The First 100 Days

April 29th, 2009

The Liberal Hour, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal, looks at President Obama’s first 100 days somewhat differently than the rest of the mainstream media.  Most of the media are falling all over themselves praising the President, but that’s to be expected.  They long ago abrogated their responsibility for honest, straightforward reporting and analysis. 

I don’t necessarily agree with every point made in the article, but it’s refreshing to read a responsible point of view that differs from the conformist, biased picture being painted by most of the rest of the media.

The entire editorial is worth reading, but here are the beginning and the conclusion:

Dick Cheney is often critical of President Obama, but on one issue we suspect the former Vice President has a grudging admiration: In a mere 100 days, the Democrat has silenced eight years of criticism about the Imperial Presidency. It is once again the liberal hour in American politics, and the media and political classes now see energy in the executive as a national asset.   

Though we disagree with much of Mr. Obama’s agenda, this turnaround has its benefits. A worried electorate wants to feel better about the country after the bitterness of the Bush years, and his cool confidence has lifted the public mood. He is a likable man who seems open to other arguments, even if he really isn’t. His rise to Commander in Chief has sapped the war debate of its partisan animus, and he is now responsible for success or failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has made responsible decisions on both fronts.

We have our doubts about Mr. Obama’s faith in diplomacy with enemies, but even here his first three months have had their uses. When Kim Jong Il broke his nuclear promises and tossed U.N. inspectors from North Korea in 2002, Democrats blamed President Bush. Now that Kim is doing the same despite Mr. Obama’s open handshake, we know better. Our guess is that Mr. Obama’s dalliance with Iran, Syria and other rogues will be similarly instructive, and we can hope the President draws the proper lessons before Iran goes nuclear. It’s too early to know if Mr. Obama will turn out to be a tough-minded liberal internationalist, in the Tony Blair mode, or a naive globalist, a la Jimmy Carter.

On the home front, there can no longer be any such doubts. Mr. Obama talks the language of pragmatism, but his program has revealed a man of the left. He clearly views the financial crisis and the liberal majorities in Congress as a rare chance to advance the power of the state in American life. The only two comparable moments in the last century were 1965, which gave us the Great Society, and 1933, which bequeathed the New Deal. Mr. Obama’s goals are at least as ambitious, resuming the march toward the European welfare state that was stopped by what Democrats like to call the Reagan detour. …

One lesson from the first 100 days is that the President doesn’t like to do things that are politically difficult, such as stand up to Congress. He has abdicated the writing of most legislation to liberal committee chairmen, at the cost of bipartisanship. This means that when he really needs Republicans—on trade and national security—they might not be there. And he has bent far too easily to his party’s populists on AIG bonuses, Mexican trucks and interrogation memos—even as they threaten to complicate his other priorities.

Mr. Obama is more popular than his policies, and sooner or later the twain shall meet. For now, we are living in another era of unchecked liberal government. The reckoning will come when Americans discover how much it costs.

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11 Responses to “The First 100 Days”

  1. John Q |

    Obama didn’t do everything perfect in a 100 days of course. I think he’s doing pretty well in a very hard time. Maybe if he’s a little softer and more willing to work with other leaders he can get more done that Bush did. God knows we tried it the other way it it didn’t come out so good, did it?

  2. ttmyt |

    We have a great survey on the 100 days featured this week. Maybe you could comment on our site and link to your article?

    Report Card – President Obama’s First 100 Days


  3. harry seenthing |

    wow its a greats articles my friends….im glad to be here for reading ur blog, i think a mr president is cool

  4. Kevin |

    Perfect, Obama clearly is not. Nor was any President who preceeded him or any President who holds the office in the future. But I personally consider the criticism of the WSJ editorial staff as a major endorsement of the good that President Obama is doing. If they approved then I’d be worried.

