Progressive Revival

Progressive Revival


The First 100 Days: Barack Obama’s Report Card

posted by Paul Raushenbush

President Obama has been in office 100 days and apparently that means
that we get to evaluate him.  I
don’t know when this time frame was established but 100 days doesn’t even equal
a semester so it seems pretty early to be giving “report cards.”  However, why not weigh in on how it is
going?  I should say that at
Princeton, where I serve as Associate Dean of Religious Life we have instituted
policies to combat grade inflation, so President Obama shouldn’t
expect “A” s across the board.   

Cabinet and Advisors: B

For all the talk about how carefully people were going to be
vetted, President Obama had a hard time. 
There was a pattern of nominating people and then having them bow out,
either for corruption reasons – Bill Richardson and Tom Daschle; or political
ones – Judd Gregg.   Tim
Geitner and Larry Summers still seem like weak choices.   Even though it is clear that both
are intelligent men, they have not been convincing as public figures and that
is part of what that job requires right now.  On the other had, Steven Chu (energy), Hilary Clinton
(state) and Robert Gates (defense) were inspired choices; as is Kathleen Sebellius
(HHS) once the republican silliness dies down.

Economic Recovery: B

This inherited mess is still the major issue facing our
country and it is hard to say what effect Obama’s efforts will have.   The stimulus package, according
to almost every serious economist, was the way to go.   As a layperson when it comes to the economy it is hard
to compare the talk of a strengthening market with the rising unemployment.  Let’s hope that money gets used to put
as many people to work as possible. 
 While the republicans put
on a show of tea bagging for tax day, I am not sure their efforts resonated
with those many more people who are hoping that the stimulus package can help
them get or keep a job so they can pay taxes to begin with.  It is surprising and telling the amount
of Americans who now approve of socialism. 

Foreign Policy: A-

It is very nice to again see huge crowds gathering to cheer
not protest when our president visits a foreign country.   He is enormously popular abroad,
including in countries which are traditionally viewed as our enemies.  He has promised to lead by listening and
being part of a global community and all of that plays well abroad and
(contrary to the outrageous bullshit that Dick Cheney is spewing these days) it
will make us safer. His outreach to the Muslim world including an interview on
al Arabiya news
, and a speech in Turkey has begun to shift opinions about
American in that part of the world.  
He and Secretary Clinton appear to be serious about maintaining pressure
on Israel and Palestine to restart efforts at peace after years of neglect
under George Bush.    The
main issues still to confront the President are Afghanistan and Iraq and it is
not clear at all that he has an exit plan from either of those countries or is
clear that we should have one.

The issue of torture almost rises to its own category but
let’s just say that Obama is doing a very good job on this (B +).  He is balancing his promise of
transparency with trying not to get enmeshed in a protracted political battle
around prosecution of the previous administration.   I hope we can avoid that battle but if the republicans
continue to insist that there was no wrongdoing (Bill Bennett was especially disgusting
on CNN
when he compared the water boarding that our own troops endure from one
another in training to the actual practice of water boarding of prisoners for
which we prosecuted the Japanese for after WW2)  then prosecution may be the only way forward. 

Culture Wars: B+

Barack Obama has taken the steam out of the culture wars
somewhat by his efforts at reaching across the aisle on questions such as
abortion and gay rights (which, lets face it, are the culture wars). While
there is no question that Barack Obama supports full rights for gay people,
hopefully he will have the courage soon to voice that opinion vis a vis
marriage although it is probably wise for him to hold off until after the 2012
election. While some are claiming he is the most radical pro-abortion president
ever, he also has defenders among the pro-life crowd who appreciate his
abortion reduction strategy. Largely he has his Council on Faith Based and
Community Partnerships to thank for the muted tone of the culture wars.  The President appointed a diverse group
of people to help advise him on religious and social
policy – throwing almost
too many olive branches towards the right in my opinion (but I guess that is
why it was a good idea from the stand point of calming the culture wars).    Still, it will remain to be
seen how this council actually functions and whether they can agree on
anything. 

Environment: A-

While the President has not been able to implement major reforms yet, it is clear they are coming.  For the first time we are taking climate change as well as oil independence seriously and putting money behind it.   

American Sense of Hope: A-

In a recent AP poll, 48 percent of Americans believe that we
are headed in the right direction
– that is up 8 points from February and 30
points from last October!  This is
an extraordinary turn and it may provide the key to our long-term recovery as a
nation.  From my own perspective,
turning on the television and listening to our president share his viewpoints
clearly and intelligently after 8 years of cringing has made a huge
difference.   It is clear we
have elected a man of integrity who is slowly turning our nation in the right
direction. 

Overall grade: 
B+

Barack Obama has done a remarkable job – but there is room
for improvement.  Let’s check back in
2010 – oh yeah, there is an election then.

Ps

Grade for Republicans: C-

Does America really still want Newt and Cheney and their disproven
ideas?  It will be interesting to
see what comes of the Grand Old Party.  



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churchmouse

posted April 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm


He gets an F from me. I think he is an evil man who is a master at manipulation and deception. And obviously he duped Paul Raushenbush. Any president or any American for that matter that would BOW (and pictures are worth a thousand words)to the King of Saudi Arabia is a traitor. He has kissed the backside of just about every foreign leader he can corner. And while he was kissing up he bashed the United States in every way he could. Makes you wonder what side he actually is on.



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Asinus Gravis

posted April 25, 2009 at 2:35 pm


Your assessment strikes me as fair and judicious.
On churchmouse’s criteria, “W” must have gotten an outright ZERO.



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Joe

posted April 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm


Absolutely a terrible article. Obama has infuriated the Right with cultural issues. In terms of abortion and stem cell research, he put the nation back decades in protecting the lives of innocents.
Abortion is the American Holocaust.
The only doctors in America who will perform an abortion are those educated overseas who can’t do what real doctors do, and that is save lives. $10,000 / abortion. Murderers.



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Joe

posted April 25, 2009 at 8:20 pm


It’s a terrible mispresentation of reality when the writer writes, “he also has defenders among the pro-life crowd who appreciate his abortion reduction strategy.”
He hasn’t pleased any Pro-Lifers. Any any such wording that he has is a blatant lie. Only has he pleased the Pro-Deathers. Maybe if you moved away from the ivory tower at Princeton you would recognize this fact. Wouldn’t want to let those feminists think you’re sleeping with the enemy would you?



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Margaret Johnston

posted April 25, 2009 at 9:44 pm


I think you graded him very fairly. Unless – of course – all our presidents were included in the same classroom.
In that case you would be forced to curve Obama’s grade upward to A+. Even at that, “W” and his cronies would fail the course.



