Obama’s performance to date: C+; your grade?

by Joel on February 25, 2009

My assessment of Barck Obama’s performance to date must be seen in the light that not only did I vote for him this past fall, but also supported him through the primary process and monetarily contributed to his campaign. My grade for him must be seen through the lens of pre-grade inflation days in the United States, where a C+ is “above average” with several members of a “class” receiving D’s and F’s. In modern American schools, a C+ would often place someone in the “below average” category.

I invite others to grade Obama’s performance, but also to do so in the context both of a “C” being an average grade and whether or not you voted for Obama or might have done so had you been an American citizen.

It should be noted that school teachers in my pre-college days gave out grades using a number of methods. Some used a “curve” based on how performance was distributed in that particular class. Others measured against the expected performance of a larger group, be that students in the whole school and not just that individual class, or be that past performance of classes across the state or across the country. A grade assessment by someone who supported Obama’s election, then, almost certainly must be seen in a context different than of someone who supported John McCain or an independent or “third party” candidate in November 2008. Someone who steadfastly opposes, on principle or related to ideology, government intervention in the economy might give Obama an “F” regardless of intentions or expected result.

As well, it is mighty early to assess a president’s performance in office. That fact almost deterred me from writing this post. On the other hand, this post can be run again in a year or two to present a larger picture and allows me or others to give early warnings if policies seem to be starting out wrong.

My breakdown:

The Economy: B-

As someone cautious about government intervention in the economy but who also sees these as extraordinary times, I support the principle of a stimulus bill. Deregulation with little oversight of finances and trading operations must cease.

My objections: (1) I do not favor government ownership of banks in whole or part over the long run; (2) there is too much in the stimulus bill included to appease inidividual senators or representatives (”pork”); (3) not enough oversight to deter waste and abuse; (4) far too little spending on infrastructure (roads, bridges, electrical systems, etc.); and (5) the failure to use the stimulus bill to force stimulus funds-receiving banks and lending institutions to abandon the charging of usurious interests rates on credit cards. I’ll even be generous in allowing for a compromise, and that is that for “risky” accounts nevertheless paid on time and not over the credit limit, that banks receiving federal assistance may charge up to 14% interest and that for delinquent accounts (payment deadline missed twice or more in a six month period) banks and lending institutions may charge up to 19% interest; if that isn’t enough, the banks should cancel the cards. Currently, there are charges as much as 24% interest on accounts that are not delinquent or over-the-limit and as much as 36% interest for delinquent accounts. These latter charges are abusive and not in keeping with the ideal of forming a “more perfect union.”

Military: (C-)

Compared to prior administrations, Obama appears less eager to use the military in “nation building” — something George Bush objected to when he ran for president in 2000, but later enthusiastically embraced as a cornerstone of his policies. Statements related to the closing of Gitmo, affording of legal process to detainees, and adherence to Geneva Convention standards have been encouraging.

My obections: (1) Not enough explanations to the citizenry and World of our objectives with respect to Iraq and how Obama intends to keep his promise of getting out of that country; how will these “advisors” function in a truly free Iraq?; (2) increasing troop strength in Afghanistan sends the wrong message about any realistic goals and risks repeating the ill-advised presence of the old USSR. Earlier, Richard had expressed positive policy shifts by finding realistic and non-corrupting uses for Afghanistan’s “poppy” crop. To date, it seems that we have mainly helped establish Hamid Karzai as the “president of Kabul.”

Foreign Policy: C+

Foreign policy of course overlaps with military policy, so I am here loosely restricting the category to situations where we are not actively at war.

I see positives in the shift away from President Bush’s arrogant treatment of the rest of the world. I see more opportunities for use of diplomacy to address world concerns and a much more respectful tone toward leaders of other countries. Statements regarding Iran have been more positive than those uttered in the Bush administration. As well, there have been positive statements regarding the need of Americans to see the Muslim community-at-large in a more positive light.

My objections:

(1) Obama is not moving fast enough to lay groundwork for resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; (2) By a careless statement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding China and human rights, it has come to appear that such rights rights are not much of a priority if they conflict with economic goals; (3) the Obama administration has made confusing statements about NAFTA in the context of foreign policy; and (4) the backtracking on “extraordinary renditions” is not only confusing but a compromise of a principled ideals of a civilzed peoples.

