To Be Fair: Obama Too

Comments: 8 Comments
Published on: 2012.09.29

You may have noticed I’ve had a few entries lately that seem to be slamming recurring presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Doesn’t seem fair for someone who claims to be an independent, moderate voter, does it? I guess it was simply born out of my dismay that Romney turned out to be such a weak candidate. The entire voting process isn’t really as fun or important if one candidate is just too weak to compete against the other.

But that doesn’t mean I think Barack Obama has been the perfect president.

As poorly as Romney’s campaign has been run, he’s still only behind a few points in most national polls and in all the state-to-state polls I’ve seen. Part of this is due to more than half of Republicans still believing Obama is a Muslim (source) and nearly 40% of Republicans believing Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., apparently thinking that the birth announcement in the Hawaii newspaper 50 years ago and the verified birth certificate was part of the most massive conspiracy in U.S. history. (Heck, two-thirds of Republican voters still believe we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.)

But even if voters didn’t believe these fairy tales, there are actually plausible reasons to hesitate to vote for the incumbent President.

However, it’s difficult to find Obama’s actual failures with a simple Google search. Most of the sites that attempt to list them are riddled with trumped-up charges such as blaming him for the global economic recession of 2008 — before he was even elected, or blaming him for the recent attacks on U.S. embassies — as if he secretly infiltrated several Muslim countries while sitting as president and riled up the crowds.

One site I found blamed Obama for the rise in the price of gasoline, which was about $1.80 per gallon in the U.S. when he was inaugurated and now is closer to $4.00 per gallon. Of course, that site didn’t mention that gas now costs less than it did in late summer 2008, during the time when Obama’s campaign was pulling ahead of John McCain’s. It also didn’t mention that in 2008, even FOX News said: “no President has the power to increase or to lower gas prices” — of course, at the time they were defending George W. Bush.

Another site (and I’m not linking to these sites here because it would be irresponsible to promote them) thought it was a negative that Obama used the BP oil spill to “promote Green Energy”. Has there ever been a better time to use the phrase “WTF”? That oil spill was a perfect example of why we should be moving to safer, more responsible ways to create and use energy.

Another called him out for putting copies of pending legislation on the internet for public viewing before Congress voted on it. It didn’t explain why this was a bad thing.

So yes, it’s difficult to find any list of Obama’s legitimate failures or shortcomings. I’ll try to list a few here, for anyone interested in facts.

* Failing to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, something he’d promised to do during his 2008 campaign.

(Right-wingers don’t list this as an Obama failure, because they never wanted it closed in the first place.)

* Slower-than-hoped-for economic recovery

Not that the president has any direct control over the economy, and not that four years are enough to change the faulty way that the economy operates, but Obama’s economic policies haven’t seemed to help. This is something both sides tend to agree on, though they disagree on exactly how bad it is and what the correct path should be. It’s also unclear from Romney’s statements so far how he would be of any help.

* “ObamaCare”

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA), which was signed into law in March 2010, has been derided by opponents as edging toward socialism and sometimes is described as fully socialist. It’s also been suggested that this is the first time that the U.S. government has required citizens to purchase a product/service from corporations. Liberals think the bill didn’t go far enough — that it was weakened significantly in order to pass Congress.

So, regardless of your political leanings, it’s likely that you see ObamaCare as a failure.

(Note that the bill doesn’t actually require everyone to buy health insurance. Many, many people are exempt because of the “8% clause” — I would be exempt if I still worked at the newspaper in Oklahoma because health care would cost more than 8% of my salary.)

* Accepting SuperPAC money after saying he wouldn’t.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the legality of SuperPACs — which allow corporations and individuals to donate unlimited amounts of money to be spent politically — Obama has taken full advantage, though he’d earlier said the idea was unconstitutional.

* Apparently giving up on climate change after saying during his 2008 campaign that it was one of our most serious issues.

Again, right-wingers don’t think of this one as a failure, since they don’t believe (a) the climate is changing or that (b) we can do anything about it. But liberals have been disappointed in Obama’s record on the environment. A few changes include further increases in fuel economy standards for automobiles, approval for additional wind and solar power facilities, and reducing emissions and waste directly for federally-operated offices.

* No comprehensive immigration reform, something Obama has said was his biggest failure.

Immigration was one of the top issues in the 2008 race and big promises were made. One significant change, which should please both sides (but doesn’t) is that Obama’s administration has increased the deportations of criminals by 89% while decreasing the deportations of non-criminal illegal immigrants (source), while using approximately the same budget as before.

Immigration of course is an issue where both sides agree there IS a problem, but don’t agree on what the problem is and therefore don’t agree on the solutions.

* Rich got richer, middle class shrunk.

While the Democrats have long been labeled as the party that supports the lowest income brackets, up through the middle class (and Republicans purportedly only favor the rich), census data shows that America’s richest people got richer in the last four year, as did the barely rich, while the middle class shrunk and the poor got poorer. This is a poor record for a president who’s accused of being a socialist, and who’s accused of believing strongly in “redistribution” of money from the wealthy to the poor.