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Nat Ersoz

posted April 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm


As a former right-wing nutjob, who awoke to find the country on fire a few years ago (having helped burn it down), let the Republicans twist, slowly, slowly in the wind (to quote another great Republican phrase).
Let them infuriate themselves.
Give them enough rope to hang themselves, and I assure you they will.
Hatred works that way. The deep seeded tribalism that is Limbaugh is corrosive and vile. It will rot their compassionately conservative hearts into zombie flesh, until they resemble the pasty white Rovian monster.
The seeds of irrational thought have long been sewn. The Evangelical/Political complex knows only way out of this mess: Rapture, Armageddon, scorched earth, prophetic utterance, tribal fear.
Your ‘F’ is for FEAR church mouse. Run and hide. Seek comfort in the tribe you call ‘church’. Cannibalize your young. Say a prayer against me and warm your heart by the glow of a big haired evangelist.
The left wing is gonna get you: BOO!



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hoser

posted April 26, 2009 at 12:59 am


If men could have abortions, the church would declare it a sacrament.



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Maggie

posted April 26, 2009 at 10:32 am


Another blind leading the blind article that definitely does not speak for mainstream Christianity or for 48% of the people for that matter, maybe more now that Obama supporters are becoming more and more disillusioned and his numbers are slipping in the polls. I can’t tell you how many dems I have met who wish they could ‘recall’ their vote. Now that the ‘we can’ hypnotic mantra has worn off they can actually see with clarity all they are about to lose.
People STILL don’t get it!!! Yes we need change but America needs good change. The American people have been short changed. Obama is unraveling the very fabric of America and what makes her a GREAT Nation and is leading America to a point of no return. Open your eyes and look around you at the world, for we are soon to join the ‘village’.
Many former ‘right-wing’ nutjobs swing way the other way and become ‘far-left’ loons! No boundaries, no balance and no intellectual thought. They can’t debate the issues because they only carry blank shells so they put on their combat boots and start firing insults on blogs instead of solutions.
Liberal/conservative no difference ~ the problem is a greedy corrupt administration that was in place and is still in place, only bigger.
Try to think it through without being partisan you might actually gain some understanding into the REAL issues at hand for ALL Americans.
BOO isn’t the word… it’s disaster, you know and to quote Janet Napolitano, “a man made disaster”.