Health Care, Social Security, Education: (no grade yet)

Even before the economic crisis, and not unlike candidates of either party, Obama made more promises than he can keep. He needs to abandon the fraudulent claims carried on by so many Democrats about a Social Security “lockbox” or Social Security “trust fund.” There are no such things except in misleading/untruthful rhetoric. All monies paid in for Social Security or Medicare, for instance, go in the same pot as any other federal revenue funds and are spent as they come in.

Obama cannot keep Social Security promises he made to older and younger generations, as the numbers will never add up without the start of onerous FICA tax rates.

Something needs to be done about health care and the burden not just for the uninsured but the insured of low incomes who face steep deductibles and co-pays. Further, at present, younger generations are paying for health care of older generations on a basis where the current system will not pay the younger generations similar benefits as they get older or retire. A failure to address this discrepancy could lead to a great generational divide that is unhealthy to a pluralistic society nevertheless comitted to overall unity.

I’m not clear about Obama’s plans for Education. What I do know is that “no child left behind” was seriously flawed and the whole system has made me dubious of federal involvement in education, except for a few select programs. Many of the federal mandates regarding education have been “one size fits all” or have encouraged “teaching to the test” instead of more broadly based education. The paper work created has been very wasteful, and the whole system has been subject to great manipulations and sometimes downright dishonesty by individual school districts. I’m more inclined toward “no (or many fewer) strings attached” federal assistance to impoverished school districts and letting the states othersie handle educations needs of their students.

Constitutional Powers of Office: C+

Obama seems much less willing than President Bush to push the envelope on presidential powers under the Constitution. He appears less willing to ignore or bend laws seen as interfering with presidential military or foreign actions.

My objections:

As noted in Newsweek and numerous other places, once someone goes from being candidate to serving as president, they often are reluctant to give up presidential powers claimed or exerted by prior presidents, even if they objected to those powers while serving in Congress and/or running for president. I don’t see Obama as yet clearly providing that he will not exercise some of the extraordinary powers claimed by the most recent President Bush. In public, Obama has set a tone of greater “openness” and less abusive “secrecy”. However, it doesn’t appear that he has yet clearly denounced, as president, “signing statements” made by President Bush wherein he signed certain acts of legislation but announced he would ignore or not enforce certain provisions without going through a legal challenge to Constitutionality process. Obama has denounced torture and past abusive interrogations, but by not signing on to even fairly minimal investigations into past abuses, he is sending a mixed message that certain prior actions were wrong but that we should just move on. It is not realistic, or perhaps even advisable to expect trials geared toward harsh punishment for abusive and immoral interrogation techniques, but to fail to even investigate and establish some sort of “truth commision” such as proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont seems to send the message that it is wrong to break the law, but we won’t hold anyone accountable for doing so. Now, when a country is meeting the challenges of having been attacked as on September 11, 2001 and the president then gives either direct or indirect orders to engage in certain types of torture, it doesn’t seem quite right to let the highest officials, whether a former president, former Justice department employees or others off “free” and then to just go after those following orders. However, the country needs both to know more of what went on with respect to unlawful interrogations, who authorized them and who participated so that we might never engage in such actions again and that those engaged in such activites, or those who might be called to do so in the future understand that they may be subject to public accountability.

Style: A-

Style you might ask? My answer is that a president’s demeanor, presentation, and way of carrying him or herself in the office makes a lot of difference to ethical and moral dreams and aspirations of the people of both the electing country and the world at large. President Bush came across to me and many others, here and in other countries, as something of a thoughtless bully and as someone with a rather closed mindset. Style in the absence of good policies or solid programs means little, but has a weight of its own for a president seeking genuine solutions and with a listening ear toward the loyal opposition.

My objections: mainly a word of caution that any politician can begin to mistake presidential style alone for performance in office.

This, of course, is not a comprehensive evaluation, and I might very well see things differently, for better or worse, six months to a year from now. These days, a C+ might not be much to brag about. However, I’d rate Obama’s predecessor in the presidency as “earning” a D-.

