Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Years In

It's Toddler Time in our nation's capital. Barack Obama's presidency turns two years old at exactly 12 EST today. While those in the Tea Party would call it the "Terrible Twos," the reality of his presidency is, I think, a bit more complicated. What have we learned about President Obama & Co. in his first 24 months as commander-in-chief?
  1. Guantanamo Bay is still open, and its closure is now a year behind schedule. I think the chances of Martian terrorists invading the U.S. are higher than Obama ever being able to close the Cuban detention center.
  2. Health Care Reform - good or bad, yes or no, "socialist" or not, the issue - and the hyperbolic passions it inspires on both sides of the political spectrum - is the signature issue of this presidency, and it may remain that way for quite some time.
  3. For all their successes during the 2008 campaign, the Obama marketing guys seem to have done a pretty poor job in the White House thus far. If you cute through the bullshit, this president can actually boast a string of accomplishments: he pulled the economy back from the abyss, saved the American auto industry, isolated a terrible regime in Iran, passed landmark health care legislation, repealed DADT, won a Nobel Peace Prize and has remarkably stayed roughly around 50% approval with the country mired in 10% unemployment for two years - yet until recently the prevailing narrative has been largely focused on how weak and ineffective Obama's presidency has been. Paging the "HOPE" and "CHANGE" people - where have you guys been the past two years? Time to get that mojo back for 2012.
  4. In his own twisted, torturous way, Obama has proven himself to be a legitimate fighter for gay rights. He repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell, and he did it legislatively - by far the most effective way in the long run. Despite all the bullshit leading up to it (and the bullshit that persists, like his Department of Justice continuing to defend DOMA in the courts), he deserves a lot of credit for this. As does, oddly enough, Joe Lieberman. But like, let's not get crazy or anything.
  5. Obama the campaigner? Oratorically awesome and endlessly inspiring. Obama the president? Kinda professorial and boring at press junkets. BUT: Dude can still give a great speech. Whomever is the Republican nominee in 2012, you better watch yourself on the campaign trail.
  6. Hillary Clinton: O's former rival for the presidency is doing a great job as Secretary of State.
  7. John McCain: O's former rival for the presidency is a bitter, petty shell of his former self who has compromised everything he once stood for to settle political scores. In English, this type of person is known as a DOUCHEBAG.
  8. March Madness is more fun with Obama as president because ESPN obsesses over his bracket.
  9. Partly because of the economy, partly because of a black president, partly because they're crazy, Tea Party madness is in full swing and will make or break the next two years for Obama - it'll either totally sabotage his presidency or give him a chance to truly shine, rise above it all and be the kind of president he always wanted to be (I'm betting on the latter).
  10. Dude ain't no socialist.
What a long, strange trip it's been. I'm proud to say that, even after voting for this man twice (first in the primary, then in the general) I have remained healthily skeptical of him as much as possible. I've applauded when appropriate, but I have disagreed with him on a great number of things. He has compromised on some promises, but delivered on others.

The general state of the country still isn't great, and in my most pessimistic moods I fear it never will be again. One man with two years on the job does not constitute a miracle maker by any means. But I'd rather this guy be president than anyone else. Just take a quick look at the political landscape and you can see all the losers, particularly amongst the Republicans, who would vie to take his place - Palin, Romney, Huckabee, etc. Barack Obama remains the guy for this job - even if "Hope" and "Change" often feels like a distant dream from way back when (which, of course, it is).

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