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Maggie

posted April 26, 2009 at 10:36 am


100 Days, 100 Mistakes ~ dare to read,, dare to learn
1. “Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of ‘earmarks,’ urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. ‘Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,’ Obama said.” — McClatchy, 3/11
2. “There is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments.” — Obama during the campaign.
3. This year’s budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.
4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million — a whopping .0027%!
5. “The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties.” — ABC News, 4/15
6. “Mr. Obama is an accomplished orator but is becoming known in America as the ‘teleprompt president’ over his reliance on the machine when he gives a speech.” — Sky News, 3/18
7. In early February, the 2010 census was moved out of the Department of Commerce and into the White House, politicizing how federal aid is distributed and electoral districts are drawn.
8. Obama taps Nancy Killefer for a new administration job, First Chief Performance Officer — to police government spending. But it surfaces that Killefer had performance issues of her own — a tax lien was slapped on her DC home in 2005 for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help. She withdrew.
9. Turkey tried to block the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as new NATO secretary general because he didn’t properly punish the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel were outraged; Obama said he supported Turkey’s induction into the European Union.
10. . . . and he never mentioned the Armenian genocide.
11. The picture of Obama and Hugo Chavez shaking hands.
12. Hugo Chavez gave him the anti-American screed “The Open Veins of Latin America.” Obama didn’t remark upon it. At least it wasn’t DVDs.
13. Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega went on a 50-minute anti-American rant, calling Obama “president of an empire.” Obama didn’t leave the room. “I thought it was 50 minutes long. That’s what I thought,” he said.
14. Executives at AIG get $165 million in bonuses, despite receiving an $173 billion taxpayer bailout.
15. “For months, the Obama administration and members of Congress have known that insurance giant AIG was getting ready to pay huge bonuses while living off government bailouts. It wasn’t until the money was flowing and news was trickling out to the public that official Washington rose up in anger and vowed to yank the money back.” — Associated Press, 3/18
16. “After pushing Congress for weeks to hurry up and pass the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, President Obama promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway.” — New York Post, 2/15
17. SARAH PALIN ON: “I WON” AND THE DEATH OF BIPARTISANSHIP
“Obama soared to victory on the hopeful promise of a new era of bipartisanship. During his inaugural address he even promised an ‘end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.’
“Too bad it took all of three days for the promise to ring hollow.
“Start with Obama’s big meeting with top congressional leaders on his signature legislation — the stimulus — on the Friday after his inauguration. Listening to Republican concerns about overspending was a nice gesture — until he shut down any hopes of real dialogue by crassly telling Republican leaders: ‘I won.’ Even the White House’s leaking of the comment was a slap at the Republican leadership, who’d expected Obama to adhere to the custom of keeping private meetings with congressional leadership, well, private.
“It’s only gone downhill from there. The stimulus included zero Republican recommendations, and failed to get a single House Republican vote.
“It’s not just the tactic of using Republicans for bipartisan photo-ops, and then cutting them loose before partisan decisions, that irks Obama’s opponents. The new president wasted no time rushing forward with policies and legislation guaranteed to drive Republicans nuts. The first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — a partisan hot-button that drew all of eight Republican supporters in the entire Congress. Then there was the swift reversal of Bush policies on abortion and embryonic-stem-cell research — issues dear to the Republican base.
“And when Obama and the Democrats in Congress took up SCHIP — the children’s health-insurance bill that Republicans say vastly expands government’s role in health care — they had an easy chance for real bipartisanship. After all, the bill had been hashed out in the previous Congress, and a bipartisan accord was reached before President Bush responded with a veto. Did the Obama team push for the compromise version in the 111th Congress? Nope. They went back to the drawing board, ramming through the Democrats’ dream version.
“Of course, the lack of bipartisanship isn’t limited to Capitol Hill. Obama has taken gratuitous swipes at the Republicans who recently decamped Washington, blaming President Bush for everything from the economy and the war to the lack of sufficient puppies and rainbows. And who could forget the Rush Limbaugh flap — in which Obama’s top advisers, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, orchestrated a public relations campaign meant to undermine the Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, by framing talk-radio personality Limbaugh as the real head of the Republican Party.
“For now, Obama’s back-pedal on the bipartisanship promise just makes him look insincere. But the real consequences of the mistake will be felt soon enough. As Presidents Bush and Clinton could tell him, congressional majorities do change — and at some point, Obama will need Republicans on his side. He’d be smart to spend his second 100 days making up for the serious snubs of his first.”
– Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska
18. “The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.” — Department of Homeland Security intelligence report
19. Nixes a “buy American” provision in the stimulus bill.
20. “Yes, Canada is not Mexico, it doesn’t have a drug war going on. Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.” — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The 9/11 hijackers did not come across the Canada border
21. “The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits, as several influential lawmakers and many economists favor, to help pay for overhauling the health care system. The proposal is politically problematic for President Obama, however, since it is similar to one he denounced in the presidential campaign as ‘the largest middle-class tax increase in history.’ ” — New York Times, 3/14
22. JOE SCARBOROUGH ON: PROMOTING FEAR
“During his historic inaugural speech, Barack Obama promised to usher in a transformational age where hope would replace fear, unity would overtake partisanship, and change would sweep aside the status quo. But early in President Obama’s first 100 days it is obvious that the only thing that is changing is the Candidate of Change, himself.
“The same politician who proclaimed during his inauguration that ‘on this day we have chosen hope over fear’ soon warned Americans that the US economy would be forever destroyed if the stimulus bill was voted down.
“Why was it that same man who promised to put Americans’ interests ahead of his own political ambitions chose instead to use the suffering of citizens to advance his agenda?
“Maybe he was following the guidance of Rahm Emanuel, who famously said, ‘You never want to waste a good crisis.’
“They didn’t.
“The White House’s warnings were so over-the-top that Bill Clinton felt compelled to warn the new president against making such grim pronouncements. Americans would quickly warn that the White House would not channel FDR’s eternal optimism but rather embrace the gloomy worldview of Edgar Allen Poe.
“The Candidate of Hope also quickly adopted the Nixonian worldview that Americans voted their fears rather than their hopes. Over Mr. Obama’s first 100 days, that cynical calculation paid off politically for a White House that seemed most interested in appeasing the most liberal members of his Democratic Party.
“I expected more from Barack Obama. For the sake of my country, I hope I get it from the new president over the next 100 days.”
– Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and author of “The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise” (Crown Forum), due out June 9.
23. Sanjay Gupta was in discussions to become Surgeon General, but the TV personality withdrew after he was criticized for his flimsy political record.
24. Rasmussen finds 58% of Americans believe the Obama administration’s release of CIA memos endangers the national security of the United States.
25. Only 28% think the Obama administration should do any further investigating of how the Bush administration treated terrorism suspects.
26. “Obama thanked CIA employees for their work and said they’re invaluable to national security. He explained his decision to release the memos, then told everyone not to feel bad because he was now acknowledging potential mistakes. Theirs, not his. ‘That’s how we learn,’ Obama said, as though soothing a room full of fourth-graders.” — The Oklahoman, 4/23
27. By releasing the torture memos, Obama opened American citizens up to international tribunals. A UN lawyer said the US is obliged to prosecute lawyers who drafted the memos or else violate the Geneva Conventions.
28. In their first meeting, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave Obama a carved ornamental penholder from the timbers of the anti-slavery ship HMS Gannet. Obama gave him 25 DVDs that don’t work in Europe.
29. TIM CARNEY ON: PICKING BILL RICHARDSON AS SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
“Richardson’s value in Obama’s Cabinet had everything to do with appearances. First, he was the Hispanic pick. Second, because Richardson had run against Obama for President, tapping him for the Cabinet helped the media write the Obama-Lincoln comparisons by burnishing the ‘Team of Rivals’ image.
“But Richardson withdrew before Obama was even inaugurated when news came out about a criminal investigation involving David Rubin, president of a firm named Chambers, Dunhill, Rubin & Co. (although there was no Chambers or Dunhill), who had donated at least $110,000 to Richardson’s campaign committees and had also profited from $1.5 million in contracts from the state government.
“This was an early warning sign about Obama’s vetting process (various tax problems and the Daschle problem would reveal this as a theme), but picking Richardson to run Commerce also highlighted that Obama and Richardson’s promise of ‘public-private partnerships’ — such as Detroit bailouts, Wall Street bailouts, and green energy–was an open door for corruption and was at odds with Obama’s promise to diminish the influence of lobbyists.
“The Richardson mistake was one of Obama’s first, and it was emblematic. Richardson embodied Obama’s attention to self-image and the problems inherent in his vision of an intimate business-government connection.”
– Tim Carney is a Washington Examiner columnist
30. Timothy Geithner nomination as Secretary of Treasury was almost torpedoed when it was discovered he had failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes. He also employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. He was confirmed anyway.
31. . . . Not so lucky, Annette Nazareth, who was nominated for Deputy Treasury Secretary. She withdrew her name for undisclosed “personal reasons” after a monthlong probe into her taxes . . .