    “Liberal” is no longer the dirty word I once thought it was. Those who use it as a derogatory label, as whomever wrote this WSJ piece did, is a central part of the problem as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Tom |

    “Liberal” and “conservative” aren’t dirty words, but as they say, words have meaning. Obama is pursuing a decidedly liberal agenda, which was to be expected, but there are people in the country who disagree with much of it. Those people still have a right to express their opinions. The last paragraph of the editorial is correct—Obama is more popular right now than at least some of his policies. As those policies get closer to becoming reality, and as people become more aware of the huge costs involved and the level of taxes necessary to support them, there will undoubtedly be a negative reaction.

    Let’s hope there are always liberals and conservatives. I wouldn’t want the country to be overwhelmingly on one side or the other because that can lead you-know-where.

  6. Brian |

    Would it be too much to ask to simply have a federal government that followed the constitution? I care not a whit for liberalism or conservatism, for they both seem more interested in power than in doing only what is permitted by law.

  7. Kevin |

    I’m not sure I agree, Tom. It depends on what you mean by “conservative.”

    Here’s what I know:

    War after war after war it’s been American “conservatives” cheering the death and destruction. When Peter, Paul & Mary performed their song about the insane civil war in El Salvador, directly aided and abetted by self-proclaimed “conservative” politicians on The Hill and in the White House, there were “conservatives” picketing outside with banners insinuating that PP&M were communists for daring to give a damn about the deaths our tax dollars were underwriting. It’s been the same dynamic in virtually every war our tax dollars have underwritten since the 60s. Only a very few months and years ago we had “conservatives” using their updated version of the communist demonization – “socialist” – to describe any who questioned what were once again a bunch of self-proclaimed “conservatives” using our tax dollars to kill and maim.

    Even in these first 100 days of the Obama presidency I still see the “socialist” label used both mindlessly and with the most uncharitable of intentions. Many of whom simultaneously defend torture in absolute defiance of everything this country was built upon.

    So, no… I’m not at all sure that “conservative” isn’t, in fact, a very dirty word. It all depends on what you mean by “conservative”.

  8. Anonymous |

    How conveniently the left overlooks the maiming and killing committed by the Marxist/Socialist Sandinistas. Where was the left’s outrage against them? Where was the lefty outrage anywhere in this country against the Sandinistas? Or how about the brutal repression of Fidel against Cuba? Batista’s regime was a casual stroll through the park compared to Castro’s.

    Where was the lefty outrage in this country when Chairman Mao was “re-educating” his people to death during the Great Leap Forward? Estimates for the death toll in the 60s alone in China are about 20 million. As I recall, the 2-3000 killed at Tiananmen Square (irony of ironies – Tiananmen means “gateway to heavenly peace”) didn’t draw much outrage from the left, either.

    Where was the lefty outrage with Pol Pot and his “killing fields”?

    Where is the lefty outrage today regarding Stalin’s starving as many as 10 million Ukrainians to death in 1932/33? There is no end to the justifiable excoriation of what Hitler did, but only crickets when Stalin/Lenin/Kruschev et al are mentioned? Or Stalin’s pogroms against Russian Jewery in the late 1920s? Nevermind the atrocious Gulag Archipeligo that was at least as bad as anything Hitler or the Catholic Church of the 16th Century ever dreamed of, let alone accomplished. Estimates of the leftist holocaust during the time of Stalin are 10s of millions.

    No, the silence of the left when it comes to leftist atrocities is quite deafening. Tyrants of rightist regimes are mere pikers by way of comparison to those of the left. The selective moral outrage of the left is duly noted, and the one thing that completely escapes your notice in particular about tyrannies of any stripe is the existence of overwhelming governmental power, power for which you seem largely to be an apologist.

