Infatuated with Obama

June 1st, 2009

As I’ve said before, I think President Obama is a smart guy who can evolve into a good president, once he gains some experience in the job.  I want him to succeed, although I don’t want to see some of his policies successfully implemented.  That isn’t contradictory.  Good presidents often don’t get everything they want, given the checks and balances represented by Congress and the judiciary.  The press is supposed to be part of that process, but so far they aren’t doing a very good job.

Although some media sources are more likely to question Obama’s programs and policies than others, a large majority of them are clearly aswoon.  The press demands special access and special privileges under the law because they, along with most of us, see themselves as the external watchdog of government.  It’s time for them to start doing their jobs.

In The Obama Infatuation, Robert J. Samuelson addresses the failure of the press to critically examine and report on the Obama Administration during its early days:

Our political system works best when a president faces checks on his power. But the main checks on Obama are modest. They come from congressional Democrats, who largely share his goals if not always his means. The leaderless and confused Republicans don’t provide effective opposition. And the press — on domestic, if not foreign, policy — has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.

Obama has inspired a collective fawning. What started in the campaign (the chief victim was Hillary Clinton, not John McCain) has continued, as a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows. It concludes: “President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House.” …

The infatuation matters because Obama’s ambitions are so grand. He wants to expand health-care subsidies, tightly control energy use and overhaul immigration. He envisions the greatest growth of government since Lyndon Johnson. The Congressional Budget Office estimates federal spending in 2019 at nearly 25 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). That’s well up from the 21 percent in 2008, and far above the post-World War II average; it would also occur before many baby boomers retire. …

Obama’s rhetoric brims with inconsistencies. In the campaign, he claimed he would de-emphasize partisanship — and also enact a highly partisan agenda; both couldn’t be true. He got a pass. Now, he claims he will control health-care spending even though he proposes more government spending. He promotes “fiscal responsibility” when projections show huge and continuous budget deficits. Journalists seem to take his pronouncements at face value even when many are two-faced. …

Perhaps the preoccupation with the present economic crisis has diverted attention from the long-term implications of other policies. But the deeper explanation may be as straightforward as this: Most journalists like Obama; they admire his command of language; he’s a relief after Bush; they agree with his agenda (so it never occurs to them to question basic premises); and they don’t want to see the first African American president fail.

Whatever, a great edifice of government may arise on the narrow foundation of Obama’s personal popularity. Another Pew survey shows that since the election the numbers of both self-identified Republicans and Democrats have declined. “Independents” have increased, and “there has been no consistent movement away from conservatism, nor a shift toward liberalism.”

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6 Responses to “Infatuated with Obama”

  1. Robert |

    The trouble with the “checks and balances” that you talked about, they are all but non existent now because the Democrats have what they keep crowing about. A filibuster proof majority. That effectively gets rid of the checks and balances that is supposed to save our government. Obama right now is just like a kid in a candy store for the first time with money. He is totally out of control and he needs to be stopped. Soon before he destroys this country financially. He has already ruined the financial life of babies that are not yet born.

  2. Kevin |

    Ain’t democracy a beach. Dems have the majority that they have because the American people choose to give it to them after 8 years of WMD, Terrie Schiavo, Scooter Libby, etc.

    These things simply do not happen in a vacuum.

    FWIW, I really don’t believe that it’s about Democrats being so terribly popular as it is the American people just being sick and tired of the direction George Bush, Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay were taking the country. They wanted a change of direction and voted accordingly.

  3. Harvey |

    You’re both right! There are now no checks and balances because the people were (rightly or wrongly) simply sick and tired of Republicans.

    But what amazes me is that the majority of voters voted for and elected a man who promised them socialism — not in those words but it was clear to anyone who was listening that that was the direction he wanted to take the country. Now he’s keeping his promises! Today (literally) a big chunk of the auto industry was nationalized, ‘tomorrow’ it’ll almost certainly be the healthcare industry and, perhaps, the ‘next day’ the schools or those newspapers and TV stations that are falling on hard times (at least the ones who are not critical of him).

    Yes Robert, he does need to be stopped! I don’t know how or when but it will hopefully happen before he does permanent damage to this country. Perhaps people will eventually open their eyes.

    Most of the people who voted for Obama were overwhelmed by the freebees he promised and the word pictures he painted so eloquently but as time goes on, perhaps they will see that an Obama promise is worth nothing and perhaps they will begin to understand the ultimate destination of the Obama Express. At least I hope so!

  4. Tom |

    Robert and Harvey, I think you guys are a bit overboard. Obama didn’t promise socialism and, far as I can tell, wouldn’t want it if he could deliver it. In any case, he could never move that far left. Listen to what he says about the auto industry specifically — he doesn’t want to run it, and he wants to get the government out of if as soon as possible, hopefully with some return on the taxpayers’ investment.

    As I’ve said before, Obama and the Democrats who control Congress are liberals. That means they have a certain worldview, and the people gave them a chance to try it their way. There are also still checks and balances — Obama won’t get everything he wants from Congress, as evidenced by recent events. The courts will also limit excesses, like happened to FDR. He also won’t push things beyond reasonable limits because he wants to be re-elected and he wants his party to stay in power.

    If you think government by liberal Democrats is the wrong way to go, then vote them out the next time around. If the Republican Party is too weak to get it done, and the majority of the people don’t want to return to the Republicans…well, as Kevin said, “ain’t democracy a beach!”

  5. Harvey |


    I’m glad I don’t have your optimism about Obama — I prefer: a healthy, wide-eyed skepticism; a belief in my gut feelings about the man, and a belief in what I heard with my own ears when he was campaigning.

    He promised nationalized health coverage — to me that’s a big step toward socialism. He promised to “start letting our unions do what they do best again – organize our workers and lift up our middle-class.” I don’t know how putting workers under the thumb of union bosses lifts up the middle class but the “card Check” program that he is pushing will certainly give the unions the ability to do what they do best — intimidate workers. Note that it is the government that is giving the power to the unions, not the workers. I don’t want to get into an entire blog post here but the bottom line is I feel that Obama want’s to make the government all powerful and that’s certainly not an idea that should thrive here in the U.S.A..

    If you haven’t heard it yet, listen to his words in a 2001 Public Radio interview where the man Obama (not the presidential campaigner but the Senator from Illinois) speaks of Redistribution of wealth and economic justice — I certainly see those two concepts as the antithesis of a free Democratic Republic, even if no one else does.

  6. Tom |

    I’m not overly optimistic about Obama. I’m still concerned about his lack of experience, which I think explains his rather naive approach to foreign policy, his overreaching on domestic policy, and gaffes like using politically-charged words such as “redistribution.” I think he’ll learn as time goes on and political reality keeps slapping him in the face, and I hope he learns fast.

    As far as unions are concerned, I come from a strong union family. As a teenager working on pipeline construction, I was a member of the pipefitter’s union. I saw unions do a lot for working people, and they generally play a positive role in our political and economic system. The UAW no doubt played a role in the troubles of the auto industry, but let’s not forget that the companies signed the contracts because they thought it was in their interest to do so. As far as “card check” is concerned, I think it’s a bad idea, but it’s part of the political give-and-take. If we don’t like it, we can urge our representatives to vote it down. That’s the way things work.

    I didn’t like it when liberals went way over the top in their attacks on George Bush, and I’m equally uncomfortable with some of the conservative attacks we’re seeing on Obama. He’s the only president we have, and he deserves respect and the presumption that he’s trying to do what’s best for the country, even though we may not always agree with him.

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