32. . . . or Caroline Atkinson, who withdrew as nominee for Undersecretary of International Affairs in Treasury Department, with a source blaming the long vetting process. Geithner still has a skeleton crew at Treasury, with no one qualified — or willing — to take jobs there.
33. “Barack Obama has been embroiled in a cronyism row after reports that he intends to make Louis Susman, one of his biggest fundraisers, the new US ambassador in London. The selection of Mr. Susman, a lawyer and banker from the president’s hometown of Chicago, rather than an experienced diplomat, raises new questions about Mr Obama’s commitment to the special relationship with Britain.” — Telegraph, 2/22
34. Obama’s doom-and-gloom comments and budget bill push the Dow below 7,000, from which it’s only recently recovered.
35. “You’re sitting here. And you’re — you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money–’ How do you deal with — I mean: Explain. Are you punch-drunk?” — Steve Kroft, “60 Minutes,” 3/22
36. “We have begun to modernize 75% of all federal building space, which has the potential to reduce long-term energy costs by billions of dollars on behalf of taxpayers. We are providing grants to states to help weatherize hundreds of thousands of homes, which will save the families that benefit about $350 each year. That’s like a $350 tax cut.” — Obama, describing something that doesn’t cut taxes.
37. “The Obama administration has directed defense officials to sign a pledge stating they will not share 2010 budget data with individuals outside the federal government.” — Defense News, 2/19
38. Backtracking on a campaign promise he made to black farmers, Obama significantly lowered the amount of money they could claim in a discrimination settlement against the Agricultural Department. “I can’t figure out for the life of me why the president wouldn’t want to implement a bill that he fought for as a US senator,” said John Boyd, head of the National Black Farmers Association.
39. “I’ve been practicing bowling. I bowled a 129. It was like the Special Olympics or something.” — Obama on “The Tonight Show”
40. Obama lifts travel and remittance restrictions on Cuba.
41. Obama considers dropping the embargo on Cuba.
42. After warming signs from Raul Castro, Fidel Castro says Obama “misinterpreted” his brother’s words, and that Cuba would not be willing to negotiate about human rights.
43. Obama is considering dropping a key demand to Iran, allowing it to keep nuclear facilities open during negotiations.
44. In a letter to Dmitri Medvedev, Obama offered to drop plans for a missile shield in Europe in exchange for Russia’s help in resolving the nuclear weapons issue in Iran.
45. Medvedev said he would not “haggle” on Iran and the missile shield.
46. Obama asked Congress for an extra $83.4 billion to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a special funding measure of the kind he opposed while in the senate. As a candidate, Obama promised to cut the cost of military operations.
47. After trying to woo Europe as the “anti-Bush,” Obama made an impassioned plea for more troops in Afghanistan. “Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone,” he said. “This is a joint problem it requires a joint effort.” Only the UK offered substantial help, most others refused.
48. “While the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama’s campaign in 2008.” — Washington Post, 3/27
49. Obama bows to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London.
50. “It wasn’t a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he’s taller than King Abdullah.” — An Obama aide
51. DANA PERINO ON: REMAINING IN CAMPAIGN MODE
“Has it really only been 100 days? In many ways it feels like a lot longer.
“That’s partly because the new administration remains in campaign mode most of the time. Now that’s not in itself a bad thing if you can do that and accomplish your agenda. But what’s happened is that a popular new president has laid out a very bold agenda in the midst of an economic crisis, and I don’t think Congress is going to get a lot of work done on those big ticket items this year. They’ll eke out a couple of small wins on issues like healthcare and maybe energy, but the Democrats will hail them as big victories. The Republicans have been working like a cohesive and loyal opposition party, and they need to continue to outline positive new ideas like the recent one to help grow American’s savings.
“The early stumbles on the administration’s high profile nominations — Daschle and Richardson for just to examples — acted like weights around their ankles. In addition, the partisan shots from the White House were unbecoming and I don’t think we’ll see more of that. Our allies and our enemies — heck, even we ourselves — are trying to understand the new foreign policy direction, which in some ways seems to be change just for the sake of change. The next moves by the leaders of other countries — like Iran, North Korea and Venezuela — probably will prove that really not much will change just because America has a new president.
“In many ways, it’s the next 100 days that will tell us more about our new president and what he’ll be able to accomplish than we can forecast based on the first 100 days.”
– Dana Perino was White House press secretary in the Bush Administration
52. “We can’t afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary.” — Obama, describing the stimulus bill
53. Three candidates for ambassador to the Vatican — including Caroline Kennedy — were turned down by the Holy See because they supported abortion, according to reports.
54. After saying he wouldn’t have lobbyists in his administration, Obama made 17 exceptions in the first two weeks in office.
55. . . . including Tom Daschle, who worked as a top lobbyist yet was going to be appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services — until his failure to pay income taxes derailed his nomination.
56. For an April 14 speech at Georgetown, the administration asked the university to cover up all signs and symbols — including the letters “IHS” in gold, a symbol for Jesus.
57. Samantha Power, who resigned from the Obama campaign after calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster,” was hired to a position on the National Security Council.
58. “Chicago has yet to recoup the $1.74 million cost of President Obama’s victory celebration in Grant Park — despite a burgeoning $50.5 million budget shortfall that threatens more layoffs and union concessions.” — Chicago Sun-Times, 2/20
59. Firing Rick Wagoner as president of GM.
60. Threatening to fire Vikram Pandit as CEO of Citigroup.
61. Threatening to fire anyone the administration doesn’t like from any company.
62. Not adopting a dog from a shelter.
63. “The GAO study asserts that officials from most of the states surveyed ‘expressed concerns regarding the lack of Recovery Act funding provided for accountability and oversight. Due to fiscal constraints, many states reported significant declines in the number of oversight staff — limiting their ability to ensure proper implementation and management of Recovery Act funds.’ ” — ABC News, 4/23
64. “The National Newspaper Publishers Association named Obama ‘Newsmaker of the Year.’ The president is to receive the award from the federation of black community newspapers in a White House ceremony this afternoon. The Obama White House has closed the press award ceremony to the press.” — Los Angeles Times, 3/20
65. “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” — Attorney General Eric Holder
66. “I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.” — Obama, on consulting with only “living” presidents
67. Obama quietly announced that he would not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement, going back on a campaign promise.
68. NICOLE GELINAS ON: MISSPENT STIMULUS
“One of Obama’s most poignant missed opportunities was in not using the historic $787 million stimulus package to reorder state and local government’s spending priorities. As states and cities continue to spend ceaselessly and without results on education and healthcare, they’re crowding out investments in the physical infrastructure that the private sector needs to rebuild the economy.
“In the stimulus, of the more than $200 billion that went directly to states and cities, nearly 70% went to education and healthcare spending. Only 24% went to infrastructure spending.
“But the states and cities in the most trouble already spend way too much on education and healthcare, pushing taxes up and sending private industry away. They don’t spend nearly enough on infrastructure, which attracts the private sector and builds the real economy.
“As David Walker, former comptroller general of the US, said at the Regional Plan Association’s annual meeting a week ago, nationwide, we are the ‘highest in the world’ on education. We are ‘the highest in the world’ on healthcare. ‘Nobody comes even close.’ On infrastructure, by contrast, we are ‘below average’ in both critical new investments and in much-needed maintenance spending.
“And, as Democratic governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell said at the same conference, when President Dwight Eisenhower left office, infrastructure spending was about 12.5% of non-military domestic spending. Today, it’s about 2.5%.
“This shortfall is obvious to anyone who’s ridden on an “express train” to the outer boroughs or driven on the Cross Bronx Expressway recently. But in New York, as elsewhere, the stimulus money has just allowed the state to ramp up spending on its wasteful, inhumane Medicaid program and its nosebleed public-school spending.
“Meanwhile, the subways are about to crumble into oblivion — taking the economy with them. The same is true of decaying infrastructure in California and in aging states across the nation.
“The stimulus was a once-in-a-generation chance to change this. Instead, it made the situation worse.”
– Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to City Journal
69. “The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to overrule Michigan v. Jackson, the 1986 Supreme Court decision that held that if police may not interrogate a defendant after the right to counsel has attached, if the defendant has a lawyer or has requested a lawyer. This isn’t the first time the Justice Department, under President Obama, has sought to limit defendants’ rights.” — TalkLeft blog
70. “By any measure, my administration has inherited a fiscal disaster.” — Obama
71. “Ahh, see. I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can’t end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I’m going to get grilled every time I come down here.” — Brushing off questions from the White House press corps
72. On Earth Day, Obama took two flights on Air Force One and four on Marine One to get to Iowa, burning more than 9,000 gallons of fuel.
73. “President Obama’s plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs for the treatment of troops injured in service has infuriated veterans groups who say the government is morally obligated to pay for service-related medical care.” — Fox News, 3/17
74. “And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.” — Obama during his first State Of The Union address. A German invented the automobile
75. RALPH PETERS ON: FUMBLING IN AFGHANISTAN, FAKING IT IN PAKISTAN
“We’re squandering blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Instead of concentrating fiercely on the vital task of destroying al Qaeda and its friends, the Obama administration’s determined to erect a modern nation where no nation exists. Afghanistan isn’t a country. It’s a dysfunctional reservation inhabited by tribes that hate each other. There’s no ‘Afghan’ identity. And even if our blind-to-reality efforts succeeded perfectly, the result would be meaningless.