HT: I decided to add this “Hat Tip” to Rev. Donald Sensing regarding the so-called Social Security “lock box” or “trust.” This has been written about in numerous places and by a wide variety of writers, but since Rev. Sensing, of “Sense of Events” is the latest to remind me about it, I decided I should acknowledge his entry that includes writing on the topic.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 02.25.09 at 1:22 pm

That’s really helpful, Joel, in informing and clarifying (and also supporting!) my own initial reactions to the early Obama presidency (which are based on a lot less evidence than that from which you draw your own conclusions, as I don’t go trawling the American press). You’re a hard marker - which I applaud: I’m all for hard marking - but C+ seems to me to be a fair mark too. But what’s with the D- for Bush? At the end suddenly you become a gut!

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Richard 02.25.09 at 2:10 pm

I agree with Kim, Joel. That’s a very helpful post. I think you’re right to be tough on your man, but I do worry that expectations of him were so high that he was almost certain to fail. Inheriting both the economic mess and the international legacy of the Bush administration looks like a poisoned chalice from where I’m sitting.

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Joel 02.25.09 at 4:38 pm

A C+ leaves room for a lot of improvement. I have no regrets in supporting Obama. I find myself hoping for more than Obama has provided to date, but his “C” range grades for military and foreign policy as well as exercise of Constitutional powers is far in excess of the “F’s” I assigned George Bush in each of these categories.

Kim,

Former president Bush gets a “D-” for a few domestic programs that I think were good. In hindsight, I believe “no child left behind” has been awful, but I think the intentions were good.

I didn’t break down Bush’s rankings by category in the post. However, I made the calculations with the understanding that I assess Bush’s performance as “F” in the categories of foreign policy, military policy, and Constitutional powers. I also used a system of grading as reflected by how my law school approached it, and that was, that if you showed up for the exam, you received, at a minimum a “55″, the lowest failing grade. If I had averaged in my assessment that in several areas Bush earned an absolute “zero” then his overall grade would have been an F. But instead, I assigned Bush a numerical entry of betweeewn “55″ and “59″ for the three areas I calculated him as flunking in.

In seminary, professors used varying methods to calculate final grades. However, I know the system used by Professor James Logan for Systematics, where my final grade was a “C+” with the equal one-third portions contributing to my grade being one “B”, one “B-” and one “C+.” I thought I should have received a final grade of “B-”but he used the “letter” of the seminary’s grading system to average 3.0 for the “B”, 2.7 for the “B-” and 2.3 for the “C+”. Thus, he divided 8.0 by 3 for a final numerical score of 2.67, short of the 2.7 needed for a “B-”. Other professors would have rounded up to 2.7 and given me a “B -” for the final grade. I didn’t like how Professor Logan used strict math to award me a “C+” in Systematics, but I can’t say the “C+” was unfair, even as other professors would have given me a final semester grade of “B-”. I grade George Bush in the manner I would have preferred for systematics, not as was actually used. Employing Dr. Logan’s harder grading standard, Bush would have received a final grade of “F”.

There are categories I find to be extremely important, such as environment and criminal justice that Obama doesn’t yet have enough of a record to make a rating possible.

My expectation (hope?) is that with time in office, Obama will mature and make even wiser decisions. There is a basis for that hope, I think, in Obama’s accepting the withdrawal of the nominations of Gov. Richardson of New Mexico (far, far too early to know if Gov. Richardson did anything wrong, but if he had taken office, the message and focus of the Obama administration would have been wrong from the start) and former Sen. Daschle.

I have a lot of hope that Obama’s performance with respect to Iraq, already much better than Bush’s, will improve the more. I am somewhat pessimistic, however, that Obama will do right by Afghanistan or by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was once a supporter both of Israel and of Palestinian rights and autonomy. However, she sold the Palestinians out in order to help secure a U.S. Senate seat from New York. Still, there are numerous areas where Hillary Clinton greatly impresses me.

Richard,

As far as expectations of Obama, one of the reasons I graded “tough” by modern standards was to emphasize that people who take a strong public stand in favor of a candidate, beyond just voting for them, have an obligation to hold their candidates to high standards. I do not underestimate that Obama has inherited a real mess and that solutions will not come easily. I’m a fan of many things done by Franklin Roosevelt, but also find that he received a well-dserved rebuke for, among other things, attempting to “stuff” or “pack” the U.S. Supreme Courtm and, in modern times, to have been harshly rebuked for placing U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry in internment camps, a prcoess that also, effectively, deprived them of their property rights.

