Thursday, April 23, 2009

High Marks for Obama So Far - Except on Economy

I don't mean this sarcastically, I sincerely believe that President Obama has done a very good job making important decisions and representing our country to the world. He has been everything I had hoped for, except in his handling of the economic crisis. I especially liked how he said that CIA agents who committed the legalized torture of waterboarding would not be prosecuted, but that the officials who decided this was legal might be. This should make future justice department lawyers and national security advisors think twice about returning to these practices.

If these were ordinary times, President Obama would be off to a great start. Unfortunately he has the privilege of dealing with an economic catastrophe that has been years in the making and that is different from anything we have seen before. His approach has been to try to restore the system; but this is not possible, as we have pointed out in previous posts. He has continued the bailout strategy begun by the Bush administration, when a clear-eyed reading of the situation should tell him and his economic advisors that this is just pouring money into a bottomless pit. It is clear that the economy as we knew it will fall apart without such bailouts, but it would be better to take it apart in a controlled manner instead of trying to prop it up. That economy is gone and bailouts only postpone the inevitable, and not for very long.

In fairness to Mr. Obama, he is a politician who has been elected President. You do not get a radical person elected to this office; instead they are a product of the general public will, which is not inclined to think very far outside the box. We should be glad that he does show some bold and revolutionary tendencies; his health care agenda, for example.

I believe Barack Obama does have the capacity to meet this extraordinary challenge, but it may take him a while to realize that something truly different and historic is called for. We need him to come to this place while he still has political capital and the public's trust.

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