“Except as a target range where we can gun down terrorists, Afghanistan doesn’t matter. Next door, Pakistan matters immensely. But we don’t know what to do about it. With 170 million anti-American Muslims descending into chaos as Pashtuns, Baluchis, Punjabis, Sindhis and others claw each other over the country’s shabby remains, Pakistan’s corrupt president shrugs, its military cowers, its loathsome intelligence services collude with Islamist extremists, and the safety of its nuclear weapons grows doubtful.
“Pakistan may be this generation’s chamber of horrors.
“The Obama administration’s response? Drill more wells in the Afghan countryside. Dramatically reinforce our troops in Afghanistan, sticking them with an impossible mission of modernizing a pre-medieval landscape while exposing them at the end of an insecure 1,500-mile supply line through, of all places, Pakistan.
“As for Pakistan itself, the Obama administration wants to send billions of dollars to a thieving government that makes Nigeria’s look like a Quaker meeting and to hand Pakistan’s military more arms — weapons that might soon be used against us.
“Pakistan was a bad idea when it was created in 1947. It’s a worse one now. Afghanistan wasn’t even an idea, just an accident of where other borders ended. We can’t ‘save’ either one — because neither wants to be saved on our terms.
“Obama said the right things — that Afghanistan isn’t Iraq and that our goal should be the destruction of al Qaeda. But his policies just regurgitate our Iraq strategy (one he opposed) in a profoundly different context, while ambitious generals echo Vietnam-era calls for more forces.
“Our troops will do whatever we ask, to the best of their magnificent abilities. But we should ask them to do things that make sense. We need creative strategic thought, but we’re succumbing to sheer inertia. And the president’s supporters who howled that we should abandon Iraq to concentrate on their candidate’s ‘good war’ don’t seem to be volunteering to do any fighting. Meanwhile, our president’s trapped himself inside his own campaign promiseing, Vietnam!”
– Ralph Peters is the author of “Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Ben World”
77. “President Obama failed to consult Congress, as promised, before carving out exceptions to the omnibus spending bill he signed into law — breaking his own signing-statement rules two days after issuing them — and raised questions among lawmakers and committees who say the president’s objections are unclear at best and a power grab at worst.” — Washington Times, 3/24
78. Adolfo Carrion was confirmed as Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs, but is serving under a cloud after allegations that he accepted thousands of dollars in cash from developers whose projects he approved.
79. KYLE SMITH ON: GOING AFTER RUSH LIMBAUGH
“Every so often an unfocused athlete forgets about the field of play and climbs into the stands. Ty Cobb did it. Ron Artest did it. Maybe no one did it with more sick flir than the greasy, furious Hanson Brothers who, in ‘Slap Shot,’ climbed into the stands to give a beatdown to a fan.
“In March, Barack Obama sent his own personal Hanson Brothers, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and spokesman Robert Gibbs, out to attack a non-politician — Rush Limbaugh — who was sitting innocently in the stands jeering the action. Limbaugh didn’t even throw a cup of beer.
“Senior White House staffers, who have already fallen into the classic trap of paying more attention to polls than fixing the country’s problems, had become obsessed with surveys showing that Limbaugh was an unpopular figure with swing voters. Pretty soon Emanuel and Gibbs developed Limbaugh Tourette’s. To paraphrase Joe Biden’s witty putdown of Rudy Giuliani, for a few days every sentence they uttered contained three things: a subject, a verb and Rush Limbaugh.
“El Rushbo, chuckling over his cigar as his ratings skyrocketed, could not have been more pleased if a picture had emerged of Obama wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt and burning the American flag on Harvard Square. Even that portion of the public that doesn’t like Rush squirmed at the embarrassing spectacle of the president’s men going all Mean Girls on an entertainer. George W. Bush’s spokesmen maintained a dignified silence about Michael Moore. Picture them fanning out over the Sunday talk shows to denounce, and drive up the box-office receipts of, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’ Wouldn’t you have loved that, Michael?”
– Kyle Smith is a Post columnist
80. Forced banks that didn’t want TARP money to take it, then added on stipulations about pay and government control after the fact. Secretly forced Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch, then allowed the bank to be criticized for overpaying.
81. “More than 90% of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States,” Obama said in Mexico, yet factcheck.org says, “The figure represents only the percentage of crime guns that have been submitted by Mexican officials and traced by U.S. officials. We can find no hard data on the total number of guns actually ‘recovered in Mexico,’ but US and Mexican officials both say that Mexico recovers more guns that it submits for tracing. Therefore, the percentage of guns ‘recovered’ and traced to US sources necessarily is less than 90%.”
82. Obama: “[Jim Owens, the CEO of Caterpillar, Inc.], said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off.” Jim Owens: “I think realistically no. The truth is we’re going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.”
83. “In America, there is a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” — Obama in Strasbourg, France
84. Joe Biden: “If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, if we stand up there and we really make the tough decisions, there’s still a 30% chance we’re going to get it wrong.”
85. Joe Biden: “You all worked for change. You wanted to see change. Well, that wasn’t a hard thing to try to communicate to the American people. Obviously, obviously, we needed a change almost no matter who was running.”
86. Joe Biden: “You know, I’m embarrassed. Do you know the Web site number? I should have it in front of me and I don’t. I’m actually embarrassed.”
87. “There are more than 6.5 million trucks in the United States. The program Congress terminated allowed 97 Mexican trucks to roam among them. Ninety-seven! Shutting them out not only undermines NAFTA. It caused Mexico to retaliate with tariffs on 90 goods affecting $2.4 billion in U.S. trade coming out of 40 states.” — Charles Krauthammer, 3/20
88. DAVID M. DRUCKER ON: BOWING TO CONGRESS
“Although the president possesses enormous political capital — both because of high approval ratings and because his administration is still in its infancy — he has generally declined to exercise it with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, including when it comes to crafting legislation key to moving his agenda forward.
“Rather he has allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) to craft legislation as they see fit — even though the very bills in question were proposed by the president and involve key planks in his agenda. Among them were Obama’s signature $787 billion economic stimulus bill, his first major piece of legislation that was signed into law in February; and now health care reform, currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill with minimal input from the White House.
“This soft-pedal style of leadership runs the risk of forcing Obama to embrace legislation constructed for narrow partisan interests rather than in a manner capable of garnering broad bipartisan support. Over time, the public might come to see Obama’s deference to Pelosi and Reid as a weakness of leadership not befitting a president in tough times.”
– David M. Drucker is a staff writer for Roll Call
89. “It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me.” — Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who became the second failed Commerce Secretary nominee
90. In the third sentence of his first speech as president, Obama said, “44 Americans have now taken the presidential oath.” The correct number is 43, as Grover Cleveland served twice.
91. The $49 million inauguration — triple what taxpayers spent at Bush’s first inauguration.
92. Giving the Queen of England an iPod full of his own speeches.
93. Three prime-time briefings in his first 100 days, eating into television revenues and this Wednesday pre-empting “American Idol.”
94. “The United States government has no interest in running GM. Your [GM] warranty will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it’s ever been, because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty.” — Obama
95. GM is given $15.4 billion in loans from the government.
96. The Obama Administration is trying to scuttle a lawsuit filed in federal court against Iran by former US embassy hostages. The lawsuit alleges that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the hostage-takers who interrogated the captives.
97. GLENN BECK ON: BAD ECONOMIC PREDICTIONS
“Ten days before his inauguration, the President’s chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Rohmer, released a report describing what to expect economically during the first 100 days and beyond. It presented two starkly different scenarios: one good (if the stimulus were to be passed), and one terrifyingly bad (if we did nothing). Amazingly, the report estimated that if the stimulus package were to pass, the unemployment rate would not go above 8% at any time until at least 2014.
“It’s already at 8.5%.
“In fact, while there is an acknowledged level of uncertainty, the projections estimated that the unemployment rate would be lower today if we had done nothing at all. This suggests one of two things: either the administration misjudged the seriousness of our economic problems, or the stimulus plan is actually making things worse. I suspect it’s a little of both.
“Remember, when the President’s budget was released, he was roundly criticized for his never ending deficits, even under his own optimistic scenarios for growth. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected deficits that were even uglier. But, if the President and his economic planners were this far off, this soon, how much worse does the future look now?
“The election was supposed to bring ‘change,’ but I was hoping for more than the letter after the President’s name, the positivity of the media coverage, and the hypoallergenic qualities of the White House puppy. President Obama didn’t get us into this situation, but so far he’s doubling down on the same spending philosophy that did. Common sense tells us that new debt is not the cure for old debt. No matter what the slogans say, that won’t change in 100 days or 100 years.”
– Glenn Beck is the host of the “Glenn Beck” show, weekdays at 5 p.m. on Fox News.
98. “Education Secretary Arne Duncan has decided not to admit any new students to the D.C. voucher program, which allows low-income children to attend private schools … For all the talk about putting children first, it’s clear that the special interests that have long opposed vouchers are getting their way.” — Washington Post, 4/11
99. Obama enrolled his daughters in a DC private school.
100. “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.” — Obama to Rep. Peter DeFazio, after the Democratic congressman voted against the stimulus bill.



