“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” This famous quote by poet John Lydgate and repeated by President Abraham Lincoln pretty much describes how people feel about whoever occupies the office of President of the United States. We are entering into the final year and a half of the presidency of Barack Obama. How do we feel about President Obama?
In a time when citizens demand instant gratification, how does President Obama match up with the quote? The President has pleased some of the people all of the time, he has pleased most of of the people some of the time, he has never pleased all of the people all of the time, and for some of our citizens he has never pleased them.
When President Obama was elected, excitement prevailed in the anticipation of a new person holding the highest office in the land. Tears were shed due to his being the first African-American elected to the Presidency. Expectations were high. We placed our hopes and dreams in his being elected. Change was promised.
We used to have a honeymoon period after the election where for once, critics are relatively quiet in anticipation of the new President choosing his cabinet officers for confirmation. A honeymoon period is a time when hope is eternal and things are not politics as usual. We give that person who we elected time and space before the swearing in ceremony. The first 100 days of a President’s term in office have become historically symbolic to see if the Congress will work with the new President to put some of his or her recommendations through Congress.
President Obama faced an unprecedented set of circumstances. There was no honeymoon period. Any pretense at any effort being made by his not so loyal opposition was soon answered when Republican leaders met and decided that they would not cooperate at all. Within the Republican Party compromise and a bi-partisan approach to governing was abandoned. Ideology and standing on principle became the party dogma of Republicans. Some within the Republican hierarchy did not for one moment display any disagreement with the effort of some to deny President Obama’s legitimacy. Every effort was made to make the President a one term president.
Once President Obama was sworn in and his administration began; the left wing of the Democratic Party began its chorus of disapproval. President Obama proposed a health care bill. Many Presidents have tried to pass health care reform, going back to the days of Theodore Roosevelt, but none had been successful. Many democrats are never happy with any President. They are always looking for their vision of perfection. Older democrats look for the next Franklin Roosevelt. The seeking of perfection is often the enemy of the good. President Obama’s proposed legislation did not follow the Medicare for all model. Democrats on the left were immediately unhappy, claiming that the President caved and compromised before the debate began. Many liberals thought that if only President Obama had talked to the American people like Roosevelt did with his fireside chats, the outcome would have been different or even if it would not have made a difference he should have done it anyway. People on the left are never satisfied. They often refuse to accept political reality. They often give the excuse that they are just prodding the President to compromise less and do more. They like to ignore the fact that with Senator Baucus of Montana being the chair of the Banking committee a European type health care system was dead on arrival.
The following are a partial list of President Obama’s over 290 accomplishments:
1. The Affordable Care Act. The law has eliminated pre-existing conditions and has insured millions of people.
2. The 787 Billion dollar stimulus package. It almost immediately contributed to the falling unemployment claims numbers. President Obama’s actions helped to prevent the United States from falling into a Great Depression. The right wing did not want any stimulus and the left wing said it was not enough.
3. The passage of Wall Street reform. The right wing did not want Wall Street regulated at all. The left wing believed that the bill did not go far enough.
4. Iraq. The last combat troops left in 2011.
5. The draw down of our troops in Afghanistan began
6. Killed Osama Bin Laden.
7. Bailed out the US Auto industry. President Obama gave 62 billion in assistance, and the prior President Bush gave 34.2 billion. GM and Chrysler are going strong as a result instead of the very real threat of having lost our auto manufacturing industry, we still make cars competitively.
8. We recapitalized the Banks.
9. Repealed Don’t ask don’t tell.
10. Our economy is much stronger than it was and we are in much better shape than Europe.
11. Toppled Gaddafi.
12. Improved the American Image abroad. We no longer had the Bush doctrine. Diplomacy was resurrected.
13. We took Banks out of the Student Loan Business.
14. Boosted fuel efficiency . This forgotten executive order will have cars double their fuel efficiency by 2025, thereby helping the planet from further damage from fossil fuels.
15. A Mini- stimulus which cut payroll taxes and extended unemployment benefits.
16. Raised taxes at the top to Clinton levels. This has helped to lower the debt as a percentage of GDP.
17. Tightened sanctions on Iran.
18. New EPA regulations to close old and dirty coal fired plants.
19. Credit Card Reform.
20. 2 Supreme Court picks.
21. Started up a new relationship with Cuba.
22. New SALT treaty.
23. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
24. Improved Food Safety.
25. An Agreement with China to work together on climate change.
You would think by listening to Fox News that President Obama has done nothing, and you listen to the left wing of the Democratic Party you hear their frustrations. The media concentrates on the negatives and the controversies drumming up ratings. But the fact is that there have been many accomplishments.
The hate continues to be spewed on the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, probably because he has done a lot to once again show that government can work for the people. For people who do not want government in their lives, his accomplishments are the worst possible news. His executive orders regarding bringing millions of immigrants in from the shadows. A part of the animosity from many from the Republican Party is because he is black. They will continue to deny it; that is understandable, who wants to admit they are racists? President Obama represents the changing face of America to a multi racial and multi cultural society. A lot of people don’t like change it scares them, and some politicians like to inflame the fears and insecurities.
Democrats are still very much like what Will Rogers said about them and his being a democrat. His quote about Republicans is still too true today, they still are the best party that money can buy.
After the incessant criticism in the media, both from talk radio and from Fox TV, has contributed to a certain degree of Obama fatigue, as his presidency winds down. One thing is true, he beat his opposition in two elections and that must really gall the Republican Party.
As to the Democratic Party and the country, he still has solid support from the people. He is personally popular, they like he and his family. His administrations have been pleasantly free of normal corruption and his team has been wonderfully free of personal controversy.
As the poet once said it is hard to please people, some of the time, and for some they will never be happy or satisfied. For those plagued with negativity, you can’t please any of them any of the time.
An unbiased historical in-depth analysis will take time. We have yet to hear from the participants in the administration. We await the future.