In fact, if this was the only issue on the table, then big-time Republican donors might just support Obama; they’re doing just fine.

Obviously, some of these are only failures when considered from the viewpoint of Obama’s supporters. Some would be called failures by the other side if he’d succeeded. But all are legitimate areas in which he either didn’t live up to campaign promises, or changed his stance without good reason, or simply failed to get done what he’d tried to do.

  1. I only take exception to ‘ObamaCare’ being depicted as a failure. Since it won’t be fully implemented until after 2013, and all analysis was done against a ten-year budget, it can’t be called either way until we get closer to 2020. Or is your meaning that any healthcare reform short of universal coverage is a failure?

  2. Wil C. Fry says:

    Thanks for the comment, Michael, as always.

    I agree that it can’t be called an actual failure until we see how it works or doesn’t work. Perhaps I should have listed that item further above, under the made-up failures. ;-)

    Seriously, I meant that from various voter’s perspectives, it is perceived as a failure. Conservatives think it’s a failure of our system that it passed at all (hence Romney’s promises to repeal it before it gets started), and many liberals think it was too watered down.

    Personally, it sounds like a good enough idea to me.

  3. shari says:

    I think the sort of “failures” that should get more attention are perhaps more subtle. President Obama promised transparency in government, and delivered lots of stonewalling. He promised to uphold the constitution, and while the interpretation of that document is open to many variables, I don’t know of anybody who would say the constitution allows for breaking Federal law. Therefore, things like this: look like a failure of that promise.

    I would also list “Fast and Furious” as a failure, and while it (and other problems and scandals) doesn’t tie directly to the President, he is the one who sets the tone/agenda and the one who makes appointments to many of the positions that then cause the problems.

    Food stamp usage has doubled in the last 4 years, which admittedly is only a failure if you think it’s bad when people can’t/won’t provide for themselves.

    What about the murder in Libya? Here’s the latest article I’ve read on it: Never mind that the man “accused” of making the film has been arrested, and that the White House asked Google to remove the film from YouTube.


    You’ve said you have decided for whom to vote, but didn’t say upon what you based your decision. I would be interested to know what your deciding criteria were.

  4. Shari says:

    I didn’t mean for my comment to sound all “up in arms”. There are some current issues that irritate me, but for the most part the upcoming elections have me rolling my eyes.

  5. Wil C. Fry says:

    “President Obama promised transparency in government, and delivered lots of stonewalling”

    I think he promised more transparency in government, to be fair. But yeah, I didn’t see much more than we’d seen before. (Other than the bills being posted on the internet so the public could actually read them.)

    As for the attacks on our embassies, note that I did mention them. I don’t think anyone seriously believes that Obama had anything to do with the riots, attacks, or killings, nor with making the movie that was allegedly the cause of the “spontaneous” riots.

    “You’ve said you have decided for whom to vote, but didn’t say upon what you based your decision. I would be interested to know what your deciding criteria were.”

    Clearly, most voters will never meet the people they’re voting for. So we have to depend on the recorded actions and words dispersed to us by the media. So naturally, all I know about either candidate is what’s been in the news, and what’s a matter of public record — as far as their previous voting records, positions held, etc.

    One thing that’s of absolute importance to me is “avoiding the crazy”. This is why I could have never voted for Santorum or Bachman, for example. Neither Romney nor Obama fall into that category, at least for me.

    Probably the next-most serious criterion for me is: “Who will help the country go closer to the direction I want?” (Or “less far down the path opposite from what I want?”)

    As I said in another post, I’m conservative on some issues, moderate on some, and liberal on a few, so it’s not always easy. But I try to find out which candidate matches up best with my views on a variety of issues.

    Thirdly, I look for the competence/charisma factor. Let’s admit it, Bill Clinton had that. So did Reagan, at least early on. In other words, can they do the job? and will I like the way they do it?

    I hope that helps.

    EDIT: I may expand upon this in a further post.

    EDIT2: Here’s the related entry.

  6. Wil C. Fry says:

    Huh. I guess you posted your second comment while I was typing my reply. :-)

    I still intend to expand my “criteria” answer in a full blog entry…

  7. Shari says:

    Look forward to the criteria post.

    To clarify on Libya, I’m not saying Obama was to blame for what happened, but for the way it was “handled” after. The administration was deceitful about the nature of the attacks, and that’s what I was trying to get to – the cover up.

  8. Wil C. Fry says:

    Thanks for clarifying. I still think: “Meh” about that. Sure it seems obvious to some of us that it wasn’t a “spontaneous” attack — who brings heavy weapons systems just in case a protest breaks out?

    But I can’t think of a reason why they’d have given those incorrect statements intentionally, especially knowing how the media reacts to such gaffes. I’m more likely to believe a bunch of miscommunication went around the administration during those days. :-)

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