I’m a fan of the late President John Kennedy, but looking at his early presidency beyond the blinders of youthful admiration, I’d say Kennedy’s start in the presidency was between a C- and a C but that he had moved up to the B- to B range at the time of his assassination.

Again, I decided to use older grading standards because honestly, I have seen American kids today write some pretty mediocre essays and come away with a B or B+ grade, which I think does them no favor. During my second semester of Latin I, I finished with a grade of 84, which netted me a C, since the grading scale used when I was a 9th grader was: 93-100, A; 85-92, B; 77-84, C, and 70-76, D. Today, I think I would have made a “B” in Latin, but the “C” I got then was hardly unfair.

I have a very favorable opinion of Barack Obama, even to the extent of really feeling “goose bumbs” on election night and inauguration day, but I do him, myself or my country no good by going easy on him simply because his predecessor’s performance was so bad and ethically/morally obtuse. For that reason alone, I appreciate that Kim assesses that I have given Obama a “fair” mark.

I’m very open to the opinions of others and may very well change my assessment of Obama over time, for the better or for the worse. In high school I would have given Woodrow Wilson an “A”. Today, I would give him a “C” at best.

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Kim 02.25.09 at 5:33 pm

Thanks again, Joel.

You mention FDR and Wilson. The last time I saw a poll of American historians ranking the presidents, FDR and Wilson, along with Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, were the top five (I can’t remember the exact order, though I’m pretty sure Lincoln was first). Who would be your top five, and what grades would you give them? I also seem to remember that Grant and Harding were the bottom two. Presumably Bush the Younger now brings up the rear-end?

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DH 02.25.09 at 7:20 pm

Well, I think Joel’s post was rather “balanced” even if I might disagree with him to a point. I totally agree with him on government intervention in the economy, etc. I also believe that while he has stated he would “reach out” to the opposition that he hasn’t shown that he is truly willing to work with them or that he values the opinion of the opposition. With regard to military he has made some mistakes and some good things. However, he has never acknowledged that the surge has worked, the dramatic success of Maliki in the elections and the dramatic decrease in the violence in Iraq. Things that he mentioned would never work but has shown that it has. His style is one that never mentions any substance. Kind of lile the old saying “Hope deferred makes the heart sink.” Thats for the overview. Here is the point by point:

Economy: D
His proposals on the stimulus cost way too much money and could have been done at half the cost. He placed more emphesis on spending as opposed to tax cuts. The amount of stimulus should have been $500B and had 65% in tax cuts as opposed to the opposite and twice the amount (if one facts interest). He mentioned with regard to the Treasury “wait for Geithners proposal tomorrow” and he basically said nothing. He doesn’t come up with any proposal to make the banking system stronger just overviews. He also doesn’t show how he plans to pay for his proposals other than raising taxes. Who hires the workers? It is the small businesses and others who happen to make over $250,000.00. He also says that he is going to make it easier for companies to form a union at a time where it is the unions that are making the economy worse aka autos where Japan makers spend 1/3 less for their employees and with greater success.

Military: D

He closes Gitmo but doesn’t close Abu Ghraib and says he eill evaluate how to handle these terrible people who are at these prisons. What a double standard. He says he will remove tropps from Iraq in 16 months it turns out he was wrong there. He never acknowledges the positive results of the election because he stated earlier it was going to be a failure. How convenient. He needs to at least explain some of the “big stick” with the “speak softly” how else is anyone going to believe him in the opposition. He also needs to do this so that the enemy doesn’t get the idea that they can get away with what they have done in the past.

Foreign Policy: D-

Hillary’s statements toward China were terrible. She basically “but kissed” the Chinese. Iran and North Korea is doing more and more to develop a nuclear weapon and Obama sits back and basically says nothing. Why does the US need to say more “positive things” when these things are contiuning? Sounds like history repeating itself to me aka Carter.

