which ones do? (And no, I'm not saying this to be contentious - I'm asking out of genuine curiosity.) Thanks.

nunya said...

They say history is written by the victors. If the latest victors have their way, future generations may not even be able to read history.

Damon said...

I get your points here and respect them to a degree. Bush will never be accused of being the Presidential Best in Show. But I have to say this: Obama is and will be crushed by the weight of the expectations he extolled. (as you've noted before)

I suspect our President might start playing nicer with the other side of the isle this next two years. Government spending will drop and consumer confidence will slowly begin to rise as well as overall satisfaction in government. Why so optimistic? I really believe that when congress is divided a lot more progress ensues.

David said...

It won't surprise you to learn that I find Obama to be far worse than Bush although the latter was surely bad when it came to spending excesses, of course with democratic and republican legislative support - always.

Bush set the Iraq withdrawal date and remaining in Afghanistan is O's choice as is his far more reckless spending and fiscal irresponsibility.

When it comes to dealing with foreign countries, allies and potential enemies, it is truly "apples and oranges" as Obama has failed to persuade nearly everywhere. His G-20 rejection is but one indication of bad policies and perhaps bad breath.

"He hasn't had time to climb out of the ditch" is a to be expected rationalization. He's digging his own ditch and deeper one for the US at that. Pelosi lied about wanting to get us out and now we'll see if the republicans can begin to keep a promise.

Let's see where we are this time next year. Happy holidays.