    By the way, it was Truman (D) that got us into Korea. It was the dishonesty of two very liberal democrat administrations (Woodrow Wilson and FDR) that laid the groundwork for our involvement in Vietnam. Then, it was the very liberal LBJ administration that ramped up Vietnam on what has since been discovered to be a monstrous lie – the Gulf of Tonkin Inident. Yet it seems to be Nixon (for whom I hold no particular fondness, either) that receives all of the blame. Vietnam cost us nearly 60K kia, and another 200K or so casualties. But Vietnam cost the Vietnamese people perhaps as many as 3 million KIA during our involvement.

    Marxism and Fascism together account for well over 100,000,000 deaths in the space of maybe 40 or 50 years, and Marxist/Leftist regimes are responsible for a majority of that. The poor soul rotting away in Dachau and the poor soul executed in Beijing for “political crimes” probably care little about the ideology of his tormentor, but what he understands with perfect clarity is that his malefactor has far too much power.

    It would be wonderful if the left were capable of directing its vitriol at something other than exclusively the right, and direct it at tyrants and their Quislings of all stripes. Those that seek power do so at our expense, for they seek to be our masters. They offer us freedom, a Kafka-esque freedom of pacing to and fro in our cages.

    I cannot emphasize it enough: powerful government is the enemy of all mankind. It has always been so.

  9. Kevin |

    In fact the left hasn’t overlooked the killing/maiming by any quarter. Indeed the North Korean Gulags were widely cited when Dear Leader Dubya and his sycophants were pontificating about how Saddam treated his citizens was such a great reason to squander vast sums of taxpayer dollars and soldiers blood. As bad as many Iraqis had it under Saddam, it was arguably a far cry from what North Koreans endure.

    What’s instructive is how whack-job conservatives selectively trot out their faux outrage over totalitarian regimes. Sandanistas get trotted out here but the Contra butchers on the other side of that conflict are strangely omitted. If “anonymous” truly gave a flying rat’s backside about butchery then there wouldn’t be the selective citations we can all see above. But of course it is obvious that butchery in opposition to “the left” is just fine and dandy with many conservatives. We’ve seen the same thing all over Central and South America.

  10. Kevin |

    Although at the time I still self-identified as a centerist, and thus, strictly speaking, it wasn’t the writing of a self-identified leftist, I wrote this about North Korea/Iraq/Dear Leader Dubya within days of Saddam’s capture in December of 2003.

  11. Tom |

    Kevin, your 2003 piece is well-written and interesting; I hadn’t read it before. On many points, however, I think it’s either factually wrong or ideology-driven.

    You seem to believe that Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld, et al. simply lied, blatantly and with full intent to mislead. That’s plainly wrong. From 1998 to 2003, the intelligence services of every serious country, including ours, assessed the situation regarding Iraq as it was presented by the U.S. government. Leading worthies of both political parties, including Kennedy, Kerry, Clinton, etc, all expressed virtually the same opinion regarding Iraq. They may have all been wrong, but they weren’t lying.

    You promote the conspiracy-theorist’s view that Bush & Co did it all for oil, under the evil influence of the monster Cheney. Nonsense, and subsequent events have proven as much.

    You exaggerated the North Korean threat, although it’s real enough. All those inflated future missile ranges, for example; they recently tried one, at much shorter range, and it was a flop. So much for that. And strategically, Iraq and its region are, in fact, more significant to the U.S. than North Korea. Another very important consideration is the presence of significant major powers in the region, such as China and Japan, who can act with us and consistent with our interests to address the North Korea problem.

    The U.S. military performance in taking down the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was superb, as was to be expected. That’s what “Mission Accomplished” referred to. The second phase, if you will, was a weird mix of diplomacy, administration, and military operations, and it was a mess for a long time. The surge has worked very well, and there’s at least some chance of things being reasonably on track as U.S. combat operations come to an end. Whether the Iraqis can keep their own train on the tracks is an open question, and I have serious doubts about that.

    There are plenty of reasons to criticize what happened in Iraq, including why we did it, and I join in some of those criticisms. But when everything is viewed from a biased, agenda-driven perspective, it’s difficult to present a rational critique.

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