Constitution powers: D

He hires 5 guys who failed to pay their taxes. He takes away the power of the census from the Dept. of Commerce to Rahm Emmanual. He calls the Republican proposals of lowering taxes as opposed to spending money as old ideas when his own proposals have been done in the past without the success he proclaims will happen. He doesn’t value this country as a Democratic Republic and looks at government as the majority rolling over the minority. He says one thing and does another. He seems to want to increase the power of the Presidentcy and Congress over the Judiciary and the quasi-government authorities of the Federal Reserve. Also one only has to look at the problems with the Governor of Illinois, Burris and the like. Many Democrats just because Burris was black said he should stay in the Senate and in the end even HE was corrupt. Obama mentions how he is going to promote ethics in government but he has nominated 5 people who were unethical and supported Burris who now is corrupt.

Style: C

He is very elequent but always speaks without specific policies. He speaks with “feel good statements” without substance and policies. He comes up with policies that he believes are “new” but are not actually new. He fails to recognize this and therefore doesn’t realize that they have failed in the past thereby not learning from history. Joel you kind of indirectly mentioned this when you commented about “style without substance”. Great analysis on that.

For Richard, Kim and others who think I would rate Obama a “failing grade” I surprisingly won’t. I will rate him in the “D” category which is still not very good.

With regard to my “top 5 Presidents” here we go:
1. Washington
2. Lincoln
3. Jefferson
4. Teddy Roosevelt
5 tie. Reagan
5 tie Truman
BTW, GWBush is 36th not the “bottom of the heap” like you said. Here are the Presidents WORSE than Bush:
Fillmore, Harding, WHHarrison, Pierce, Johnson and Buchanan.

I still don’t buy the results of the survey and history will show otherwise in the future but here it is:

http://www.c-span.org/PresidentialSurvey/presidential-leadership-survey.aspx

6

Joel 02.25.09 at 8:44 pm

Kim,

I was afraid you might ask that ponderable question of the best five or ten. I’ll really have to think through that. As a side note, after eight years of “W” I would give Ronald Reagan a higher grade than I would have in 2000. I shall return!

In the meantime, I would share some individual areas where presidents, regardless of how I might rank them overall, made decisions that still benefit today, even if their overall presidency was deeply flawed, or even something of a disaster:

Harry Truman for firing McArthur and for integrating the military.
Dwight Eisenhower for his parting warning against “the military industrial complex”.
Nixon for visiting China.
Jimmy Carter for emphasizing “human rights” and for mediating the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.
John F. Kennedy for resisting lots of dangerous military advice during the Cuban missile crisis and for making a televised address asking for a new attitude toward Blacks (even if Kennedy was slow out the gate and had to be prodded along the way.)
George Bush the elder for signing the “Americans with Disabilities” act.
Ronald Reagan for signing the “Orphan Drug Act” which greatly benefitted people such as myself who have narcolepsy or other rather uncommon illnesses or diseases.
Bill Clinton for signing on to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” understanding with the military. It turns out that the policy in practive is a disaster, but nevertheless the agreenent has helped change some attitudes to where more in military service are willing to serve alongside gays. Also for pushing NAFTA. In practice, NAFTA is horribly flawed, but it still stands for the ideal that for poorer economies to prosper, there must be ways for those countries to have an entry point to the U.S. economy. Abdrew Johnson for refusing to resign and surviving conviction upon impeachment. Lyndon Johnson for various civil rights acts and undertakings. Andrew Jackson for aspects of his “populism.”

I’ve left out some notable names and accomplishments, but my purpose was to lift up some wonderful accomplishments even if there were flaws, often to the disastrous side.

DH,

While a “D” is a passing grade in a particular course, in most schools or institutions beyond the lower grades a “D” average over time will get you dismissed from school, so I have a hard time looking at a “D” for an overall presidency as a passing grade. For comparison sake, in any one individual course, a “C- ” was passing, but a cumulative 2.3 average, or a (C+) average was necessary to graduate. As I remember, the grade of “D” was not used. In an individual course, again, a C- (1.7) was minimally passing, but overall course work required a 2.3 (C+) average to graduate.

7

Joel 02.25.09 at 8:46 pm

The minimum grades section above refers to the policies of Wesley Theological Seminary of the United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C., my alma mater for theological training.

8

Mark Byron 02.25.09 at 9:57 pm

How you grade someone depends on whether you score on advancing your goals or effectively advancing their goals. For instance, DH, your resident conservative, gives him a string of Ds.