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Your Name

posted April 26, 2009 at 11:23 am


Obama is doing just fine and his plans are just what this country needs and they seem to be working
I’m especially proud of his foreign policy because people respect us now not like they used to under Bush
Diplomacy is the way to go
Threatening with your military doesnt work in this world anymore



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Your Name

posted April 26, 2009 at 11:37 am


I personally believe that Obama has done an excellent job so far, and i agree with the comment above. I also believe that government spending is the right way out of this recession,and most economists agree. Our big mistake under the bush administration was to leave our economy in the hands of the CEOs who gave themselves millions of dollars in bonuses (not to mention the republicans who gave them millions of dollars in unnecessary tax cuts) and in the hands of the banks who gave loans to everyone and their mothers. Even though it may be slightly socialistic, it is necessary to have some regulation over these big businesses and banks. I would not mind giving up some of our capitalistic ways in order to save our money and our jobs. Also, I believe that the republicans who oppose obamas spreading of healthcare to more children are unbelievable. Pure evil is manifested through these people. They actually want to deny healthcare to poor, innocent children, who are the most vulnerable to disease



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debrashawnhenderson@yahoo.com

posted April 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm


President Obama is doing a great job. I feel that everyone who voted for him did so out of a need of change. I don’t feel that America is going to be in worse trouble than it was before President Obama became president. Like one reader said, why grade President Obama on a 100 day period. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Presidential term is 4 years. The only reason people gave President Obama that 100 day period was to see if he was going to at least try to attempt to do the things he said he was going to do. The mess that America is in wasn’t made in 100 days, let’s give our new president a chance. Stop calling him by his first name only and let’s give him some repect. It’s President Obama, or Mr. Obama, if you will. Now that America’s 100 day period is over maybe President Obama can continue doing the things that he promised he will do. Remeber their are only two perfect people. God and Jesus. Everyone else is entitled to make mistakes.



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Ramine

posted April 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm


This is so intresting. I have been looking at Obama’s report card in several places and there is such a rift in opions. How can anyone trust this if it is so biest.



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Ramine

posted April 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm


Well i belive Obama is doing a bad job. He is ultimatly making the same mistakes that other people have done in history.
For example, the stimuls plan he created, all its doing is pumping monney (which we dont have, thus raising your taxes) into the ecomomy to make it look like its getting better. If you know your history well enough you would know that when the stock market started to crash, right befor the great depression, a few wealthy investors bought a bunch af stocks and delayed the great depression for a few days. But after those few days ran up, well, the great depression started. This is one example. One thing i would like to mention, modern rebublicans want to make your taxes less by making the government smaller (the way our constitution was desgined) and Democrats, like obama, want to have a bigger government and there is no way to do that without raising taxes! All he is doing it taxing people with more monney. Now some of you are thinking that thats a good thing but your wrong! What happens to the money that you are saving by your taxes going down, well you get richer! Thus if you are richer you get taxed more next year!
In addition to The great depression, every era of great economy as occured after war. The “Booming” 1920′s or also known as “The Jaz Age” occured after World War one. What pulled us out of the great depression was World War Two and this started the great economy durning the 1950′s. War has always been good for the economy. Plus we are not done in the middle east we NEED to be in there because there are people that want to kill us just because we are American! Why are we pulling out we should not be pulling out.
I propose that we take off/lower incom tax and lower other takes and put a higher sales tax. This does two things. First, it taxes all of the people who make a living off of “cash” and dont pay incom tax. Second, it would in theory “tax the rich more” because they buy more stuff and more expensive stuff. This wouldent hurt you because you would be making as much monney as you are spending on the new tax.
So i ask you to look at history again because history does repeat itself. As a matter of fact they teach us in school that the economy desplays ups and downs, we cant avoid ression. I also ask you to think long term about what obama is doing.



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Ramine

posted April 26, 2009 at 8:05 pm


I am aware that my spelling is bad so please bear with me



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Persian Guy

posted April 26, 2009 at 9:40 pm


I am proud to be an American. I was not born in this great country but even when I was a kid growing up in Iran the people who my family associated with all spoke how USA is the land of oppertunity and land of the free. that is why I am so distressed that the American who are born in this great country of ours are voting us to socialisim. The people who now have higher hope for our nation because of what Obama is doing are blinder then a blind person. I am not hard on obama because I am a republican. I am hard on him because he is turning our free nation to a nation controled by Government (Socialism). They have taken over our banks and auto industry so far what is next. I agree with Ramine this report card really is a bias report card.



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Nat Ersoz

posted April 27, 2009 at 9:04 am


Maggie,
Copying and pasting someone else’s words does not constitute a thought process on your part.
Copying and pasting Glen Beck and his friends constitutes nothing less than raw stupidity on anyone’s part.



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Your Name

posted April 27, 2009 at 9:43 am


Ramine,
I don’t think you are well-educated in economic history. Both WWI and WWII were followed by serious recessions. The Roaring ’20s and the mundane ’50s came well after the wars.
Replacing income taxes with sales taxes is a favorite of the rich since they spend less of their own money. I would be happy to replace payroll taxes with a value added tax, a form of sales tax, however, since payroll taxes are very regressive.



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Buzzy

posted April 27, 2009 at 10:16 am


You serve as Associate Dean of Religious Life at Princeton? That’s pathetic. What happened, Princeton couldn’t afford to hire the person they REALLY wanted?
No wonder we have such a bunch of idiots coming out of the universities these days.
Just a few things:
Paul, are your radio and television on the fritz or are you just not paying attention?
Furthermore, the next time you write this kind of drivel, could you try to be just a little more impartial?
And finally, please Paul, if you can’t produce anything better than this, do us all a favor and find something else to do with your free time.



