The First Anniversary of Hope and Change

When Obama was first elected, it was argued that we needed to give him some time before criticizing too harshly.  After all, the presidency is a big job and he needed some time to grow into it.   Thus the criticism shield of the first 100 days.  Once that period passed, his supporters still called for more time.  “Bush screwed everything up so badly,” they claimed, “Obama’s still cleaning up the mess — and it’s a big one!”

A big mess it is indeed, but the time has long since come to take a serious, critical look at our current president.  Anthony Gregory presents just such an analysis, focusing on three broad policy categories.  Here’s a summary (for each factual claim, reference his original piece): 

  1. Foreign Policy — Over 100,000 troops remain in Iraq (some quick withdrawal, huh?) and the War in Afghanistan continues to escalate.  More Americans died in Afghanistan since Obama took office than did in Iraq.  Meanwhile, US drone attacks on Pakistan continue, displacing as many as 2 million.  American entanglements around the world grow, while the Defense Department budget balloons.  The focus of Obama’s foreign policy may be different than Bush’s, but its essence is the same.
  2. Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law — Trampling on the Fourth Amendment continues as Obama furthers Bush’s invasions of privacy like warrantless wiretapping on American citizens.  Gitmo remains open and doesn’t seem likely to close by the planned deadline of Jan. 22 (this Friday).  Some even claim the abuses there have worsened since Obama took office.  The Justice Department accounced that KSM would get a (show) trial in NYC, adding that if acquitted on a technicality,  he’d be indefinitely detained anyway.
  3. Obamanomics and Domestic Affairs — Promised transparency has been precious little, contrary to repeated campaign promises.  The corporate welfare of previous administrations has been glibly continued while government grossly expands at an unprecedented rate.  Unemployment rates have continued to rise, as have the budget deficit and national debt.  Proposals for universal health care are little more than further corporatism playing dress-up as populism.

As Gregory concludes, what we have experienced over the last year is not real change.  Almost all that was hated under the Bush Administration has been continued and in some cases expanded under Obama, with new deviations from just government and the Constitution thrown into the mix.  For these reasons,

[t]he answer to the Obama problem is the same as it was to the Bush problem, the Clinton problem, and the problem with every president who overstepped his bounds, waged unconstitutional wars, denied due process to suspects, violated the Fourth Amendment and spent so much as to make his predecessor look like a piker – philosophical revolution.

Philosophical revolution isn’t easy, especially in a country this large, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible…nor that we should anticipate failure in our cause.  As a Twitter friend reminded me today, “Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.”

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