What do you look for in the first month of a presidency? To get your team and family settled in the White House without incident, your cabinet installed, to deliver a solid maiden speech to Congress, to make baby steps into foreign policy well and to get a few of your key platform bullet points through Congress.

Settling in-A. The media loves this new first family, with the first pre-teens in the White House since JFK.
Cabinet Picks-C-. He had to spend some capital getting his treasury pick in and has had to go to a third pick at Commerce; that pick is the klutzyist cabinet fill since Janet Reno was the third choice for Clinton’s AG; the Senate shootdown of John Tower probably was the biggest presidential boner of the modern era.
First Speech-A-. I missed the speech last night, but he seemed to have handled himself well.
Foreign Policy-B. He’s made his differences with Bush into policy without it being a huge jump-shift. The Buy American part of the stimulus had him spending geopolitical capital he shouldn’t have needed to, but he opted to placate the protectionist wing of the Democratic party rather than foreign allies. However, he recovered nicely with a good trip to Canada.
He hasn’t done much on Israel/Palestine, but that will have to wait for a new Israeli administration; you have to have a government to do diplomacy with and a nascent Netenyahu administration is still a work-in-progress.
Platform-C-. He got the stimulus plan through, but with absolutely no style points. He lost most of his bipartisan meme by ramming the plan through with no GOP house votes and but three very moderate Republicans voting for it in the Senate.

Overall grade to date B-. B+ on style and C on substance.

9

DH 02.25.09 at 10:02 pm

Okay Joel, you truly have made me think with this question: “Does Obama have a passing grade or not?” I was trying to give a more positive grade of “somewhere in the D’s” than an “Incomplete”. However, maybe an incomplete is more positive than my grade I gave him.

Joel, I’m still thinking. Does Obama get a D+ or a C-? Get back with you on the answer. Leaning toward a D+ but like one of my collegues who happens to be an Obama supporter said, “He has only been in office little over two months.” :)

10

DH 02.25.09 at 10:10 pm

Mark, I kept going between D and C on different aspects of the Presidency. If one had more detailed list than 4 or 5 you might have seen more “C’s”. However, I did give him a C on one of the aspects listed. Mark your “Settling in” grade (while a little high for me) would be higher than the D’s and C’s. My grade for this new aspect is B. It would have been higher if the “Settling in” wouldn’t have distracted him from what is the most important for a President with this major of a financial and fight against terrorism pr0blem that America and the world is facing. If it wouldn’t have distracted him like it had I would have given him an “A”.

Did you here that Kim and Richard? If some journalist was “spinning my views” the headline would read CONSERVATIVE GIVES OBAMA THE POTENTIAL FOR AN A GRADE or better yet CONSERVATIVE GIVES OBAMA A PASSING GRADE (at least in America)(capitalization used to signify headlines not yelling). :)

11

DH 02.25.09 at 10:15 pm

I will say that Obama is a good speaker. So delivery of speech B+. With regard to substance of the speaches D+. Overall C+ Richard and Kim did you see that as well “B+” and “C+” respectfully? :)

12

Earl 02.26.09 at 2:46 am

How is he doing? Let’s see…

The Economy: C- …. As demonstrated in the recent election cycle, he has no idea of what is required to build a productive economy. Failing that, his glittering generalities are unsatisfactory.

Military: D … Confronted with a cold dose of reality, he has demonstrated more of a wishbone than a backbone in dealing with a resurgent Russia, a uncooperative N. Korea and a inflexible Iran. He is finding these sorts of challenges to require more than mere words.

Foreign Policy: C- … In the place of supposed arrogance he deploys a attitude of compliance and accommodation, which as with Chamberlain is a prescription for failure on a tragic scale.

Health Care… Social Security… Education: F… Precisely for the reasons cited above in the original post.

Constitutional Powers of Office: C … He lacks any broad support beyond his own party.

Style: Absolutely irrelevant. He is not merely a contestant on a T.V. dance show. He is employed by and responsible to the citizens of the United States. If he is to have significant quantifiable success, he will have to give attention to substance more than worrying about style.

Securing Our Borders: F … He has demonstrated no commitment to stopping the influx of illegal aliens much less actually enforcing the immigration laws.