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hoser

posted April 27, 2009 at 10:55 am


Buzzy,
Go back to watching Fox news. Its fair AND balanced.



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Your Name

posted April 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm


Susan Boyle is a prime example and the epitome of prople’s prejudice. If you don’t look what “they” expect you to look like or have a curvacious figure – look out – you’re prejudged before you get a chance. I admire Ms Boyle’s spunkieness. Her go get them attitude and especially her demeanour. She totally exhibited that you can’t tell a book by it’s cover and pretty is what pretty does. I applaud her for he gumption. Her magnificent performance. Her inner beauty. She was absolutely magnificent. I looking forwad to hearing more from her.



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Your Name

posted April 27, 2009 at 11:03 pm


Your Name,
I am have reclently gon over this in a class.
WWI ended in 1918, The roaring 20s started in well 1920 and the time inbetween was the time it took to return to “normalacy”
WWII ended in 1945, the economic grovth in the 1950s started in 1950. Again this was the time to get reorganized. Both of the periods between the war and peace time economy was the amount of time it took to bring all the troops home. As you may all know you cant just pull out of a country.



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Your Name

posted April 27, 2009 at 11:28 pm


Mr. Raushenbush,
Suggest you check your censer, somebody must have spiked it with cannabis and/or opium.
You stumbled into the truth about two of the primary issues in the culture wars: prenatal homicide and redefining marriage to accomodate whatever worldview floats your boat.
“While there is no question that Barack Obama supports full rights for gay people”
pbho may be surprised to know that is what “he believes without question”.
“…he [pbho]is the most radical pro-abortion president ever…”
That is not a ‘claim’ that is an demonstable and verifiable fact.
“…he [pbho] also has defenders among the pro-life crowd who appreciate his abortion reduction strategy.”
Names, please give some names of those ‘defenders’.
Please cite the specific ‘strategies’ and the verifiable data that abortions have been reduced as a result.
I humbly suggest that one indication that abortions have been reduced would be an accompanying rise in birth rates. You might look there first.
“Largely he [pbho] has his Council on Faith Based and Community Partnerships to thank for the muted tone of the culture wars.”
If by ‘muted tones’, you mean suppressed dissent, I might be inclined to consider your assertion.
Labeling people opposed to the killing of prenatal and premature infants born alive as a result of a botched attempt on their life by an abortionists’ and the majority of Americans who are having difficuly incorporating same sex unions into their understanding of marriage’ as right wing ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’ is not what I call extending the right hand of fellowship.
It is more like a slap in the face with an ‘olive branch’.
Not content to just repeal the executive order of the previous administration prohibiting federal funds from being used for HUMAN embryonic stem cell research, in the spirit of leftwing secular christianity, pbho went the ‘extra mile’ and issued his own executive order prohibiting the use of federal funds for research involving adult stems cells. Oddly enough the only method that has actually produced successful results.
yor bro ken



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Asinus Gravis

posted April 29, 2009 at 12:54 pm


The comments on this post show two things that need attention on this blog, I believe.
(1) Your system needs a way to flag and report abusive comments–wo they can be removed.
(2) There should be a maximum length of entries by those submitting comments. I for one quit reading after the first page, even if it is well written.



