Thursday, December 17, 2009

What grade would I give Obama?

Famously, Barack Obama has given himself a B+ for his first year in office. Which probably tells you more about grade inflation in American academia than it does presidential performance, but we're getting ahead of ourselves...

What grade would I give Obama? A 'C'.

Obama has not been as bad in many ways as I thought he would. As far as his national security policy, most of what he has done is identical, if not slightly more robust than George W Bush. Drone attacks on Al Qaeda in Pakistan have actually increased under Obama. Rendition is still in place. Gitmo is still open. The Homeland Security department protocols have not been weakened. Thirty thousand new troops are going to Afghanistan. Despite first appearances, the concession about anti-missile missiles in Poland and Czech republic are actually small ones, and the same missiles will in all probability end up on ships rather than land.

Most of the cosying up to dictatorships and criminal states has been trivial and cosmetic, and although ill-advised leaves no long term disbenefits. And in at least the cases of Honduras and Iran, stupid initial policies have been quietly reversed to coincide with what Bush would have done/actually did in the same circumstances. In particular, US recognition of the results of the Honduran elections coming up shortly is a kick in the face for the Bolivarian gang led by Hugo Chavez. Chavez has already changed his tune about Obama, unsurprisingly.

Cap and Trade has stalled in the Senate, probably forever. Health care ditto. Nothing has been attempted regarding an amnesty for illegal immigrants. So on many of the big issues, so far Obama has done no harm.

The bailouts were basically a Bush policy, continued (ill-advisedly in my view) by Obama. So was the Stimulus, sadly.

So overall, I'd have to say that a grade of 'C' would be warranted. Nothing great, but nothing disastrous. Had Cap and Trade and socialised medicine passed successfully through congress, that grade would have changed radically. Both pieces of legislation would have marked a serious deterioration in American public policy. But they didn't, so they don't.

It seems that the system devised by the founding fathers and established by the constitution is capable of heading off many of the worst stupidities of any generations 'brilliant minds'. Thank the Lord!

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