Summary: He will have to play the hand that he has been dealt. Bush did not get a pass either with the recession he inherited nor the stock market crash that followed 9/11. The current occupant of the White House will have to take things as they are, do his best and take responsibility for the consequences.

13

DH 02.26.09 at 3:01 pm

Earl, loved your comments about style. It seems people get enamered by the “beauty contest” of an election. It seems people fall for the straw man argument that if someone is a good speaker he is a good leader. To me while communication is important it is not as important as getting the job done. At the same time getting the job done sometimes is outside an administrations ability when a President has to deal with 2 Houses of C0ngress, Judicial branch, the governments of 50 states and a quasi-government authority in the Federal Reserve. When one looks at that in the current environment the ability to get the job done becomes way more difficult than ever before.

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Wood 02.26.09 at 3:17 pm

Thread… like… car… crash…

must…

look…

away….

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Earl 02.26.09 at 3:22 pm

For any executive effectiveness is the inflexible standard of success. In a position of significant responsibility, one does not have the luxury of an excuse making mentality to sidestep the positive or negative outcomes of making and enacting policy. Since Geo. Washington, every single President has delt with exactly the same realities of congress, judiciary, regional/sectional interest, states, as well as the now developed Fed. Reserve and its precursor institutions. This executive is faced with challenges that are not unprecedented nor at all any more difficult than those which have confronted past Presidents. As with those who have preceded him in office, his success will be largely dependent upon how well he is able to address core concerns of the electorate. If he spends his time chasing rabbits, he will end up in a hole of his own making.

16

DH 02.26.09 at 3:32 pm

Earl, you are right. Your post can be wrapped up into 4 words from the great President Truman, “The buck stops here.”

Earl, I love you insight into things. I would love to here you comment on other threads. Look forward to reading more of your thoughts in the future.

Wood, the thread is like a car crash because this President can’t get the car moving and comes up with policies that make the car rust. While I wouldn’t predict Obama’s presidency as being a car crash, I believe it will be worse where the car just stalls and becomes rusted. The car is unable to be crashed because it isn’t moving.

17

DH 02.26.09 at 3:34 pm

That is unless a moving vehicle hits the nonmoving object aka a terrorist attack or the economy goes back in time to the days of Carter to pay for the bloated budgets America is facing now.

18

Richard 02.26.09 at 3:47 pm

Chasing rabbits - digging holes - crashing cars - rusting solid

*screech!* The thread dies in a tangle of metaphors!

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DH 02.26.09 at 4:05 pm

Richard, kind of like what Obama’s future Presidency will end up.

20

Joel 02.26.09 at 6:25 pm

I would rate Obama a B+, maybe an A- for the transition. He and his staff reacted rather promptly to problems. Also, to hear a president say “I screwed up” is very refreshing, for it indicates humility and a willingness to accept and act on criticism. Most presidents seem to offer excuses, blame staff, lash out at the media, or otherwise refuse to accept responsibility.

If I were only comparing and contrasting “W” and Barack, I’d rate Obama an A or A-.

I can’t really settle on the top five presidents yet, but here is my list of the top ten, not in order: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson, Truman. Most of these presidents had significant, sometimes horrendous failures, such as Lyndon Johnson with Vietnam.

21

DH 02.26.09 at 7:02 pm

Here are my top 10 and not in the previous order I mentioned:

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, William McKinley, John Adams, James Madison and I’ll throw in James Monroe for good measure.

Joel, the fact is he had months to do the due dillegence on his selection some of which many knew ahead of time there would be problems. Selcting 5 people who are tax cheats and other problems? I would rank that up there pretty high as being very bad. Selcting a tax cheat for Sec. of Treasury? come on saying “I’m sorry” is not enough. Transition good in light of this? Come on . Also look at all of the Democrat support for Burris a while back just because he was black. I knew he would be a problem in light of the Illinois Gov. and sure enough it was. With regard to balme of the media, staff, excuses and the like one must look at those on a case by case basis. Maybe there were some legitimate things or “hindsight is 20/20″ type things that need to be taken into consideration .

LBJ a good President? come on his War on Poverty was a failure and any expert knew it would be as well. I’ll stick with my list.

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