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Webster Brooks

posted May 4, 2009 at 8:43 pm


President Obama’s 100 Day Foreign Policy Review
President Obama’s first 100 days of foreign policy engagement were without equal in America’s modern presidential experience. Inheriting a foreign policy agenda in disarray and widely condemned in capitals around the world for its strident unilateralism, the new administration launched a diplomatic offensive that took President Obama to 23 countries in three months. The new president acquitted himself well, demonstrating the gravitas, discipline and competency needed to manage America’s expanding foreign policy portfolio. In London, he served as de-facto Chief Executive Officer of the G-20 meeting before going on to address the European Union and NATO’s 60th anniversary conference. As Commander-in-Chief he escalated troop levels in Afghanistan, announced an 18 month withdrawal plan in Iraq and battled pirates on the high seas. Acknowledging the rising eastern powers, the President proffered a nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia, agreed to meet China’s Hu Jintao in Beijing this summer and strengthened the bonds of affection with India’s Prime Minister Singh at their London meeting.
President Obama’s superintendence over multiple flashpoints of crisis foreshadows the new reality that the era of America’s unipolar global supremacy is coming to an end. In its place a new multipolar world order of shared decision making by major and emerging powers like Russia, China, Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico is rapidly becoming the source code of international relations. Although the U.S. will remain the principal world power in the near term, increasingly America will require working agreements and real partnerships if its wants to solve global problems. Thus, Barak Obama must not only guide America’s ship of state as president, he is obligated by the confluence of world events to preside as maximum leader over a stormy and uncertain transition to a new global architecture. How he handles the most significant transformation of global security arrangements since the Cold War doctrine was adopted in 1949, is of critical importance. Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, President Clinton and George W. Bush failed to craft a grand strategy to lead the world toward a more durable era of global peace and stability; the former conducting foreign policy on an ad-hock basis, and the latter on the foundation of militarist unilateralism. The window of Obama’s first 100 days is too small to provide a definitive answer as too whether he will repeat the mistake of lurching from crisis to crisis in the absence of an overarching grand strategy, but it does reveal the outlines of a new framework that is a work in progress.
Arguably, Barak Obama may be the first president since America’s emergence as a world power to effectuate a tactical retreat to reconstitute American power and leadership. The economic recession that reached its nadir in 2008, has drained the nation’s treasury. Economic stimulus spending, bailout packages and the cost of underwriting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ballooned American debt upwards of five trillion dollars. The debilitating impact of the two conflicts on America’s armed forces has “hollowed out” U.S. military strength and severely degraded Washington’s capacity to project power and sustain long-term commitments across the world. As the American peoples’ support for continued U.S involvement in these conflicts remains “soft” and can only be maintained if U.S. troop fatalities remain low, President Obama is walking a thin line with little margin for error on the battlefield.
Similarly, the crisis of globalization has calcified reluctance in the European community to support the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq . Notwithstanding his efforts at the G-20 and NATO summits to combat Europe’s political stasis and incoherence, President Obama will not receive substantial troop additions or funding increases needed to prosecute the war in Afghanistan and support counter-terrorism efforts in Pakistan. The hemorrhaging global economy has Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Hungary teetering on the edge of financial insolvency and has accelerated the number of failed states in the developing world–Somalia being an extreme case in point. As the United States can no longer bear the burden of policing the entire western empire, President Obama will be increasingly confronted with difficult decisions concerning the deployment of American resources.
President Obama’s detractors will undoubtedly decry his scaling back U.S. imperial hubris and condemn some of the compromises he will inevitably make. His strong reorientation of American foreign policy towards diplomacy will be casts as weakness and Obama portrayed as naïve to the realities of raw power. But President Obama is acting in a manner that is prudent and mature. His willingness to concede some ground to stabilize America ’s international position flows from a sobering assessment of the current limitations of American power, the strength of his adversaries and the capacity of America ’s allies to respond to the fluid international situation.
Cognizant of the constraints on American power, President Obama’s foreign policy calculus calls for repositioning America’s diminished but still formidable assets on the one hand, while stress-testing international organizations and institutions to mitigate international crises on the other. The IMF, World Bank and United Nations are Cold War institutions that no longer comport with the times and must be reformed. As articulated by President Obama, his overarching strategy to staunch the trajectory of global destabilization while renewing American leadership rest on a core six- point agenda: withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq to focus on broader issues; eliminating the al Queda and Muslim extremists’ threat in Pakistan and Afghanistan; rebuilding a weakened military; repairing America’s damaged international partnerships; dramatically reducing nuclear weapons and aligning U.S. foreign policy with traditional American values. In his first 100 days President Obama did not deviate from his course and emerged as a popular leader at home and abroad. In the weeks and months ahead he will need all the good will he can muster. His next year will likely be the most dangerous of his presidency.
Over the next year, events in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will dictate President Obama’s success or failure to stabilize a volatile international situation and halt the slide of American power. President Obama has decided that America’s overall national security interest would be best served by cutting its losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a very risky gamble in both countries. If renewed sectarian warfare can be avoided in Iraq -and that’s a big if absent a settlement on the status of Kirkuk–the U.S. can redeploy forces to Afghanistan. The strategy is to launch a major offensive to eliminate enough Taliban extremists and then negotiate with moderate Taliban elements to join the national government. Eschewing grand visions of nation building President Obama hopes to secure support from his allies to finance and train enough national army, police and civil service workers to stand up a functioning country. Like Iraq, the drawdown of U.S. forces would begin as soon as the administration determined the Taliban/al Queda axis lacked the capability to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to attack the U.S and subvert its neighbors. What Obama seeks to avoid in Afghanistan is a long drawn out, demoralizing bloody war that would further stretch the military and divide the nation; hence the surge, strike and negotiate strategy.
While the Obama administration has shifted its focus from Iraq to stopping the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is Pakistan that poses the greatest short-term danger to America’s national security interest. The Zardari-Galani government is incapable of bringing order to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or the Northwest Territories. The Pakistani Taliban and al Queda forces have now moved within 60 miles of Islamabad . Although President Obama continued to authorize limited Special Forces operations within Pakistan and Drone attacks, he cannot commit ground troops to Pakistan to neutralize the terrorist threat. To avoid the government’s collapse which would likely provoke a military response by India, President Obama must make preparations to support a temporary military takeover by Army Chief Kayani. The specter of a Taliban/al Queda inspired takeover of Pakistan would unravel the entire U.S. presence in the greater Middle East and heighten the danger of leaking nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorist elements. It is Pakistan where President Obama will likely meet his first supreme crisis, and he must be prepared to act.
Outside the Middle East and Central Asian hot zone, the Obama administration turned its attention to the east, probing for parameters to engage Russia and China. Neither country has demonstrated enthusiasm to work with the U.S. to mitigate international conflicts. As regional hegemons both nations are seeking to solidify their spheres of influence and are united in their desire to push America out of Central Asia . President Obama came to office determined to recast U.S.–Russia relations with a big initiative. At the G-20 Summit his quiet back channel diplomacy paid off with an announcement of nuclear arms reduction talks. Clearly, President Obama is attempting to generate momentum for positive relations with Russia, whose help he will need in Afghanistan and on the Iranian nuclear issue. It remains to be seen whether Moscow is willing to be a tactical ally or strategic adversary of the United States. As for Obama’s agreement to visit China this year, both sides want to establish ground rules that will lend predictability to solving critical debt, trade and financial issues in the aftermath of the global economic meltdown. This will be critical if Obama has any hope of securing China’s support on broader issues from global warming to North Korea.
Ironically, President Obama’s first one hundred days ended with very little said about Iran. His overtures to invite Tehran to talks on Afghanistan and Norwuz messages have not generated much good will in Iran. With the first round of Iran’s presidential elections coming up in June, what to do about Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is going to move front and center on the foreign policy agenda. In truth, President Obama has few options to prevent Iran from mastering the uranium enrichment cycle, save an attack by Israel that at best could set the program back temporarily. By attempting to woo Syria from Iran’s sphere and offering to shelve deployment of missile defense shield systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in exchange for Russian cooperation to block Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration’s attempt to further isolate Iran is going nowhere. Should President Ahmadinejad be re-elected the standoff between the U.S. and Iran will sharpen considerably.
Perhaps the most controversial actions taken by President Obama in the first 100 days of his administration was not the handshake with Hugo Chavez or relaxing travel restrictions with Cuba, but his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and release documents detailing torture techniques used during the Bush administration. Both actions sparked a furious debate about whether these actions made America safer or were necessary to reestablish that the rule of law and American values will be upheld in “wartime.” President Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and Roosevelt interned Japanese-Americans. It was a gutsy but ultimately correct position for President Obama to take, but one that will come back to haunt him politically if there is a terrorist attack on American soil.
What the first 100 days of the new administration reveals to us is that President Obama came to office with a solid plan and was fully prepared to execute a new foreign policy agenda. He has passed if not exceeded the threshold of competence and shown he is a capable manager of
America’s increasingly complex international affairs portfolio. It will be his response to a crisis that is surely to come, and his ability to craft a long-term grand strategy that articulates America ’s place in the new multi-polar world order that will determine if he is the right leader to match the unprecedented historical moment. **********
Webster Brooks is a Senior Fellow at the Center for New Politics and Policy, and Editor of Brooks Foreign Policy Review-the Center’s foreign policy arm.
http://www.foreignpolicyreview.org
wbrooks@newpolicycenter.org



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Anquan Battle

posted May 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm


A lot of the comments on here are so angry and negative; it’s the same partisanship that’s messing this country up anyway. we could all use a change and even if the 100 days has been radical, it’s an attempt to fixing the mess that the last president messed up.
Anyway, those who are looking for an objective read on the 100 days, check out FLYP’s issue this month on the first 100 days of Pres. Bam.
http://www.flypmedia.com/issues/28/#1/2
-Anquan



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Neil Friedman

posted August 2, 2009 at 11:39 am


Our economy should be our Presidents primary responsibility, put our people back to work. Once the economy is in a state of recovery attention can be directed to the Healthcare Issue. When our people are back to work they will pay taxes which could be issued to reduce our debt & cut the debt service. All saving could be directed to a Healthcare Bill. In addition to assist in bring down the cost of medical coverage, our country need Tort Reform.



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Your Name

posted August 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Three more years of Obama will total break the US. He has no common sense about bufgeting money . All of this bail outs and cash for clunkers is rediculous. All the trips out of the US is uncalled for he needs to stay in the US and take care of our problems at home. I think Sarah Palin would know what to do to make things better in the US. She came from a hard working family that knows how to budget their money. If Obama continus to spend and spend like he is now .Please God help America
thank you



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